Teaching Your Cockatiel To Talk

So you have had your new pet cockatiel home for a few weeks now.  He has gotten a lot more comfortable in his new surroundings and he is bonding with you more and more each day.

He will step up on your hand without any fuss so that is great.  So now you are thinking that you would like to teach your cockatiel to talk.

cockatiel stepping up
cockatiel stepping up

Well you have already taken the first steps in teaching your bird to talk because human interaction is key to training your cockatiel.  Interacting with your pet bird will help him relax and get used to you and to bond with you.  A pet bird will also be more relaxed if he is comfortable in his new home and mental stimulation is a part of that.  Lots of positive interaction and positive mental stimulation will help your pet cockatiel to learn how to talk.  Remember cockatiels are a curious little bird and even though their brains may be tiny they need to be stimulated to be happy.

Also make sure your pet cockatiel is healthy.  If you suspect that there is something wrong a trip to the vets could be in order.

Your feathered buddy needs to have plenty of food and fresh water and an environment that he can feel comfortable in.  If he is happy it will be easier to teach him how to talk.

Let The Talking Begin!

Just for your information you should know that even though your cockatiel can be trained to talk he will never be as clear as a parrot.  Most times you will be able to understand him though sometimes he will sound like he is spouting a bunch of gibberish.

I know my little guy Binkie sometimes goes on these tirades and you know he is saying something but what I have no idea.  It is quite funny though as he seems quite serious about the whole conversation.

Anyway back to the training.

Makes sure when you start to train your cockatiel to talk that you do it in a quiet area.  Like I said earlier cockatiels are very curious and can get easily distracted so you want to try and eliminate the distractions and see if you can get him to focus.

Start out with just one word or a very short phrase.  Cockatiels are used to high pitches so when teaching him you are going to have to speak in a high pitch tone.  Repeat the word or phrase frequently.  Look for signs that he is listening.  Do his pupils get a little bit larger when you say a certain word?  Does the crest on top of his head go up to indicate interest?  You need to learn your bird’s body language.

male cockatiel
male cockatiel

Your bird may show no interest at first so you need to keep working at it.  He may also not be able to say the word or phrase so you need to keep it simple.  As some people have trouble saying the word linoleum your bird may have difficulty with certain words also.

Keep in mind that these birds are quite intelligent and will associate phrases or words with certain things.  As an example when you greet him in the morning make sure you are saying “Good Morning” and not “Good Night”.  Simple little things like this will help him learn.

Once your bird seems to be picking up on certain words and phrases you need to encourage more of this behaviour and just like dogs nothing does this better than a treat that your bird loves.  When rewarding him again just like a dog you need to make it a very positive experience.

Birds however are a bit more fragile than a dog.  A sudden unexpected hand movement can frighten your bird and all your work can be set back.

So with any training lots of praise and treats and patience will help.

As your bird learns one word or phrase you can start to introduce other words and phrases for him to learn.  You can try and introduce the words in a conversation with him.  For example when you give your bird his favourite treat like a millet just say Do you want a treat?  Eventually when he sees you coming with his millet he may just start to say Do you want a treat!

Factors That Can Influence Training To Talk

Other factors that will help teach your cockatiel to talk can be as simple as gender.  It seems that male cockatiels are a lot easier to train to talk than their female counterparts.

If you have more than one cockatiel it may be more difficult to teach as they will probably bond with each other and not you.

cockatiel buddies
cockatiel buddies

Age can also be a factor.  The younger your bird is the faster he will pick up on the training.  Many recommend that you start training around 3 to 4 months old.

Avoid teaching your cockatiel to whistle.  Since whistling is easier for a cockatiel than talking they may simple choose to whistle and not talk.

As with any training limit it to between 10 to 15 minutes.  A bored bird is an unhappy bird and an unhappy bird will not learn.

Another tool you can use is prerecorded words that you can play for your pet cockatiel.  You can make your own recording or you can buy a CD.  If you make your own recording make sure you say the words you want your bird to learn but be sure to leave long pauses in between.

So good luck teaching your cockatiel to talk.  Remember they are very social birds so they do need lots of time to interact with you.  When you can’t have them out make sure you have them in an appropriate size cage with some great toys to keep him busy.

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Comments

    • Craig
    • February 25, 2017
    Reply

    This is really interesting for me as I have been considering getting a cockatiel for a while. My grandma used to keep canaries when I was younger and I remember being upset when they “flew away out the window”.

    Once I get one I will now know exactly how to get him to speak which is really cool. What I want to know is: other than the bird and the cage, what do I need to get started? Do they work well in houses with other pets (cats/dogs)?

    Thanks

      • Maureen
      • February 25, 2017
      Reply

      I would be very careful about putting your bird in proximity to another animal that could potentially harm it. Right now I have a dog that we got from the shelter and the first thing she did when we brought her home was go after the bird. We have to keep them separate. Prior to this dog we had two dobies that got along fine with the birds. The bird would land on their back and the dog did not react at all. So they can get along but be very careful when introducing them. Keep your cockatiel in a cage when the dogs are around and let the dogs get used to the bird.
      As far as things you need when you get your cockatiel other than the cage you are going to need food. I would recommend a pellet diet as a seed diet is very high in fat. Also some toys for your bird would be great also.

    • delroaustria
    • February 25, 2017
    Reply

    I never thought that a cockatiel can talk.

    I was once raised a lovebird that gives me an excitement how to take care of them everyday. I know they can’t talk but that pretty damn birds are beautiful and cherish.

    I don’t know if cockatiel came from the same specie of lovebird but I seems cockatiel is quite smarter than lovebird. Could it be hard to raise cockatiel than lovebird?

      • Maureen
      • February 25, 2017
      Reply

      Cockatiels can talk but they will never be as clear as a parrot. Mine will talk occasionally but darned if I know what he is saying, it is very garbled. I have never had lovebirds so I don’t know if one is harder to raise than the other. I think the biggest thing about any bird is keeping their cage cleaned and making sure they have fresh water and food every day.

    • cristina
    • February 26, 2017
    Reply

    Nice and Funny article.:) I love Cockatiels:)
    Can I ask something? There is any special kind of cockatiel which can learn to talk or all of them can?
    I thought the big parrots can talk only. how can you know if he will talk or not?
    Can he be friend with my labrador if I take one? maybe he will learn to bark:) hahaha 🙂 What do you think?
    Thanks for sharing was a fun read and I enjoyed it 🙂
    Cristina

      • Maureen
      • February 26, 2017
      Reply

      Male cockatiels are easier to train to talk than females. Whether they can all talk I really don’t know. I guess it depends on how much time you are willing to invest in their training.

      As far as being friends with your dog it is possible but I would caution you to never leave the two of them alone and loose together.

      I had two cockatiels and two dobermans that got along great. Now I have a German shepherd lab cross that I can not allow around the bird I have now when the bird is loose. Our German Shepherd mix we got from the shelter and she was 7 months old at the time, the dobes we had from pups. Does this make a difference? I think it does.

      Our dog has calmed down quite a bit from when we first got her so she might be OK now but I am not willing to take that chance.

    • Zbigniew
    • February 26, 2017
    Reply

    Hi, great instructions. Who would tell that you have to consider so many things when teaching a bird to talk?
    I am considering buying a bird for my daughter. Do you think a 7 year old girl can take care of a cockatiel with as little help from adults as possible?

      • Maureen
      • February 26, 2017
      Reply

      Young children always should have supervision from an adult when caring for a pet. The thing with a cockatiel is they will spook easily so any sudden movements will scare them and it may take a long time before you can gain their trust. They also are quite messy. They have a powder on their feathers that could be a concern for any one with allergies.

      Cockatiels are part of the family so unless you also want one I would think carefully about buying one just for your child.

    • jeffrey16201
    • June 1, 2017
    Reply

    I never knew you could teach a cockatiel to talk, I always thought only parrots could talk and they just learned to talk naturally by hearing the family talking around them.

    I have heard of Cockatiels whistling, many whistle almost constantly until the owners are about tired of hearaing them and cover their cages up. Does covering the cages of talking birds shut them up, it is amazing a bird can learn to actually talk

      • Maureen
      • June 1, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Jeffery you can teach a cockatiel to talk. It is easier to teach a male cockatiel than a female cockatiel to talk. They can be quite loud when squawking and covering their cage will stop them from squawking. You can also train them to be quiet. They normally squawk for some attention so if every time they squawk you come running to where they are they have gotten what they want. So you could ignore them until they stop and then go see them. Of course they do squawk for other reasons so finding out why they squawk can help you determine what action to take.

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