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The majority of parrots can learn often-repeated words and sounds. Parrot owners can expect a bird to begin talking after six months of age, sometimes starting with mimicries of microwaves and phone sounds. Breed plays a role in how well parrots talk, with medium to large birds being deemed the most intelligent. In addition, training must start early and be consistent in order for a parrot to learn to talk. After about 18 months of age, a parrot might never learn to speak if not trained to.
Parrots talk early in their life, considering their age, which can exceed that of humans. A bird may start practicing with frequently heard sounds around the home or pet store. The sound of oven timers, greetings, and goodbyes might be some of the first things learned. Parrots tend to prefer learning words that are spoken with emphasis, which makes swear words a popular choice.
Medium to large parrots can develop a vocabulary of more than 100 words; in fact, multiple parrots have achieved vocabularies of more than 800 words. Determining how well parrots talk involves looking at more than their number of spoken words, however. Some parrots have a rarely seen mastery over spoken language by understanding and speaking with humor or mimicking tones of voice. While most parrots are capable of speaking when given enough training, not all can learn to use phrases in context or different tones of voice.
How well parrots talk depends on the breed, among other things. Smaller birds tend to make less impressive mimics than large birds. There are always exceptions to the rule, but in general large birds are easier to teach and understand. Parakeets, for example, are a common type of small parrot that rarely learn to mimic well, if at all. In addition, there are also large birds who sometimes fail to grasp the ability of mimicking. If having a talking parrot is important to a potential bird owner, the surest method of acquiring one is purchasing a parrot that already talks.
The first year of a parrot’s life is an important time because this is when it develops the ability to talk. A parrot who has regular stimulation and is often encouraged to talk by being talked to will likely be a better talker than a bird who is not interacted with. Essentially, the more time a parrot owner puts into training his or her parrot, the stronger potential the bird has at being a good talker.