11 Best Pet Birds for Beginners That Talk

Let’s look at the 11 best pet birds for beginners that talk and can learn to mimic words and speech.

Are you enamored by the hundreds of videos of talking parrots on the internet and want to get one for yourself?

Or perhaps you are fascinated by a bird you might have seen at a friend’s house who can talk back and seemingly interact with humans – repeating everything they say?

If you are new to the world of birds but want to take on the challenge of training a bird to talk, this guide will help you find the right bird for you.

I have classified the birds primarily on their ability to talk – so sometimes, the birds may not be easy to be with, but I have assumed that you are determined to put in the necessary effort.

I have also shared other important criteria you might consider – their size, weight, lifespan, and cost so that you can make an informed decision.

So without further ado, here are the 11 best talking birds for beginners.

For those of you who are the more “visual” kind, here’s a video that we made for you!

1. African Greys

Research at Harvard University has shown that African Greys have an intelligence equivalent to that of a five-year-old human child.

It is no surprise, then, that these birds can learn more than 500 words during their lifetime.

In fact, some scientists believe that African Greys can actually use words in a context-appropriate manner (though it does not indicate that they have a full grasp of the word’s meaning).

The two types of African Greys that are considered to be the best talkers in the world are Congo and Timneh.

For example, the famous African Grey “Einstein” was a Congo.

Congos are larger and comparatively higher priced, but Timeneh’s start learning to talk quicker.

One thing to remember about African Greys is that they are not exactly beginner birds.

These birds need special care and attention, lots of involvement from their owners, and mental stimulation.

Moreover, they tend to be a bit temperamental and can be a handful at times.

Again, it takes a lot of time for an African Grey to start speaking – it is not easy to teach them.

Still, if you want the best talking bird with an extensive vocabulary, there is simply no comparison to an African Grey.

Species Details: African Greys

  • Size: 13-15 inches
  • Weight: 14-16 ounces
  • Lifespan: 23 years
  • Cost: $1,500 or more
  • Colors: Grey colored with a black bill. Yellow eyes enclosed by a white ring
  • Vocabulary: 100 to 500 words

African Greys are the most prolific learners among all parrot species

2. Budgies/Parakeets

If you are looking for the best of both worlds – a beginner bird who is a great talker, budgies will be the winner.

Budgies are extremely popular companion birds. They are easy to care for, and since they are small, they are quite inexpensive as well.

But what sets these birds apart is their exceptional ability to pick up new words.

In fact, the record for the bird with the largest vocabulary in the world is held by a budgie called Puck. He could use as many as 1728 words!

Their talking abilities include both short words and longer phrases.

These birds have soft sounds, unlike some of the larger parrots, and their voice is a bit difficult to understand.

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    This puts a bit of a dampener on their talking abilities since it becomes difficult to understand what they are saying.

    But if you only want to enjoy the company of a loving pet who can talk rather than make a showpiece out of your bird, then that should not be a deterrent.

    Species Details: Budgies

    • Size: 7-8 inches
    • Weight: 1-1.5 ounces
    • Lifespan: 5-10 years
    • Cost: $10 to $50
    • Colors: 32 color variations. Blue, yellow, grey, green, and so on
    • Vocabulary: 120 to 150 words

    Budgies hold the record for the maximum vocabulary of words

    3. Quaker Parrots (or Monk Parakeets)

    If you are new to talking birds and want to get a bird that will learn to talk without putting too much effort into it, getting a Quaker parrot might be your best bet.

    Now, Quakers are illegal in some parts of the US since they are considered invasive. So before going ahead with anything, it would be best to check your local laws first.

    Quakers are extremely sociable birds with feisty personalities. These little birds can chatter on and on for hours if you keep them happy.

    But if they are angry or unhappy for some reason, they are also a bit aggressive – they can bite and nip at you.

    A Quaker can usually pick up about 50-60 words easily. But that’s not all – these birds are good at mimicking just about anything.

    Got a dog at your house? Your Quaker will mimic its barking. Got a unique ringtone? A Quaker pet can imitate that sound.

    They are fun to be around! With all this mimicking and copying sound, these birds are the center of attraction in any household they belong to.

    Quakers are fairly small birds, so they are easy to take care of. The only problem, as I said earlier, is that they can get aggressive sometimes.

    Species Details: Quaker Parrots (Monk Parakeets)

    • Size: 11-13 inches
    • Weight: 3.5 ounces
    • Lifespan: 20-30 years
    • Cost: $250 to $500
    • Colors: Mostly Lime green with a grey chest
    • Vocabulary: 40-100 words

    Quakers easily learn a wide variety of words and can even speak sentences

    4. Amazon Parrots

    Amazons are highly valued for their exceptional speaking abilities and clarity of voice, which is much better than many of the other parrot species that we are listing here.

    These birds can learn as many as 100 words and phrases. However, not all Amazons are born with this gift.

    Blue-fronted Amazons and Yello-Naped Amazons are generally considered the best talkers. Some of the others are more whistlers and singers rather than talkers.

    Amazons are mid-sized birds, and due to this reason, their upkeep and costs are higher.

    These birds are temperamentally more like Hollywood stars – they always want to be the center of attraction.

    If you find a bird that’s having its own little show in a group of birds, you can be pretty confident that it would be an Amazon most of the time.

    One thing that attracts pet owners towards them is that Amazons truly love being around people.

    And they also appreciate their toys and like having fun with them. These birds are extremely intelligent, so a lot of mental stimulation is necessary for them to remain happy.

    For a beginner, it might be best to choose one of the smaller Amazon species, such as the white-fronted and red-lored ones.

    These birds are not as pushy and easier to handle. Some of the larger ones aren’t very amenable to beginners.

    Species Details: Amazon Parrots

    • Size: 12-15 inches
    • Weight: 1-2 pounds
    • Lifespan: 70 years
    • Cost: $1200 – $1500
    • Colors: Mostly green
    • Vocabulary: 100-120 words

    Amazon parrots love to show off their talking skills

    5. Indian Ringnecks

    Indian ringneck parakeets are also known as rose-ringed parakeets.

    These birds come in many colors, but typically they are bright green and have a red ring around their neck, which is what gives them their name.

    Indian Ringnecks are excellent talkers. They can learn as many as 100-130 words.

    Moreover, these birds love to chatter a lot, and some of them can even express the emotion behind a word.

    Their voice clarity is very high, so even an unfamiliar person will quickly understand what they are saying.

    They can even mimic complete phrases and sentences.

    However, these birds are fairly demanding, so you might not think of them as beginner pets.

    They need a fair bit of training to become socialized and well-adapted to human households.

    These birds are also prone to biting and destructive behavior if not trained properly.

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      Moreover, these birds are loud by nature. Not only do they chatter a lot, but they will also be noisy while doing it.

      One positive that comes out of this is that they can be excellent guard birds.

      Species Details: Indian Ringnecks

      • Size: 15-17 inches
      • Weight: 5-6 ounces
      • Lifespan: 30 years
      • Cost: $400–$1,500
      • Colors: Green with a red ring around the neck. There is a blue variety as well.
      • Vocabulary: 100-130 words

      Indian ringnecks are chatter bugs. They talk a lot and pick up sounds quickly.

      6. Eclectus Parrots

      Eclectus parrots are large birds native to Australia and several islands in the South Pacific.

      These birds make for excellent talking pets. They are known for their friendliness, intelligence, and affectionate nature.

      When it comes to speech, Eclectus parrots can be very prolific.

      They are friendly and love to socialize, which is an important reason why they learn to mimic so quickly.

      Eclectus parrots have a very clear speaking voice, and they can even copy the speaker’s speech patterns.

      While they are not a noisy sort, they are highly skilled at repeating things. But one thing many don’t like is the pitch of the voice – their voices are excessively high pitched.

      Males are usually quicker to train and learn to talk more words than females. The reason is probably the same as in other birds like cockatiels – the males see talking as a mating ritual.

      Eclectus parrots need training from an early age. They tend to become a bit destructive if left untrained.

      They need a lot of mental stimulation because these birds are quite intelligent. Apart from speech training, you should get them several toys.

      Most Electus parrots can live to the age of 30 years, though on occasion and with care, some have lived beyond 50 years as well.

      These birds mix well with others, but like many other parrots, they are prone to jealousy.

      For a responsible beginner, a well-bred and trained Eclectus is an excellent pet.

      Species Details: Eclectus Parrots

      • Size: 11-12 inches
      • Weight: 3-5 ounces
      • Lifespan: 30 years
      • Cost: $125-$400
      • Colors: Males royal blue, while females are scarlet with royal blue plumage
      • Vocabulary: 100-120 words

      Male eclectus’s can have a fairly big vocabulary of words

      7. Cockatoos

      Cockatoos aren’t probably the first bird that you would think of when speaking about talking birds.

      But the males of these species can be trained to speak as many as 10 – 30 words easily.

      Their speech is fairly clear, and their voices are actually softer as compared to other birds.

      Cockatoos are intelligent but need a lot of care and attention. For that reason, they are not a good option as starter birds.

      They tend to get emotionally attached to their caregivers, and if they feel that their love is not being adequately reciprocated, they might become destructive.

      They can scream, bite and destroy things in their vicinity. Cockatoos also tend to start plucking their own feathers.

      One more problem is that cockatoos can live for longer than 50 years.

      Those who want to own a cockatoo should plan not only for their own life but what would happen to the bird after they are gone as well.

      Species Details: Cockatoos

      • Size: 17-20 inches
      • Weight: 13-19 ounces
      • Lifespan: 50-70 years
      • Cost: $2,000 to $4,000
      • Colors: Black, White, Grey.
      • Vocabulary: 20-50 words

      Cockatoos aren’t big talkers but they can also learn quite a few words

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        8. Macaws

        There are several types of Macaws, but nearly all of them can learn to talk. However, they won’t have a very large vocabulary.

        Among the most popular Macaw species are Hyacinths, Hahn’s, Blue and Golds, and so on.

        They are all pretty big (though Hahn’s Macaws are exceptionally smaller).

        These birds are highly intelligent. Not only can they learn to speak, but they also learn tricks pretty quickly.

        Moreover, Macaws tend to be docile, despite their large sizes.

        They are affectionate and loving birds who tend to get attached to their owners. And just like Amazons or Cockatoos, they are prone to feather plucking if they are not given attention.

        Again, Macaws need their fun and playtime. You have to take them out of their cages for at least 1-2 hours every day to keep them happy.

        While larger birds like Macaws are generally not recommended as beginner pets, they are talkers, and if you have done your research and have the space to keep them, you can opt for a Macaw as well.

        Do realize though that if you go out to buy one from a breeder, macaws can be some of the most expensive birds to buy. But if you are able to rescue one and have the patience to train your parrot, macaws can become excellent talkers.

        Species Details: Macaws

        • Size: 30-35 inches
        • Weight: 40-50 ounces
        • Lifespan: 30-40 years
        • Cost: $1,000–$18,000
        • Colors: Various colors, depending on species. From red to yellow to turquoise and indigo
        • Vocabulary: 20-50 words

        Macaws are large birds. Most of them can learn to talk easily

        9. Derbyan Parrots

        While not exactly the most prolific of talkers, Derbyan Parrots can be trained to learn a few words and even some phrases. 

        Their voice quality is comparable to that of Amazons; whatever they learn, they can speak very clearly.

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          These birds are very smart and intelligent. They also love to form strong bonds with their companion humans.

          They love to cuddle, show affection, be petted, and even do a few tricks for those that they love.

          Derbyan Parrots need a lot of stimulation in the form of toys and playtime. 

          Species Details: Derbyan Parrots

          • Size: 18-20 inches
          • Weight: 11-12 ounces
          • Lifespan: 30 years
          • Cost: $500+
          • Colors: Green with purplish blue head
          • Vocabulary: 10-30 words

          Derbyan Parrots can learn to talk a few words.
          Source: Peter Halasz, CC BY-SA 3.0

          10. Hawk-headed Parrots

          Also known as Red Fans, Hawk-headed parrots look a lot like hawks when they raise their neck nape and head feathers.

          These birds can be taught to say a few words, but they are not prolific speakers.

          Their voice quality is low and soft, so it can be hard to understand what they are saying.

          Hawk-headed parrots are temperamentally jokers. They love kidding around with their humans and like to play a lot of games.

          They are also very affectionate birds. 

          Species Details: Hawk-headed Parrots

          • Size: 12-14 inches
          • Weight: 10-12 ounces
          • Lifespan: 30-35 years
          • Cost: $1100-$4000
          • Colors: The wing and tail are green, the forehead is white and brown, the belly and breast are grey and red with a blue edge 
          • Vocabulary: 10-20 words

          11. Cockatiels

          Cockatiels are almost a universal favorite when it comes to beginner pet birds.

          These medium-sized birds are affectionate, loving, and gentle, learn tricks easily, and are also easy to train.

          But strictly speaking – they are not great talkers.

          Yes, cockatiels can learn to say a few words here and there, but they are more whistles and singers.

          It is only the males that usually learn to repeat a few words and phrases, and it’s mostly meant to impress the females.

          But from all other standpoints – these are excellent beginner birds.

          Growing up to 12-14 inches long, cockatiels come in several colors (though not as many as budgies).

          They absolutely adore social interaction with other birds and humans. 

          These birds pair bond in the wild, so they search for similar mates in the domestic environment as well.

          Species Details: Cockatiels

          • Size: 12-14 inches
          • Weight: 2.6-5.3 ounces
          • Lifespan: 15-20 years
          • Cost: $60-$600
          • Colors: 18 colors. Primarily grey but also yellow, white, and more.
          • Vocabulary: 10-20 words

          Cockatiels aren’t talkers, but you can teach the males to speak a few words. They love to whistle and sing.

          Frequently Asked Questions

          What birds can talk cheap?

          I would tend to think that dollar for dollar, you can get the best deal from the budgies.
          These birds are fairly cheap, they are small in size, and within no time, you can get them to say several words.
          Don’t forget that the bird with the highest vocabulary in the world was a budgie!
          Budgies can learn to talk very quickly, but unfortunately, these small birds only live for 5-8 years and need to be taken care of to even survive that long.
          If you are not looking for a long-term commitment, budgies are the best pet one can hope for.

          What pet bird talks the most?

          African Greys are the most intelligent birds in terms of vocabulary, though budgies can give them a run for their money.
          If the question is about which bird talks a lot, I would have to go with Amazon parrots.
          These birds love to be the center of attraction, so if they realize that you are attracted to their ability to speak words, they will just keep doing that to get your attention.
          Moreover, Amazons can also pick up a fairly large vocabulary quite quickly.

          What bird is the easiest to learn to talk?

          Again, budgies learn to talk most easily, but if you want to talk about which ones pick up more words in the long run, those are African Greys.
          African greys have an exceptional ability to mimic human speech. They can learn as many as 500- 1,000 words.
          They can understand and imitate sounds, which makes them a popular choice for those who want a talking bird as a pet.
          Budgies can pick up and mimic words easily, but they aren’t intelligent in using them – most of the time, they are throwing your words back at you.

          Which bird can learn to talk?

          The bird that is most commonly known for its ability to learn how to talk is the parrot.
          Parrots have a unique vocal structure that allows them to mimic human speech and other sounds they hear in their environment.
          Some parrot species, such as African grey parrots, are particularly skilled at learning words and phrases and can even understand the meaning behind the words they say.
          However, it is important to note that not all parrots will learn to talk, and it requires a lot of patience and training from their owners to help them develop this skill.

          Wrap Up

          So that’s it. I hope you got the answers you were seeking. Just to revisit the points I made in the article – African Greys, Budgies, Quakers, and Amazons are the best in terms of talkers.

          Out of these, budgies are the easiest to get and train, and of course, they are cheap as well as small in size.

          African greys are intelligent creatures, and they make great companions. They can learn hordes of words over their lifetime and interact intelligently with humans.

          Amazons, Eclectus parrots and Quaker parrots are all in a similar category in terms fo their vocabulary – they can all learn to speak quite a few words.

          Among the less prolific options are the cockatiels and cockatoos – these birds may have more desirable traits simply as beginner pets.

          I have given a range of different birds who can talk anywhere between 10 words and 500 words – after all; each person has their own preferences.

          Thank you for reading.

          Photo of author

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