Cockatiels love to sing and dance, and there are many videos of them doing these things. But do cockatiels talk as well? Can they understand what we are saying to them? Let’s find out!
Cockatiels are intelligent birds, and many of them can learn to vocalize and whistle songs.
Cockatiel owners often encourage this ability by training them to pick up more tunes and phrases.
Training cockatiels to sing is fairly easy, as it comes naturally to them.
If you have pet birds, whistle training can be a great way to interact with them and keep them mentally sharp.
Moreover, a singing bird is a sign of a happy cockatiel!
But what about talking? Can they repeat words in the human language the way some parrot species can? Let’s find out.
Does a Cockatiel Bird Talk?
Pet cockatiels can learn to mimic words and phrases.
However, their speech abilities are generally not as advanced as those of larger parrot species, such as African Grey Parrots or Amazon Parrots.
However, the Nymphicus hollandicus are known for their ability to learn and whistle songs, melodies, and other sounds.
Talking is rare, and most cockatiels pick up whistles and chirps instead of phrases.
The level of talking ability can vary depending on the individual bird, and some may not talk at all, despite repetitive training (even if it’s the breeding season).
Whistling is natural, and most male birds pick it up quickly.
Can a Male Cockatiel Talk?
Male cockatiels can whistle, talk and chirp. Most males will automatically pick up whistling if they are exposed to continuous songs on the TV or radio.
As for talking, their voices are not as clear as some other parrot species, but they can imitate the overall phonetic sound.
Do Female Cockatiels Talk?
Females are capable of whistling. But they are not as talkative, and their vocal abilities are more limited than that of male cockatiels.
It is rare to see female birds whistle complex tunes or emit beyond one or two notes.
When Do Cockatiels Start Talking?
Most cockatiels will start picking up sounds at around three months of age.
But proper training to mimic sounds and whistles can only start when they are around 8 to 10 months of age and are almost mature.
Before this, they mostly rely on singular whistles and trills.
If you have a wild bird rescued too late, it might be difficult to teach them to vocalize human sounds.
How Many Words Can a Cockatiel Learn?
There is no exact count of how many words a cockatiel can learn since learning is subjective to that specific bird’s ability and training.
Based on some instances, we do know that some cockatiels can have a vocabulary of up to 90 words over a period of 2 years!
However, your bird could be more or less vocal depending on their personality.
Cockatiel Talking Explained
Cockatiels produce noise in the syrinx. The syrinx is a vocal organ that all birds have, and it is located at the bottom of the trachea.
By contracting its muscles, the syrinx can produce different vibrations – giving rise to varied notes and sounds.
Humans have a larynx in place of the syrinx, which can produce more complex vibrations.
We also have lips that can change their formation to further give a different sound to words. Cockatiels do not have movable beaks, because of which their speech is limited.
They also have a brain that allows them to detect beats or music and imitate it.
Cockatiels have a very advanced understanding of symphonies and can imitate them in sync with real music and even sing in unison.
How Can You Teach a Cockatiel To Talk?
Teaching a Cockatiel to talk involves patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Here’s how you can build a daily routine for this:
- Start them young: Cockatiels are most likely to learn to talk at three months old. By eight months, you should put them onto a training routine to learn tunes and sounds.
- Spend regular talking time: Cockatiels are social animals and will respond to your interaction with them. Allot a certain time each day for social interactions.
- Repeat words and phrases: Repeat the same words and phrases to your Cockatiel consistently. Start with simple words and phrases and gradually increase the complexity.
- Use positive reinforcement: Reward your Cockatiel with treats or praise when it mimics a word or phrase.
Remember that some birds will have a natural inclination to talk more than others. But you can still train those more silent and see if they open up.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Slow and Steady
Two things can help teach certain cockatiel words.
The first is speaking slowly and clearly, enunciating every syllable so that your bird can sound it out.
The second is frequently exposing them to this.
If you want to teach them a word, repeat it many times a day to them. If you want them to pick up a tune, play it on a loop for a couple of days.
Soon you will notice your bird trying to mimic it. Once they start on their first words, the rest gets easier. Give them treats to encourage this behavior.
One Bird at a Time
It’s easier to teach a single bird to talk.
Since people often buy cockatiels in pairs of two, the two birds communicate with one another and show little interest in learning human vocabulary.
On the other hand, if you get one bird first, train it, and then purchase a second, it’s easier to teach them words.
Moreover, the older bird can chip in with the second bird’s education.
If you plan on teaching your birds words, get the second bird after your first bird has reached one year of age or has learned some tunes.
A simple way to teach your bird short phrases is to talk to them using those phrases. Instead of simply using those words in passing, direct them toward your cockatiel.
By involving them in the conversation and talking at a close range, they will be encouraged to take part and respond.
Try to exaggerate and express your emotions more passionately.
This will help your bird understand or associate the meaning of certain phrases with those actions or emotions.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get my cockatiel to talk?
The first step is to practice talking to your bird. Use short phrases and say them the same way each time. It’s important to use a pleasant tone of voice and avoid sudden noises.
Also, offer positive reinforcement when your cockatiel says something correctly.
Offer treats such as fruits, veggies, or seeds whenever it repeats a word correctly. Repetition and consistency are key, so keep practicing every day until your cockatiel catches on!
Do female cockatiels talk or whistle?
Yes, female cockatiels can both talk and whistle.
While most parrot species are known for their ability to mimic human speech, cockatiels are known for their own cheerful songs and whistles.
In fact, male cockatiels have a more impressive vocal range than females, but they do still make many different happy sounds of their own.
Female cockatiels have been studied to learn new words and phrases but understand very few on their own and are less likely to interact vocally with humans compared to males.
Do cockatiels recognize their owners?
Yes, cockatiels can recognize their owners and develop a strong social bond with them.
Cockatiels are intelligent birds that enjoy interacting with people, so they can learn to respond to their owner’s voice and commands.
They build strong, long-lasting relationships with the people that care for them and may even start to show signs of affection over time.
With proper care and socialization, they can determine who is familiar or unfamiliar and will often display more trusting behavior around their owners.
Can you sleep with a cockatiel?
No, you should not sleep with a cockatiel. Cockatiels require a good night’s rest and sleeping in the same area as them can disturb their sleep and stress them out.
Also, many individuals are allergic to bird feathers which makes it more difficult to sleep together.
It is best to provide the cockatiel its own comfortable and secure space for rest and sleep away from its human companion.