How To Teach A Cockatiel To Talk ( Explained)

Cockatiels are lovely birds to keep as pets. They are intelligent and make excellent companions. However, cockatiels can become very skilled talkers. Although teaching your Cockatiel to talk will take some time, teaching it this skill will allow you to develop a deep and enjoyable bond with him. But, how to teach a cockatiel to talk?

How To Teach A Cockatiel To Talk

Once you build a bond with your Cockatiel, you can start by saying single words whenever spending time with your Cockatiel. One of the best ways to teach your Cockatiel to talk is by choosing a few short words to say. An owner can teach short phrases after teaching single words. Cockatiels should be happy and respond to everything you attempt to speak.

Like training any other pet to learn e new trick or to finally learn to use the litter box, training a cockatiel to speak takes time and patience. In addition to time, cockatiel owners must put up a specific effort. Whether or not your Cockatiel is male or female, they may not be as talkative or even learn how to speak.

So, we already know that cockatiels try to mimic what’s in their environment already. So, the best way to train your Cockatiel is to understand what sounds are in their environment.

If the Cockatiel is not in a social location at all and is usually kept in a place where silence is the norm, that is the absolute worst thing you can do when trying to teach them to talk.

How To Teach A Cockatiel To Talk ( Step-By-Step)

While cockatiels copy what you say, it takes training to help them string words together and grasp basic grammar. While cockatiels need to be trained to learn words, their intelligence levels also have a large part to play.

Nevertheless, you can teach your Cockatiel to talk using the following steps:

1. Socialize your Cockatiel

Cockatiels learn to talk by mimicking the intonations of the words they hear. Choose a place in your home, such as your living room, where your Cockatiel would be able to hear human voices.

Your kitchen is likely another hub of human conversation, but the fumes from nonstick appliances are highly toxic to cockatiels. So never place your Cockatiel’s cage in the kitchen.

Like wild cockatiels learning their flock’s language, your Cockatiel will want to know the language of his human flock. Exposing your Cockatiel to human voices will help him learn human language.

2. Bond with your Cockatiel

Developing a bond with your Cockatiel is essential to teach him how to talk. The more bonded your Cockatiel is to you, the more effort it will put into learning how to speak and communicate with you.

Spending quiet time in the same room ( like reading or watching tv) with your Cockatiel is an excellent way to start bonding. In addition, this will help him feel more comfortable around you if your Cockatiel is not comfortable already.

Also, hand-taming your Cockatiel and teaching him to step up are other good ways to bond with your Cockatiel. In addition, a tamed cockatiel is more likely than an untamed cockatiel to learn how to talk.

Spend time bonding with your Cockatiel every day.

3. Choose a quiet place to start teaching your Cockatiel

If the area is quieterOpens in a new tab., your Cockatiel will be able to focus on you and your words. Also, if your Cockatiel is easily distracted, you can even try talking to it while its cage is covered. This will eliminate visual distractions as well.

4. Use simple words

Start with simple one or two-syllable words that are easier for your Cockatiel to mimic. Once your Cockatiel gets comfortable mimicking easy words, you can move on to longer, more complicated phrases.

For example, you can say ‘good bird’ when your Cockatiel steps up onto your fingerOpens in a new tab.. You could also ask him, like “Was it enjoyable?’ when your bird is playing with his toys.

Also, you can talk to him when you change out his food and water. For example, you could try saying, ‘Here is your food’ when you are feeding him.

5. Repetition

Cockatiels will learn the words they hear the most, which is the same way when human babies pick up a language. Repeatedly say the word or phrases you want your Cockatiel to say, and it will eventually include it in its vocabulary.

6. Association

Cockatiels mimic faster when they can associate a phrase with something they see or hear, such as an:

  • Action
  • Object
  • Expression
  • Sound

When carrying out this technique, repeat the action, make the sound, and raise the object to your Cockatiel’s eye level. Repeat these actions a few times while saying the word.

7. Keep lessons short

Do not stress your Cockatiel out by carrying out long training sessions too often. Keep them short so that your Cockatiel has the maximum chance of retaining words and phrases. Also, try to keep sessions as fun as possible.

8. Consistency and patience

You will need plenty of consistency and patience when training your Cockatiel to speak. Cockatiels have good memories, but they need daily training to build up a decent vocabulary.

Similarly, training is not always going to be easy. Some cockatiels are stubborn, while others do not have an excellent mental capacity due to events from their past. Therefore, you need to be patient and not push your Cockatiel too hard to learn.

9. Positive reinforcement

Cockatiels are motivated by rewards, such as tasty treats or affection. So treat your Cockatiel to its favorite food each time it successfully mimics a word or phrase.

Depending on your cockatiels preferences, there isn’t a right thing to do. For example, some cockatiels may like human food better, but some may enjoy special bird treats. Whatever you do, make it positive.

How Long Does It Take For Your Cockatiel To Talk?

It might take about two months of intense training for your Cockatiel to learn to talk. However, the duration depends on the Cockatiel’s age and your teaching skills.

The key is to acquire a young cockatiel, preferably 3-4 months old, and talk to it at every chance you get. The more you repeat your words and phrases, your Cockatiel will quickly learn to speak and mimic your sounds.

How Many Words Can A Cockatiel Learn?

Cockatiels can learn more than 200 words. But, of course, every Cockatiel is different. For example, some cockatiels won’t mimic that many words, even if they have the capacity to do so.

Teaching a cockatiel to talk more than 200 words is no small feat. Despite how much they enjoy talking, they don’t just pick it up on their own.

It takes a lot of training to teach a cockatiel that many words. However, if you want to expand your Cockatiel’s vocabulary by that much, it’s not impossible, but it will be a long journey ahead.

The best words to teach cockatiels are short and easily repeated. These include greetings, names, and short declarations, such as “food time.” Other terms include those for training, those that sound fun, and words that express what your Cockatiel is feeling.

To help you find the correct vocabulary, we have compiled a list of easy words just for cockatiels. These should be practiced with your Cockatiel every day and with your enthusiasm. The happier you seem about the word, the keener your Cockatiel will be to mimic it.

Easiest Words To Teach A Cockatiel

When it comes to words, your Cockatiel will quickly pick up the following or even learn them on its own:

  • Names.
  • Greetings, like hi and hello.
  • Phrases are constantly repeated, like ‘ time for food’ or ‘I love you.’

The fact that the words are condensed and simple to repeat helps.

For more complicated words, some tips to keep in mind are:

  • Say your word with enthusiasm.
  • Enunciate your words as much as possible.

1. Helpful words

There are words you can teach just for fun, some of which can take care of your Cockatiel:

  • Hungry – cockatiels always seem to be hungry.
  • Want food – an alternative to ‘hungry’ that may be easier to learn.
  • Thirsty – is a helpful word, especially on hot days. Teach this word to help your Cockatiel avoid dehydration.
  • Play – cockatiels need playtime to keep them happy and healthy. This word will help you know when your Cockatiel needs to play.
  • Lonely – cockatiels need attention for their health and well-being. Teach your Cockatiel to express when it needs companionship, so you can raise your Cockatiel better and even deepen your relationship.
  • Hot – cockatiels can’t regulate temperature well, so teach this word whenever your Cockatiel needs a good misting.
  • Cold – cockatiels are worse at tolerating the cold than they are in hot weather. Teach this word to let you know when to lower the temperature.
  • Like – knowing what your Cockatiel likes in handy. Not just for food, toys, or even attention.
  • Don’t like – knowing what your Cockatiel doesn’t like is just as important.
  • Uh-oh – an excellent word for letting you know if something is wrong, whether it’s an accident or emergency.
  • Ouch – teach this word to let you know if your Cockatiel has been hurt.
  • Walky – some cockatiels need some time outdoors. This will let you know if your Cockatiel wants to go outside.Opens in a new tab.
  • Pick me up – this word is an excellent way for your Cockatiel to tell you that it wants to cuddle or to perch on your shoulder.

2. Greetings

Greetings are a terrific way to start a discussion and give it a fuller, more genuine sound.

  • Hello – some cockatiels may learn this word on their own. However, it’s an easy phrase to learn and is often repeated around other cockatiels.
  • Hi – for cockatiels who struggle with ‘hello,’ ‘hi’ is a great alternative.
  • Hey – this word is another alternative to ‘hello.’
  • Howdy – for a fun version of ‘hello,’ why not teach your Cockatiel to greet like a cowboy?
  • Ahoy – another alternative to ‘hello.’ This pirate version has sounds that are easy to mimic.
  • Rise and Shine – these words contain long vowels that will be easy for cockatiels to mimic.
  • Good Morning – this word will be likely truncated to ‘g morning,’ but will be fairly easy for cockatiels to learn.
  • Goodbye – similarly, expect this to be shortened to ‘g bye.’ It helps your Cockatiel to learn that you are about to leave and can ensure your Cockatiel is less anxious.
  • Bye-Bye – a simpler version of ‘goodbye’ that may be easier to learn.
  • Night-Night – it’s a more accessible version of ‘good evening’ and a great way to tell your Cockatiel that it’s time to sleep.

3. Context words

These words can help give more context to your Cockatiel’s conversations:

  • Treat – what if your Cockatiel needs a treat? This word will help you determine when your Cockatiel needs a snack.
  • Breakfast – the day’s most important meal can be a part of your Cockatiel’s vocabulary.
  • Lunch – eventually, your Cockatiel will learn what the word means, even if it’s harder to figure out its context.
  • Dinner – the ‘d’ sound in dinner is an alveolar sound made with the tongue. This sound can be tricky for cockatiels, so expect your bird to turn it into ‘eener’ instead.
  • Cracker – expect your Cockatiel to pronounce this as ‘racker.’ However, this word is handy whenever your Cockatiel wants a tasty treat.
  • Peanut – teach your Cockatiel its favorite treat. Expect your Cockatiel to apply the term to every nut it comes across, whether or not they are peanuts.
  • Orange – this fruit is a favorite among many cockatiels. Teaching your pet this word is simple, especially if you combine it with other fruits. Try to teach it the names of different fruits as well.
  • More – cockatiels who love to eat will love this word. This is a great way to help you determine if your Cockatiel likes a certain treat. Just watch out to not overfeed it.
  • Yum – this is another word that can help you figure out if your Cockatiel likes its food or not. This can be a great way to help your Cockatiel eat more.
  • Enough – teaching your Cockatiel to say ‘enough’ can help you train it to understand limits.
  • Please – teach your Cockatiel some manners by only giving it treats once it’s said ‘please.’ It may take time for your Cockatiel to understand, but it will get there in the end.
  • Thanks – another manner-related word, ‘thanks’ is easy to say and will amaze your guests at your Cockatiel’s politeness.

4. Nicknames

You will no doubt come up with some unique nicknames for your Cockatiel, but have some fun with teaching your Cockatiel these sweet monikers first.

  • Their NameOpens in a new tab. – this word should be easy to learn as you will repeat it often when you are around your Cockatiel.
  • Your Name – your name is a good word to teach if ever your Cockatiel needs your attention.
  • Cockatiel – is an easy word that will let your Cockatiel refer to itself.
  • Cutie – this is a sweet nickname that suits any cockatiel, regardless of its gender. Try adding ‘Pie’ on end to extend the nickname.
  • Sweetie – this word can have two meanings. It either makes a lovely nickname or indicates that tasty treats are coming.
  • Friend – though the ‘F’ sound can be difficult for cockatiels to produce, some can get close to it.
  • Buddy – if ‘Friend’ is a little bit too tricky, then ‘Buddy’ is slightly easier to teach.
  • Matey – is an informal way to say ‘friend’ and is comical to hear from a cockatiel’s mouth.
  • Pretty Cockatiel – a classic phrase for cockatiels to learn.
  • Good Boy/Girl – this nickname is a good one to partner with a reward to let your Cockatiel know it’s doing a great job.
  • Atta Boy – this one is a little more conversational and is an excellent way to reward a male cockatiel.

Here are a few phrases and words to use when training your pets to get along.

  • Pet names – if you have other pets in the house, train your Cockatiel to understand what they are.
  • Cat – this simple word is accessible for all cockatiels to say and understand.
  • Meow – it’s fun to hear a cockatiel mimic other animals. However, this word can also be used as a warning against cats.
  • Kitty – in the same vein as ‘meow,’ ‘kitty’ is a good word for cockatiels living with cats to understand.
  • Woof – cockatiels and dogs mix slightly better than cats and dogs, so train your Cockatiel to understand what ‘woof’ means.
  • Dog – whenever your Cockatiel comes into contact with your canine friend, say ‘dog’ while pointing towards the animal.
  • Walkies is a fun word that all cockatiels can easily say and understand.

6. Trick and commands

Before you start teaching your Cockatiel any tricks or commands, teaching them the words associated with them makes life easier and helps your Cockatiel pick them up far more quickly.

  • Step-up – is one of the easiest tricks to teach, so add this phrase to your Cockatiel’s repertoire to make it easier for your Cockatiel to learn.
  • Come – can be used in place of ‘step-up’ to teach the same trick if you would like.
  • Kiss – cockatiels don’t have lips, but that doesn’t mean they can’t give a little nuzzle with their beak occasionally.
  • Out – you can train your Cockatiel to say ‘out’ whenever it wants to get out of its cage.
  • Away – if your Cockatiel’s had enough for one day, try to teach it a contextual awareness of what ‘go away means.
  • Home – teach your Cockatiel to say ‘home’ when it wants to go back into its cage, or it’s had enough of being handled.
  • Sing – encourage your Cockatiel to break into song by commanding ‘sing.’ You can lead by example with this one by singing a simple tune first.
  • Dance – get your Cockatiel moving by saying, ‘dance.’ Dance along with your Cockatiel to strengthen your bond.
  • Disco – works just as well and means it’s party time!
  • Peekaboo – what better way to bond with your Cockatiel than to play games together? ‘Peekaboo’ only has three syllables, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to teach.
  • Marco – peekaboo isn’t the only game you can play with your Cockatiel. ‘Marco Polo’ is another fun option.
  • Polo – once your Cockatiel knows how to say ‘polo,’ tag it onto ‘Marco.’
  • Up – use this word to command your Cockatiel to look up.
  • The same goes for getting your Cockatiel to look down to the floor. Use actions to help your Cockatiel learn.
  • Door – teach your Cockatiel to use this phrase when someone is at the door.
  • Intruder – is an excellent word to teach in case your Cockatiel fails to recognize someone at the door.
  • Wallet – the same goes for your wallet if you head out to the shops.
  • Phone – encourage your Cockatiel to learn the term “phone” to keep it from being mistakenly left behind.

7. Conditional

It’s good to be in tune with your Cockatiel’s wants and needs. These words and phrases will help you communicate with your Cockatiel more clearly.

  • Happy – teaching the word ‘happy’ is an excellent way to understand your Cockatiel’s mood.
  • Sad – you should also teach your Cockatiel to let you know when it feels a bit blue so you can improve its mood.
  • Angry – we hope your Cockatiel doesn’t get mad too often but train your Cockatiel to say this word so you can prevent the avoidable issues.
  • Hot – encourage your Cockatiel to communicate with you if it ever gets too hot. This can help you determine whether you need to change the room’s temperature.
  • Cold – the same goes for the word ‘cold.’ Most cockatiels are from warm climates, so this word is useful.
  • Lonelyall cockatiels need attentionOpens in a new tab., so it helps to know when they need a little more than what you provide.
  • Play – cockatiels love to play, so repeat ‘play’ whenever it’s time to have some fun.

8. Conversation

Once your Cockatiel’s learned a few essential words and phrases, start putting them into practice in conversation with bite-sized sentences.

  • Yes – it is one of the simplest but most effective words to teach your Cockatiel. Try associating it with positive action to help your Cockatiel understand its meaning.
  • No – is another important word, as it can help your Cockatiel communicate with you that it’s not on board with whatever you’re doing.
  • What – cockatiels are curious creatures that love to explore, so encourage their curiosity with the word ‘what?’
  • Me – use the word ‘me’ to let your cockatiel know who you are.
  • You – you can use ‘you’ in many conversations, depending on the context.
  • How Are You – asking your cockatiel how it is a lovely way to show you care.
  • What’s Up – may be two words, but it’s only two syllables. Therefore, it should be relatively easy to teach.
  • Like – when your cockatiel likes something, train it to let you know about it with the word ‘like.’
  • Don’t Like – the same goes for when your cockatiel doesn’t like something.
  • Uh-Oh – when something bad happens, your cockatiel should be able to let you know, so teach it to say ‘uh-oh’ in case of accidents or emergencies.
  • Ooh La La – despite being three words with three syllables, ‘ooh la la’ is very easy for a cockatiel to pick up thanks to the softer vowel sounds.
  • Sorry – we all make mistakes, and no doubt your cockatiel will, too, at the same point-like spilling its food all over the place!
  • Ouch – train your cockatiel to say ‘ouch’ if it ever hurts itself or feels unwell.
  • Tv – some cockatiel enjoy watching tv, so turn on the television and repeat the word ‘tv.’
  • Radio – cockatiels also enjoy whistling along to their favorite tunes, so add the word ‘radio’ to your cockatiel’s vocabulary when you put some tunes on.

9. Fun novelty words

Why not have some fun with the words you teach your cockatiel? Here are some words and phrases that add the novelty factor to your cockatiel’s vocabulary.

  • Yee-Haw – as well as teaching your cockatiel how to say ‘howdy,’ why not go one step further? ‘Yee-haw’ has soft vowel sounds, which are easy to mimic.
  • Giddy-Up – teach your cockatiel to bob up and down like it’s riding a horse as you repeat ‘giddy-up’ over and over.
  • Yarr – is a fun way to embrace the pirate culture that cockatiels are commonly associated with.
  • Alert – have your cockatiel repeat ‘alert,’ and you’ve got your personal alarm system.
  • Christmas – for those who celebrate Christmas, this phrase is bound to pop up naturally in your cockatiel’s vocabulary at least once a year.
  • Birthday – Whether celebrating your cockatiel’s birthday or your own, try to have fun with this word so that your cockatiel understands it represents a special day.
  • Easter – continuing down the holiday theme, ‘easter’ is an excellent seasonal word to teach your cockatiel.
  • ABCs- are an excellent way for your cockatiel to learn various sounds.
  • Numbers 1-6 – cockatiels are known to count reliably up to 6, but try to go further.
  • I’m A Little Teapot – this children’s song is easy to teach your cockatiel.

Have fun teaching your cockatiel these words and phrases. Take your time and make training sessions as interactive as possible for the best results.

How A Cockatiel Talks

A cockatiel version of “talking” is very different from the process in humans. Because of the vibrating of our vocal chords, humans can vocalize or speak.

Cockatiels, like all birds, do not have vocal cords which makes it interesting that they can reproduce speech that sounds uncannily like a natural person.

Cockatiel “speech” occurs when the Cockatiel directs air through the muscles in its throat. To the Cockatiel, they are just attempting to reproduce the sound around them.

This skill happened as a learned response over time as cockatiels have adapted. However, humans do it all the time. For example, you wear a suit and tie to a business meeting because you have been socialized. Again, it is a learned response.

Many social experiments have proved that humans, just like animals, respond similarly to our environments even when it doesn’t make sense.

Once humans were introduced into the Cockatiel’s environment, things changed. We started to interpret their reproductions as “talking.” When a cockatiel is kept as a pet, they are primarily exposed to the noises of humans rather than the traditional noises of a cockatiel flock or the jungle.

Thus, the Cockatiel mimics or adopts those human noises as an attempt to socialize appropriately in this environment. They try to mimic the appropriate noises for belonging because pet owners are their flock.

Cockatiel Enthusiast

My name is Bojan. I have been around Cockatiels for the past 7 years. I love writing about Cockatiels and helping people understand how these beautiful birds live, what they like, and how to provide them the best possible care.

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