How do I get my Parrotlet to talk in front of me?

by Barbara
(Mount Hope, Ontario, Canada)

My Parrotlet is quite the talker, but only talks when he thinks that I'm not paying any attention to him. I can talk or sing with him from another room and he will talk and sing, but once I'm sitting beside him or standing in the same room, he clams up. If I'm reading in the same room, he'll talk a blue streak. Thanks. Barb

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Aug 31, 2010
How do I get my Parrotlet to talk in front of me?
by: Linda

Barb, this is common, and there is no reason to be concerned. When birds first start talking, they have to practice to get it exactly as they want it. They like to practice either in privacy or when we are not paying much attention to them like when reading or doing something in another room.

Once your bird feels more comfortable with his/her vocabulary, bird will start to talk in front of you and will eventually respond to conversation with them. For instance, they will start asking for things, like one of my Amazons will ask for food by saying "Cookie?" Of course, Eli wants "Cookies" all the time which is not good for him, so he does not always get a cookie when he asks for it. He also says names of our dogs and will call them to come to him. Mostly, they ignore the birds since the humans in their pack are the only ones who actually "deliver" any goods or services.

The parrot family are good mimics, and in time, they can actually put short, simple sentences together. Our Amazons were boarded for a long time when we painted in our house, and when they came in, I said, "I'll bet Eli and Stella are glad to finally be home", Eli's out of the blue reply was "That's Right!". He also says, "How are U, Cookie", which is self explanatory. I'm not sure of the Parrotlet's full talking ability, but I think that if you listen well, you'll eventually be amazed at what all comes out of that tiny little bird's mouth! Parrots have the emotional/mental development of 4-5 year old children, so though they'll never grow up and act like adult humans, they will learn a great many things and are able to feel the full emotional range that humans do except for, of course, abstracts. All animals and birds live totally in the NOW with no thought to the future and no worries about what will happen tonmorrow as they have no concept of tomorrow, worry, depression or any of the abstracts we entertain. This includes any negative values in speech. When a person says, "Don't do that again", bird only hears "Do that again", so it takes some practice to know how to discipline a bird or animal correctly. No abstracts means even the word NO is not heard. You can say, "Stop that, right now!", and this will be understood as you want them to stop doing whatever they are doing.

Thanks for writing, and living with a parrot is a life-long adventure, so enjoy every moment.

Linda

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