A friend has recently welcomed their first parrot into their home: a cockatiel.
They’ve been getting on great together and he’s been doing really well, taking care of it.
As with any new parrot, it’s been a bit of a learning curve getting used to having it around and meeting all of its needs.
One thing he’s been a bit surprised by is the fact that his cockatiel seems to have no real desire to talk.
He’s been trying to get it to, but it just won’t react—to the point he wondered if they even can.
So, can cockatiels talk?
Cockatiels can talk, though not as well as some other species. Their vocabularies will usually be quite limited, to a handful of words or phrases. They have the same capacity to talk as most other parrots, they’re just not as good at memorizing words—and aren’t so inclined, either.
As far as we can tell, basically, all parrots appear to have the ability to talk.
Some are just more inclined to do so than other species or have a better capacity to memorize words.
So, yes, cockatiels can talk, but they don’t do so as extensively as other species.
Let’s look further into this.
Do cockatiels talk?
They do, yes, although not as much as other species.
As I said, they have the ability to talk as virtually all parrots do.
But where some parrots can memorize sentences, hundreds or even thousands of words and phrases, cockatiels generally only learn a few words and don’t speak them that often.
Some cockatiels might not speak at all.
They prefer to make other noises, like singing, chirping, whistling—virtually any noise they can make.
Vocalizing is a huge part of how cockatiels communicate with you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will always talk.
Why cockatiels don’t talk is not really clear.
Some parrots simply have more of a tendency to mimic sounds they hear.
It is thought that mimicking speech is a way for parrots to become one of our flock, and fit in better with us.
Cockatiels, apparently, don’t feel much need to do this.
They are happy to vocalize in other ways to be one of the team.
Some might argue it’s an intelligence issue—that they just don’t have the capacity to memorize long words and phrases.
In any case, don’t get a cockatiel expecting to have long conversations with it.
How do you teach a cockatiel to talk?
Firstly, I want to say there’s no guarantee you will be able to do so.
You can certainly encourage it to speak more, but it won’t always work.
And if you want to have any real chance of it sticking, you need to get started at a very young age.
From the earliest possible point, spend as much time talking to it as you can. speak loudly and clearly in any phrases you might want it to remember.
That said, the actual training itself generally can’t really start until it’s at least 8 months old.
But it’s still good to get a head start.
Any time you hear it talking, use positive reinforcement.
Give it a treat or attention to let it know you are happy with it for talking.
This can certainly help to encourage it.
This kind of training is always a good go-to.
With enough diligence and patience, you may well end up with a chatty cockatiel.
Again, though, there’s never any guarantee that this will work.
Cockatiels just don’t talk all that much.
At what age do cockatiels start talking?
So, again, remaining with the caveat that they may not really end up talking at all, as I said, there is generally an age that they will begin to be able to talk.
This can vary a huge amount between individuals, but it is usually somewhere from 8 to 10 months.
This is when they will begin to have the mental capacity to remember and mimic words and phrases.
But it could vary a lot, and they might not start talking until they’re quite a bit older.
If they’re around 2 years old and show no signs of talking yet, then there’s a good chance they won’t ever.
So, why is it that cockatiels don’t talk?
Why don’t cockatiels talk?
It’s difficult to accurately say.
Some parrots are just far more inclined to mimic sounds they hear.
Cockatiels communicate vocally, of course, but they do so in simple whistles, songs and chirps.
Mimicking noises is a way, often, of impressing females with their natural ability.
Cockatiels just don’t really operate this way.
As I said, given that they all have the ability to talk, one way or another, we can only really surmise that cockatiels just don’t want to.
Mimicking noises is a pretty complex cognitive function, being able to accurately reproduce them requiring a lot of memory of the noises.
But the truth is we really don’t know for sure.
Cockatiels are fantastic pets and very popular parrots, then, but the fact is they just don’t talk very much.
If you want a parrot that can develop a wide vocabulary, a cockatiel may not be right for you.
But you shouldn’t always put too much hope in their ability to talk—even the chattiest species can have very quiet individuals that don’t mimic much speech.
Think of your parrot as a great pet in its own right, that may or may not learn to speak.