Squak! Tell me about parrots. Squak!

My friend has an African Grey and I am amazed at how accurate it mimics. It isn’t anything like the cartoon pirate-parrots. So what kind of parrot should a self-respecting pirate get? What kind of parrot sounds like the stereotypical cartoon parrot?

Also, are all talking birds a type of parrot? Do all types of parrots talk?

Macaws are the stereotypical pirate parrot. They come in bright red and green, and bright blue and yellow, and their voices generally sound a lot like the “parrot voice.”

Not all talking birds are parrots. Mynahs come to mind. I think all types of parrots mimic, but how well - and whether it talks or not - is on an individual basis. I’ve always heard that budgerigars (known in the USA as parakeets) can talk, but I’ve never heard one do anything but burbly-chirp in precocious patterns.

Many different birds mimic, some capable of mimicking the human voice. Your standard flying-rat Starling, if raised in captivity, can talk with the best of them. I’ve also heard domesticated crows, ravens, and other Corvids can talk, but have never known this to be the case personally.

Not all Psitticines (parrots) talk; not sure what the breakdown is.

First things first: parrots are a massive responsibility. They are emotionally needy and get destructive if they feel slighted or unloved. Heck, they’re destructive even when they’re happy. They demand lots of attention. It takes them a little while to get used to strangers, so don’t plan on the instant buddy attitude you’re likely to get with a dog. Also, they can live a very long time. I’ve seen estimates for various species ranging from sixty to one hundred years; Charlie, a blue and gold macaw still living in Britain (and at one time the property of Winston Churchill), has papers going back to the nineteenth century.

If you want a good talker, the African gray is the champ. It takes some work and lots of patience to train a parrot to talk. Studies indicate that grays can associate verbalizations with concepts, but simple sentences are beyond them. No parrot sounds like the ones in cartoons. I’ve never heard of a parrot that can’t mimic to some extent, even budgerigar parakeets can learn a few phrases, but it’s mostly the larger species that are known as talkers.

You, sir, have never met my mother’s Hahns macaw, Ziggy. Now, he doesn’t go “RAAK! Pieces of eight! RAAK!”, but his voice is DEFINITELY “cartoon parrot voice.”

Not all parrots mimic human voices as perfectly as the creepily-accurate African grey (my parents own two of them, and it’s like being in a haunted house if they decide to get talky at night). Most macaws I’ve met have their own voices which are pretty raspy and “RAAWK!!”-ish; the Quaker parakeets I’ve known have tended to “speak” with the same odd baby-talk chirp that their natural sounds come out in; budgies probably sound like they’re chirping funny, as opposed to opening their beaks and emitting cassette-recording “hellos.”

I have a blue fronted amazon that sounds like a cartoon parrot. I’ve not tried to teach him to say things, but he has picked a few things up and uses them when needed --phone rings, he says hello. You walk by him he says “hello larry”. Stuff like that.

That said, I am trying to teach him how to say “Arrrgh says I”

By the way, HIS name is Larry.

I’m still not sure why he thinks everyone else is named Larry. :smack:
:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Here you go, my dear. As requested.

Senegals are my choice. Very friendly and playful, these are the birds you can roll onto their backs and they’ll just sit blinking at you. They are fairly affectionate for a small size bird but independent too.

Sun Conures are beautiful birds but VERY loud and squawky. they like to scream to greet the sunrise.

Greys are very intelligent.

The typical parrot, as explained is a macaw. BIG birds, needy and demanding.

Quakers are nippy, but fairly small (less than 12 inches is what I mean when I say small).

Pionuses are good apartment birds but also scream to greet the sunrise (most parrots do this, but at varying volumes).

If I was a rich housewife I’d get me a Goffin’s cockatoo and cuddle it all day. They LOVE to cuddle but often pluck feathers if left alone too much. Oh, and if you see a bird plucking regularly, this is bad, bad, bad. Get help.

Most parrots do not talk a lot. Really it depends on the personality more than the species.

Parrots (and all birds) are needy and demanding. They will generally pick one person in the house, perhaps the one with the highest-pitched voice. It will probably not be the one who feeds them.

No candles, teflon pans. Bird breathing is very fragile. They sell special pots and pans that are non-teflon & bird-safe. Hard to get…Macy’s does sell a couple types though.

Need a LARGE cage if they are going to spend a lot of time in there. Also preferable is if you have a seperate room for their cage to be in when they are being bad (less reinforcement). The cage better have an ‘interesting’ lock or the bird will figure out how to open it.

They are not overly loving but have much more distinct personalites than doggies I think. Personally i LOVE birds. They are smart and do all kinds of things.

Be careful you can deal with what they eat. For example, lorikeets have a primarily fruit diet, so completely LIQUID POOPS is a big factor. Not to mention how far they can fling it when they’re having a fit of pique (the fruit, not the poop!)

Read an article about a cop who had adopted a rainbow lorikeet. Someone had abandoned it or some such thing. Anyway, it used to sit on his shoulder, and the article noted how when he scolded his men it would bob up and down and yell at them too, like it was his happy helper.

Birds are a GREAT friend for one person or two people. They are a good mix of cat and dog personality, a little more contained than either, and with plenty of their own quirks.

Og, I want a bird. :frowning:

One more thing: if you get a ‘talker’ there is NO guarantee he’s going to learn anything YOU want him to say.

They have been known to imitate the phone, the doorbell (to drive any other pets you may have crazy), words they hear on TV, anything. Watch out.

Oh and my SO had a pair of cockatiels when he was young that stripped his mother’s fern bare in three minutes. He left the room with them out of the cage and the next thing he heard was “MY FERN!”

Every. Last. Branch. Clipped.

A couple of notes:

All conures are noisy. There are some great conures (I’m partial to Half-Moon Conures), but they’re all pretty noisy.

Cockatoos and cockaties are dusty. They’re down feathers basically disolve and form a dust, which is then shaken off by the bird, taken dirt with it. But this dust can get all over your house and if you’re allergy prone, can bother you.

I am monitoring this closely. I have always wanted a bird. They are cheap here and I think I will do it in October/November, when I am back from vacation.

(Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary)

Mynah birds are members of the starling family. The magpie, another widely known “talking bird”, is a Corvid. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of their close relatives mimic as well.

Hearing birds talk is just the tops in my book. Does anyone know of a site that has sound files of birds talking?

Just as I’ve noticed it’s more often males that talk, I’ve also noticed with parakeets it’s the English budgies that talk. I’ve met a few of the smaller Australian budgies who talked though, just not as often. Their voices are really similar to what a cockatiel sounds like, burbling and muffled, with some chirps thrown in. I often need an owner translation for some of the longer phrases.

The best mimic I’ve heard was a Mynah, difficult to tell the difference between his and his owner’s voice if I wasn’t looking. I’ve noticed with other birds, they’ll change the pitch of their voice to mimic. One African Grey I knew would carry out conversations with himself in this way:

-deep pitch- Hello Grey.

-higher pitch- Hello.

-deep pitch- Where’s Joey?

-higher pitch- Joey. Joey. Joey. Help Joey!

Joey was a Goffin’s Cockatoo who would routinely escape from his cage and let the other birds out, including the above African (with the unimaginative name of Grey).

CaveMike and Paul in Saudi, I want to emphasize what Don Jaime says here: parrots are a massive responsibility.
There seems to be a tendency for people to consider parrots more along the lines as “fish” as pets, it’s just that they’re more animate and obviously don’t need to live in tanks. But there are NUMEROUS horror stories of parrots that are essentially treated like fish. Parrots are very social - in the wild they are flock animals. So you will become “the flock” to them, and they need attention and interaction. You do not just keep them in their cage and “observe” them.

If you do commit to the time and responsibility to spend time with them, they can be wonderful companions. They can be very loving and affectionate. And they are hysterical. Most non-parrot people are usually intrigued by the talking aspect. And has been pointed out, human voice is just one of the many things they’ll pick up (my Senegal does the microwave “done” beep to a T, and he also does a door creak that is almost creepy).

Since they’ve estimated that parrots (adults) have the “emotional level” of a 2 year old (but can attain the intelligence level of a 5 year old), the best description I’ve heard of parrots is of a “perpetual 2 year old.” That same energy, that same curiousity, and the same demanding traits (“I want it !” and the need for attention whenever possible).

Elenia28 and some of the others have given some good general descriptions of the various parrot types. But also keep in mind that there are very individual characteristics as well. And not all of them fit into the “mold” (for example, I appear to have had the only quiet conure in captivity :wink:
I currently have a Senegal. And though he’s a blast, he’s also quite headstrong. They have been nicknamed the “terriers” of the parrot world - by no means the biggest/strongest, but a lot of attitude. He’s also incredibly intelligent, which combined with the headstrongness can be difficult. But he can also be very affectionate as well.

Thanks everyone for your answers! I learned way more in this thread than I did during my pirate-parrot googling.

Also for the record, my OP was out of curiosity and not the precursor to adoption. My three kids in diapers keep me running enough already…

Also Paul in Saudi-- if you buy a bird in Saudi, I wouldn’t count on it moving back with you to the states, if that’s the plan. I think you have to produce proof that birds were born in the US and such-- it’s impossible to legally import most of them now.

Regarding the talking abilities of Mynah’s, there’s a couple sound clips on this site:


5th paragraph. About half the people I talk to don’t enunciate that well.

Yep, birds carry Newcastle Disease. It scares the heck out of the Chicken Industry.

Of course the birds my (ex) wife kept in Panama were the same story.

I think I actually read somewhere that Churchill’s parrot died earlier this year :(.