Budgies do not come pre-programmed to talk. It takes time, patience and consistency on your part, and even then there is no guarantee of success. If your priority when choosing a budgie is getting a talking bird, think again. Talking is never guaranteed. Ask yourself this question: Does it matter if my budgie can’t talk? If the answer is yes, don’t buy a budgie.
If you want to be in with a chance of having a budgerigar that talks, you’ll need to work at it. But there are a couple of things you can do to give yourself a greater chance of success:
- Young birds learn to talk more readily, so choose one that has not yet had its first moult (i.e. six to 12 weeks old).
- Males are far better talkers than females (although some females can be taught).
- A budgie who is finger-trained (i.e. will perch on your finger without fear) and completely relaxed in your company will talk more readily than a less ‘tamed’ bird.
- Speak to your budgie from the word go. Decide which word or phrase you want him to say, and repeat it often. Limit this first attempt to three words or less. Once he is finger-trained and able to leave his cage, he will enjoy perching on you, and this is an ideal time to teach him his first words. There are more details on this subject in the Budgie Talking section, below.
There is no guarantee of a talking budgie
You will notice when your budgie is paying attention. He will perch close to you, and show an interest in your mouth. His pupils may dilate in concentration. In the cage, a bird that is sitting and chattering quietly is listening too. Try out the words you want to teach him then - he will probably pause in his chatter and listen. The familiarity of the words will soon start to get through to him. Sometimes he will close his eyes in contentment as you patiently repeat “Hello Mango!”, or whatever phrase you’ve opted for.
Brace yourself for some gentle disappointment. Some birds, even ones that tick all the boxes of young, male and finger-trained, never master talking. Others produce something approximating to the sounds you’ve been teaching, but mumble them like someone repeating foreign words with no grasp of the language they come from.
Some birds, however, will pick up this first phrase and run with it, adding many more words as the months pass. You can’t reasonably expect your budgie to rival the Guinness World Record holders with vocabularies of hundreds of words, but even a few ‘hellos’ amongst your bird’s happy chatter is very satisfying.