Do Cockatiels Talk

As a bird enthusiast for half a decade now, I have had the chance to closely understand the personalities and capabilities of quite a few feathered friends. Cockatiels are one of those breeds. In this article, I will guide you through the vocalization capabilities of Cockatiels. 

Do cockatiels talk? Cockatiels can talk, but they have limitations. While most other parrot species, like the African Greys, have a wide vocabulary range, cockatiels can “talk” much less. Rather than “talking,” they try to imitate the sounds. Additionally, some other factors can also contribute to their limitation. Still, teaching them to “talk” or imitate will not be that hard. 

Moving forward, I will be discussing these factors and how to tackle them. I will guide you through the best step-by-step process on how you can teach your cockatiel to talk. So, keep reading to know more!

How To Teach Cockatiel To Talk? 

As mild-natured and friendly birds, your Cockatiels will have the enthusiasm to learn and imitate you. They will try to copy what you say and how you say it. This will work even better if your cockatiel is tamed from an early age. Now, I suggest keeping treats during the training process to reward them. It can be your bird’s favorite fruits, veggies or seeds. 

Find a Good Place to Train

As advised earlier, if your cockatiel has a cagemate, it is best if you train your male away from the cage. You should also make sure to find a quiet place so your bird will not get distracted by unwanted sounds. 

Is Your Bird Comfortable?

Since you are going to teach them, it is best if the bird is in the most comfortable position, one that will have attention on you. For instance, you can have your cockatiel on your index finger facing you. This will help them keep their attention on you. Also, make sure your bird is not agitated or nervous. If they are, you may try offering it a treat or try again later when it is calm. 

Showcase Excitement

The upbeat in your voice will capture the excitement that your cockatiel will want to follow. 

It is a good idea to keep treats to give them as a prize even if they try to imitate your excitement.

The Words

Start small and repeat. You should repeat the same syllabled word in the same tone every time you interact with the bird. You may start with a simple “hi!”. Remember and focus on how you say it and express that same upbeat every time. You also need to take it slow. It means teaching one thing at a time. Once your bird gets a grasp of the word, you may ascend to two-syllable words like “hello!”. Later, you may even try small two or three-worded sentences. 

An Object

If you want to associate an object with a word you teach, you can hold it in front of your bird. Then, every time your bird touches that object, reward him. Slowly, start pronouncing the object’s name clearly to your bird every time they touch the object and then treat them. 

Positive Affirmation

You want to make this experience as positive as possible for your bird. The way to do that is to reward them with their favorite treat every time they do something you ask. You should also say words like “Good job!” to portray that you are happy because of their act. Your bird will start wanting to do that work more because of the rewards. Eventually, you can lower the treats once the training comes near an end. 

How Much Do Cockatiels Talk?

Your cockatiels will be able to learn from small words to short phrases. Keep it to one or two syllables and a maximum of two or three-worded sentences. Here are some examples of what you can teach:

  • Hi/Hello/Hey
  • Thank you
  • Bye/Goodbye
  • How are you?/I’m good
  • Where are you?
  • Love you
  • Hungry/Give Food
  • Name of Fruits (e.g apple, orange)
  • Good boy/girl
  • Happy/Sad

**You can teach a lot more than the list above. If you have specific terms or inside jokes in your family, you should let your feathered family member know too!

Factors That May Affect the Learning Process

how much do cockatiels talk


Generally, cockatiels can start speaking at around 8-10 months. It is best to start teaching them from the age of 3-4 months when they just start learning how to chirp. Now, you can of course teach a mature cockatiel to talk, but it is advised to start young because the smaller ones, like human babies in their learning stage, will have more inclination towards imitating your words. 


You will be surprised to know that gender matters if you want to teach your cockatiel to talk. It is the male cockatiels who can talk, instead of the females. The reason behind this is the males attempt to make different noises to attract the females when they mature. 


The environment and the condition in which the cockatiel lives heavily matter because it determines if the bird is happy or not. For instance, if they are kept in a relatively smaller cage or without toys, they may be anxious or bored and this will hamper their will to learn.


Now, of course, your birdie’s ability to talk will depend a lot on your effort and their own wish to follow you. Other factors like their overall physical and mental health may also determine their capability to talk. If your cockatiel is lethargic, has diarrhea, or has any kind of infection, it will affect your cockatiel’s speech or learning capabilities.


Cockatiels are good choices for an aviary as they like to group together even after pairing up. However, even if there is only one pair in a cage, the male can prefer to communicate with the cagemate instead of you. In other words, they may not be inclined to learn your language over their own. Therefore, it is advised to train them and keep them separately too, if possible, till they finish their learning. 

Final Words

Cockatiels may imitate a lot with your patience, even though they may not have the extensive language abilities of African Greys. Despite the fact that only one gender, male, is defined for their speech, the phrases may not be as clear as those of other parrot species. Nonetheless, cockatiels can pick up the skill of talking from an early age with the right training methods and constant effort from their owners. Generally, cockatiels are excellent pets for anybody looking for a calm bird with the additional skill of mimicking sounds and speech.


Can female cockatiels talk?

Ans: No, only male cockatiels can talk. “Talking” is one of their ways of making different sounds to attract females.

 Can my adult cockatiel learn to talk?

Ans: It is not impossible to teach an adult cockatiel to talk if you have a good bond with it. However, it may be relatively harder than teaching a young cockatiel.

Do cockatiels recognize their owner’s voice?

Ans: Yes, if you have tamed the bird from an early age, it increases the chance of your friend understanding your voice more. 

When is it best to start the speech training?

Ans: Start small but as early as 3-4 months is the ideal time to start. Your cockatiel may learn the word at 8 months.

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