Parrotlets Forum : TalkParrotlets banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I've got a 4-month old turquoise male who can currently say "pretty bird" and "come here" (and is always chattering away!) I know that birds' "talking" is just them mimicking noises they hear from us, but I was wondering if they possibly understand any of it based on the context that we use it in? For example, I say "come here" and Echo flies over to me, he (seems to) recognize that as something as a term that means he should come to me. When I am holding him, if I stop petting him, he'll repeatedly say "Come here!" and nibble on my fingers til I start petting him again. Is that just a coincidence, or does anyone know if they actually do understand a bit of what they're saying in context? Thanks for any input!

Bird Hand Leg Beak Parrot
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,096 Posts
They DEFINITELY can understand that sounds have meanings, even if they never mimic human speech themselves. My favorite moment that proves this was actually with my cockatiel, who never mimicked human speech. One day, I happened to ask her "do you want popcorn?" You would have thought a bomb had exploded with the level of reaction I got from a previously calm and sleepy bird. YES, she DID want popcorn, so give it NOW.
Parrot sounds naturally have meanings, and they learn that our sounds also have meanings, and they are capable of figuring out those meanings and using them in context. Alex the African Grey was a great example - researchers worked with him not to figure out how many words a parrot can mimic, but to translate parrot into English. He was very expressive, and used his English vocabulary for everything from asking for his grapes for breakfast to making it clear that he disliked the new bird.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,893 Posts
Do they understand human words with all their complexity. No. Do they understand certain sounds and relate them to objects and actions. Very much yes. Studies have shown that parrotlet's acquire a "bird" name while still a fledgling. Their name is unique to them and they use it to refer to themselves and the flock. I know that Jules, my blue parrotlet hen, has named me and my wife. She uses the different chirp depending which one of us she is looking for. She also has different chirps for feed me, I need water, come here, where are you. She also knows certain human words like Jules, nite-nite, hot, no, come, go to cage, etc.
Parrotlet's are amazingly smart creatures for such small creatures.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Georgie’s Mom

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,152 Posts
:)Hello!
You have a good question and this question has been discussed all over the world. Birds and other animals do not reason the way we humans do, and most scientists say that the ability to reason is basically the only difference between the human animal and another species. Animals use instinct and we humans may get ' hunches' or a gut feeling about something, but we take it one step further, we reason out things.

I have a 7 years old p'lett named Bogie. I have had him since he was 9 weeks old. I am home all day with him and he is allowed to fly all over the house ( I made the house a safe house for him). He was 13 weeks old when he clearly said his first words. I asked him if he wanted to have some yum yum. ( It was a piece of cheese). He flew down to the table where my hand was located and said, " Yum yum. Yum yum." My wife and I were surprised! We had only said the words yum yum a few times.
This quick learning bird made me take advantage of his alertness.
Bogie started mimicking many words on his own. Right now, he speaks 56 words and phrases. He speaks clearly and his voice is low, like mine. The only time he sounds like my wife is when he imitates her unusual laugh. He sounds just like her!

Right now, Bogie uses about 25 to 30 of his words on a regular basis. We have tried to record him, but he freezes when we get the recorder out. We did succeed one time, but you could not hear it clearly. Every morning when he gets up, he says, " Where's the Kitty? Where's the Kitty? " He used to watch our neighbor's cats playing on the screened in porch ( through the window).

He picks up words all by himself and teaches himself to say them. One day, my son came to visit me and he brought a friend. When they came in through the front doorway, they stopped while I shook my son's friend hand.
Bogie was in his cage and wanted to see the new friend. As we stood at the doorway, we were talking, then all of a sudden, Bogie says, " Come. Come! "over and over. My son said, " What do you want, Bogie? " and Bogie said, " Come Come!", so they went over to him. The new friend said that this was a smart bird. I said, " He has never said those words before today." I was surprised!

I knew where he got the new words. Earlier that day, we were watching Animal Planet on TV and a lady had to bring her horses in from the field, so she said to the horses, "Come. Come.! " and the horses came to her. Bogie heard this and repeated it for the new friend! Now, he says it every time he wants out of his cage. He used to say, " Let me out. Let me out! "

My question is," How did he know to say, " Come. Come" when the new friend came over? " Did he reason it out? Hmmmm. Maybe parrotlets are more human than we thought.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,666 Posts
I think humans learn very similar, we associate an action with the words or sounds (words) with particular items. Parrots and other animals obviously lack the ability to learn a complex language, but they are certainly smart enough to associate the sounds "Popcorn" with "Food I like!!" Melody also has a special sound for each of us. It is the special sound we each make when we "talk" to her.
Jasper I don't think understands much he says, but he mimics pretty much every whistle and sound we make. I know it's his way of "talking" to us.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,685 Posts
It is clear that birds can understand simply words and there intention, as well as gestures. Sky, for example, when I say "come come" will fly to me most of the time, and certainly knows what I mean. Likewise, when she's in her cage, if I say "come see me," she scurries down hops on the perch right in front of the door, waiting for my hand. Izzy will go onto the inside of the door of her cage, waiting for me to swing it open when I day "come see me." I've had parrots that could do many different things from verbal commands, or gestures, and here and there a bit more sophisticated actions. I can't say exactly how much birds understand, or to what extend, but they certainly do understand some things, and who knows, perhaps more than we might imagine. As research continues it will be interesting to see what's discovered; already we are beginning to understand that animals have more complex communications than we previously thought, and I suspect that trend will continue.

I once saw a documentary of an African Grey that displayed great intelligence, and amazing understanding. That bird was visited by Jane Goodall (sp?) and upon first seeing her in person he greeted her with the chimpanzee greeting she does at the beginning of talks on her videos that the bird had watched with his owner! So, who knows exactly what some of our feathered friends understand?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,519 Posts
My first bird Charlie would respond appropriately if I asked him questions. If I asked him if some thing was good , he would say" um, yes, it's good thank you". I never taught him the "thank you".
One day I came in with food and stood by his cage. He gave me the ol'' stink eye, down at my food, back up at me several times and finally said"well, is it good?". So you tell me, do they know what they are saying?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
110 Posts
So, I've got a 4-month old turquoise male who can currently say "pretty bird" and "come here" (and is always chattering away!) I know that birds' "talking" is just them mimicking noises they hear from us, but I was wondering if they possibly understand any of it based on the context that we use it in? For example, I say "come here" and Echo flies over to me, he (seems to) recognize that as something as a term that means he should come to me. When I am holding him, if I stop petting him, he'll repeatedly say "Come here!" and nibble on my fingers til I start petting him again. Is that just a coincidence, or does anyone know if they actually do understand a bit of what they're saying in context? Thanks for any input!

View attachment 32458
They definitely understand context! I taught mine in context (repeated words in context only). He asked for “tickle tickle” and bows his head, says hungry and thirsty to ask for food/water, says “keees. (Then smootch)” several times before bed and cuddle time. If I drop something, he tries to say “oh-oh!” And will then give a scratchy little “pick it up”. His contact call also changed from a peep-peep peep-peep peeeeeep to sounding like the name I gave him…Georgie. They are soooo intelligent!
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top