It’s great to have a talking pet. You feel comforted when after a long day at work your greeted with – “Hello, darling, how was your day?”
Talking pet birds are the best options for children and individuals who live all by themselves. The ability to talk and mimic human actions and words render them highly entertaining. Several species of pet birds can be trained to talk and the parrot is the most popular in this list.
Whenever you hear a parrot speak, a question arises in your mind- how do parrots talk? Do they produce sounds in the same way as humans do? Or are they simple mimicking humans?
We will try to answer all these questions in this article.
Why do parrots talk?
Parrots talk to satisfy their communicative needs. Parrots brought up in the wild pick up various sounds such a chirping, screaming and cooing from its parents. It learns these sounds by mimicking the sounds produced by their parent and other members of its social circle (other parrot mates in the wild). Thus, it satisfies its communicative needs.
When a young parrot is brought home as a pet, the home environment becomes its social sphere and the members of the family its social circle. It grows up hearing human communications and in an attempt to communicate with its human owners it mimics the human sounds.
So, should we call it mimicking or conversing?
The truth is parrots do not converse. When they talk, they are in reality mimicking human sounds. They cannot hold or build a conversation. Neither do they understand the meaning of the words spoken. They only repeat the words spoken to them.
When a parrot says “Thank you” on being offered a cracker or “Hello” to a person walking into the house, we believe that parrots understand what they say. This is a misconception. Parrots are very intelligent birds. They are quick to learn how certain words are associated with certain actions or things. Thus, staying with humans parrots gradually learn that the word “baby” is linked to a “child” or “Yum and thank you” to food and crackers or that calling the “owner’s name” attracts attention.
It is observed that parrots not only imitate human talks but also other sounds such as the door bell or the telephone ring.
How do parrots produce these sounds?
Parrots do not have vocal cords. But, there is another structure in their throat that produces these human like sounds. It is called the Syrinx. The Syrinx is located at the far end of the trachea and contains the medial tympaniform. This controls the air flow in the trachea. A parrot whistles. The bending movements of the trachea and Syrinx alter the sounds as it passes through it producing human sounds. Selected parrot species also use their tongue in the articulation of sounds.
Do all parrots talk?
No. All species of parrots do not talk. Selected species of parrots are more inclined to talking than others. The African Grey Parrot is highly regarded for its human like vocalizations. The vocalizations of the African Grey Parrot resemble human sounds so closely that you often mistake it for another human in the room. Other species of parrots that can be trained to talk are the Quaker parrots and Amazon Parrots.