Can You Communicate with Birds?

May 03, 2024

A bird’s ability to mimic diverse sounds evolved from their naturally social nature. In the wild, birds keep themselves mentally stimulated by interacting with other birds and their surroundings. 

Captive birds lack the stimulation and social interaction found in their natural habitats. They interact with us through mimicry because of their need for mental stimulation and social interaction. Some even copy the barking dogs or doorbells nearby.

Flocks and bonded pairs communicate constantly about factors that may affect their safety or well-being. Some species even copy larger, more aggressive birds to appear less appealing to predators. Parrots and other birds mimic human speech for mental stimulation and social bonding.

Birds may chatter when happy, sing when content, or scream when overexcited. Growling, a sound commonly made by cockatiels and African grey parrots, indicates an aggressive state.

Body language

Body language is another aspect of how your birds interact with you. Focusing on one action only tells part of the story. For instance, a bird with tiny pupils and a wagging tail is excited.

Birds combine physical movements with vocalizations to communicate their emotional states. They combine eye movement, feather fluffing or flattening, head movements, beak grinding or clicking, and tail wagging to express a wide range of emotional states.

For instance, a bird who is bobbing up and down while chattering is excited and curious. If another bird of the same species is in the enclosure, this behavior could also be related to courtship. Context is everything.

Consider all of your feathered friend’s signals when trying to understand them.

Training for birds is a well-documented, straightforward process, but modern technology makes it even simpler.

Most talking bird species begin mimicking around one year old; however, this can vary. Through consistent training and repetition, you can build your bird’s vocabulary over time. They must hear the same phrase many times before they can repeat it.

While talking bird species can mimic sounds, it’s important to remember they cannot hold a conversation in the way humans do. They learn to associate words with actions through repetition, but cannot create new responses independently.

Let’s say you’ve only trained your bird to say “Hi” and “Bye.” If you ask, “How are you?” your bird would be unable to respond with anything other than “Hi” or “Bye.”

Many bird owners teach their birds to use language to ask for treats, and to communicate in more specific ways as well. For instance, including phrases like “feeling sick” or “love you” can provide owners with useful information or give them a sense of connection with their birds. Birds can also learn their names and associate words with objects. Using mimicry to stimulate their brains can improve their mental and physical health. 

To build a meaningful bond with your pet, you’ll need to spend time reinforcing their vocabulary and speech daily. Voice recording devices can aid in this process, but they aren’t a replacement for face-to-face connection.

The best way to develop your bird’s communication potential is to spend time working with them. They’re social animals and thrive on interacting with you. Regular mental stimulation gives birds a sense of social connection and makes them easier to work with.

Enrich Your Life and Your Bird’s

With the right training program, birds can learn to use language to share their needs and desires. Unlock your bird’s potential and bond with them through regular training sessions. Investing time and attention in your companion can make all the difference in their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

Learning how animals communicate is just part of the robust Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. Our students have the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge that can deepen the connection between companion animals and their people.

Want to build the skills to provide quality care for animals? Apply to our DVM program or request more information today!

CTA Banner image

Interested in learning more about a degree in veterinary medicine at Ross Vet?