"How Well Do Quakers Talk?"
by Theresa Jordan
(from "The Quaker's Nest" Issue III, 1997)
Looking for a playful, fun-loving, smaller-size parrot with the talking aptitude of an African Grey? You may have found it in a Quaker Parakeet!
While quaker parakeets do not have the ability of the African Grey to mimic the tone or quality of the human voice, their speech is still quite clear and readily understood. And aside from African Greys, Quakers are the only birds that I would 99.9% guarantee will learn to speak.
(Bird Talk Magazine placed them on their list of "the top 10 talkers").
Quakers will normally being talking at approximately 6-9 months of age; although some begin even earlier; and their "practicing" may begin even as early as 2-3 months of age. Encouraging a Quaker to speak requires love, understanding, and most of all, patience. Quaker owners sometimes become frustrated when their Quaker does not being talking by a certain age; but just like children, different birds learn to talk at different rates of speed; and if nothing else, any Quaker owner will tell you that Quakers are definitely individual birds each with their own personalities, quirks, and preferences!
Quakers, like most birds, will likely pick up those words he hears that bear the following characteristics:
|words spoken with emphasis
|word spoken more loudly than normal
|words spoken directly to him/her and repeated frequently
For this very reason it appears that "curse" words are favorites for many talking birds to repeat --- they are usually said loudly and with great emphasis. The tone, pitch, and loudness of these words are also usually abnormal, which increases the probability of piquing a bird's interest.
When Quakers first begin practicing their speech, they learn the rhythm of a word. You will most likely be able to recognize their practicing by hearing them mumbling to themselves, repeating the same sounds over and over again. If you listen carefully you may be able to pick out syllables but not distinguish the actual words. A Quaker's first words may be garbled or mumbled, but with practice he will soon be speaking clearly.
Most talking/practicing is done early in the morning and late in the afternoon. (Remember, I said most!) Because your Quaker is more prone to talk at these times, try to conduct any speech lessons during these times. Use a great deal of inflection, excitement, and feeling in your words. This piques a bird's interest in what you are saying and increases his desire to communicate verbally with you. I believe the amount of feeling and emphasis that is put into these expressions are what causes birds to repeat them so readily.
Most Quakers will learn to talk readily from informal training, and a bird's environment will have a direct influence on it's speech. Owners who talk often to their Quakers and include them in their daily lives and routines just naturally produce more talkative pets. The benefit to this type of speech training is that the Quaker stays an integral part of the family, and feels secure and loved knowing he is welcome and appreciated.
As a perfect example, Kathleen Carr has not only taught her Quakers to speak, but to sing duets, as well!
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