This section is especially difficult, because there are so many different ways to achieve success in teaching your Quaker to talk, but I will attempt to cover the easiest and most reliable basic methods that I am aware of. Encouraging a Quaker to talk requires patience, understanding, and lots of love. Generally, Quakers do not have to be “taught “ to talk, in the sense that it does not take a lot of extra effort on the owners part. Quakers are just naturally vocal and social, and seem to take to talking as ducks take to water!
They usually begin speaking at around the age of 9 months, although many have been known to start talking as early as 6 months of age, depending on the amount and quality of time that humans have spent with them It is difficult to determine if a Quaker’s talking ability is due to their innate ability or the time spent and techniques used in attempting to teach speech. A bird’s environment will have a direct influence on its talking ability. Owners who talk often to their
Quakers and include them in their daily lives and routines just naturally produce more talkative pets. The mischievous nature of a Quaker is often reflected in its speech. Many will quickly learn to say “Ouch! Or Bad bird!” just before giving their owner a little pinch with their beak, quickly followed by laughter. How can you become angry when a pinch is delivered in this manner?
Talking skills are not limited to those Quakers whose owners are naturally talkative or always use clear, expressive speech. Quakers will pick up words, phrases and songs they hear frequently, whether it be from humans, radios, televisions, or tapes.
They often whistle and imitate other birds and sounds with no effort at all on the owners part. And although Quakers speak clearly and are understood readily, their ability to perfectly mimic a human voice, including the tone and pitch, is somewhat lacking. For instance, I once owned an African grey who would mimic my voice telling my son he could go over to his friends.
When he yelled up the stairway, hey dad, can I go over — The bird would say, yes but be back in time for dinner. The funniest part was that my boy really thought it was me and replied back.
Different birds learn to talk at various rates. Some Quakers take one to three days to learn a new phrase or work, while others may take a year before they utter their first word. When Quakers first begin to talk, they learn the rhythm of the word. If you listen carefully you can pick out the syllables but not distinguish the words. They may even try to duplicate the tone or inflection of your voice. A Quaker’s first words may be garbled or mumbled, but with practice he will soon be speaking clearly.
Most talking is done early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Because your Quaker is more prone to talk then, try to conduct your talking lessons at these times. Use a great deal of inflections and excitement in your voice. This perks a birds interest in what you are saying, as proven by the number of undesirable words that birds pick up after hearing them only once! 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 learn to talk from informal training.
The benefit to this type of training is that the Quaker stays an integrated part of the family, and feels secure and loved, knowing he is welcome and appreciated. The more time spent talking to your Quaker, the more likely he will learn to talk. If you prefer to use a formal method, set aside a time every morning and evening to concentrate on teaching your Quaker to talk/ Repeat a word or phrase often while interacting with your bird. Do not totally restrict your speech to that one particular word. Say your bird’s name often when speaking to him. If you cannot spend enough time with your Quaker make a tape of your voice repeating the chosen word or phrase, and play it when you are gone.
Many Quakers learn to talk by listening to other birds talk. It can become sort of a contest to see who can talk the most! It is not unusual for a Quaker to pick up the entire vocabulary of another talking bird just by being in the same room. Be warned though that some birds will not talk at all if they feel intimidated by a much larger bird. Another way of teaching your Quaker to talk is through professional tapes and videos.
Tape recordings of other birds talking, women, or even children have proven successful in teaching birds to talk. Sometimes tapes work better if you record only one word at a time, and wait until your Quaker has mastered it before trying another. Being subjected to a routine phrase, such as “Hello” when the phone is answered after ringing, or the door is answered after someone knocks, is another way Quakers may learn to talk. They learn to respond by mimicking what they hear you say.
They have exceptional memories, and may very well spout off a word or phrase out of the blue that you haven’t used for a long time. Above all, practice patience. Many people believe that a Quaker must be talkative to make a good pet, and they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Far more important is how you interact with your Quaker, and what kind of home you provide. If a Quaker is happy and healthy, and given lots of love and attention, he will want to express his satisfaction. Talking will most likely come naturally with out much training or effort on your part.