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How To Teach Your Pet Myna Bird To Talk

myna bird talking teaching tips

Many birds can be trained to speak, and some will even begin doing so on their own as they hear their owners speak. Think of training a bird to speak as a fun, bonding adventure with your pet. Stay positive, and do not stress out the animal. 

Also, keep in mind that certain birds may be easier to train than others, like mynah birds, of which the Greater Indian Hill Myna is the best ( gracula religiosa intermedia). Myna Birds have the clearest diction of any breed and the ability to have an incredibly large vocabulary. 

With a little patience and a lot of quality time spent, a pet myna bird can learn to mimic its owner. In fact, they are the only bird that can mimic human speech and can learn over 100 words.

The easiest way to begin training a pet myna bird to talk is to start right at the beginning of your relationship. Make the training part of the pet-owner bonding experience, and it will be something the animal will look forward to each day.

If you want to find out why scientists think myna birds are the best talkers, then read this article too:

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Start simple when training a pet bird to talk

  1. If the pet appears uninterested in a speech at first, try whistling instead and see if the bird will mimic the sounds. 
  2. Spend only a few minutes each day working on the mimicry so as not to stress the animal or make it seem like a negative thing. 
  3. After the pet seems comfortable with whistling, begin training the bird to talk.

Set up a training plan

It’s a good idea to have a plan of what words and actions go together before you start and incorporate them into your bird’s daily routine. 

Repetition is the key to getting a bird to talk

Try to relate each word or phrase to a particular activity as well, so the bird knows what you want it to say or do. For instance, when you want the bird to perch on your finger, press your finger up against the bird’s belly just above the feet and repeat the phrase, “Up, up,” a few times. Remember to use a happy, positive tone of voice and never yell at the bird. Eventually, the bird will relate, “Up, up,” to spending time with you, their owner. 

Words and actions for daily routine for first three months

Here’s an example of how you may incorporate words and activities together to begin training. Of course you can tailor this to your requirements as you see fit.  When they’re talking and engaged you can then move on to other words and phrases. Phrases of 5-6 syllables work best.  Mynah birds respond particularly well to stimulus control.


Word
Associated action
HelloWhen you walk into the room at any time of day
I’m [ their name]Add this to the ‘hello’ to expand the phrase
Good morningGreeting in the morning before you give them breakfast
Breakfast timeJust before you put their food bowl in
Yes pleaseWhen you’ve put the bowl in
Thank youWhen you’ve closed the cage
PeekabooPeer round the door to their room ( don’t frighten them though – say the word first outside the room)
DinnertimeJust before you put their food bowl in
Ooh yummy!When you’ve put the bowl in
Thanks [your name]When you’ve closed the cage
BathtimeJust before you put the water bowl in
DuckyThis is a funny one, as if you’re bird is asking for a rubber duck for their bath
Bye-byeBefore you leave the room
Bye-bye [your name]Extension of 14 when they have learnt bye-by
Night nightWhen you leave to go to bed yourself or cover them up
Words to teach your myna bird

Offering rewards when your bird speaks

If the bird repeats the word, a fruit treat is a good reward. Keep the treats hidden until the bird is successful. The bird will have no idea why you are not feeding them those treats if they see them beforehand. But when the treat is delivered right after a successful training session, the bird can then relate the treats to talking. This is called positive reinforcement.

Be consistent with your actions, words and how you say them

When you walk into the room, try saying “hello” each time you do so. Your bird will begin to associate this as your greeting and may then mimic the phrase.  

Be consistent with your words and actions so your bird does not get confused.  If you decide to say, “Bathtime,” every time you offer your bird a fresh bowl of water, be careful not to say “bathtime,” when doing other tasks, like cleaning their cage as the bird will be waiting for his water. If the bird does not get the expected response, they may become agitated or disinterested.

Give your bird a variety of sounds to produce, you not only make sure they’re entertained, you stimulate their brain’s natural tendency to learn with novelty. Studies have shown that mynah birds learn to talk in much the same way human babies learn to talk, through experimental babble and vocal learning. 

The woman whose parakeet Puck was the most talking pet bird in the “Guinness Book of Records” in 1995 actually recorded her parakeet’s chatter and slowed it down to hear the words it said.

Take care with pronunciation

Pronounce any word you want to teach a bird with extreme care and enunciate clearly. Since your mynah bird has no lips they only have their articulate tongue to help, they can have trouble saying consonants “p,” “b” and “m,” as well as the “t” and “th.” Avoid words with lots of ‘sss’ and ‘shh’ sounds as they can alarm your bird because they may associate them with predators. 

Discouraging and extinguishing bad words

Once a pet bird learns to speak, the floodgates have been opened. Your bird may start to pick up new phrases on its own, and some of those phrases may not be desirable. 

If your bird begins repeating cuss words or insults that may have been heard on the TV set or from someone in the house this can be hard to undo, but not impossible.

The simplest way to discourage and try and extinguish this behaviour is to walk away from the bird when the unwanted phrase is spoken. Leave the room if you can. Birds crave human attention. 

It is important also that you do not react AT ALL to what they are saying – any snigger, smile, or response from you will be seen as a reinforcement of the behaviour by your bird. Quite the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Removing all reinforcement, including your attention is required to diminish the use of the undesirable words.

Once they figure out that they have lost your attention when they say a certain thing, they will eventually stop saying it. Once you leave the room, wait a few minutes, and try again. Speak a word you want the bird to repeat and keep interacting until you hear the “bad” phrase again. Then, leave and repeat the process.

When training a bird to talk, you will need lots of patience. Some birds learn faster than others, and the one thing you want to avoid is upsetting the animal. Take things slowly, and over time, progress can be made. Keep the sessions short, positive and upbeat, and enjoy the time spent with your pet.

How do I choose a bird that is going to talk?

The simple answer is to buy one that is already talking. There is no guarantee that any bird you buy will become a great talker. With mynah birds, the younger you can buy one the better as after 12 months their ability to learn new words diminishes almost completely. 

We hand rear and teach our Greater Indian Hill Mynahs to talk from about 10 days old. If your on the reservation list we can even begin to teach them specific words and phrases, just for you. Then when you get them home you can continue with the training in your own environment.

At what age do Mynah birds talk?

Studies have shown that mynah birds learn to talk within the first 12 months of their life, so the younger you have one the better. As our birds and bred and hand reared in the UK they are in human company from about 10 days old, therefore they are given the best advantage to learn.

Can I use a recording to teach my bird to talk?

In a study in Thailand on mynah birds it was shown that there was a small difference in a mynah bird learning to talk from a human, than a recording. The increase in talking from human interaction was attributed to the greater interactivity from the keeper and the bird and the ability to reinforce the learning when the bird mimicked correctly. 

Bear in mind that if you use a recording ( there are some youtube videos with basic words and phrases you can use) that you need to give your bird regular breaks. You can’t just put it on loop and walk away or they will give up trying to talk all together. But recordings are useful for repetition in short bursts to help your bird practice as a supplemental training aid. Try using the ‘good morning’ loop after breakfast for half an hour.

Other birds that are great at talking

  • African Greys: great speech proficiency, greater cognitive ability than other birds
  • Amazons: great speech proficiency, greater cognitive ability than other birds
  • Budgies, Parakeets: difficult to train
  • Cockatiels: difficult to train
  • Cockatoos: difficult to train, not understood easily
  • Indian Ringneck Parakeets: intelligent, but love to scream and can be destructive
  • Quaker Parrots: great speech proficiency, greater cognitive ability than other birds
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