Parrot Care

Parrots as Pets: Intelligence and Talking

Intelligence
All parrots are intelligent and this means that you will need to provide enough distractions to keep them occupied. This means spending time with your pet, especially if you are keeping a single bird, after all these are naturally sociable animals that would live and travel with a flock in the wild. Some species of parrot are said to have the equivalent intelligence of a human toddler, and you know how much attention they need!


In addition to spending time with them you will need to provide the right environment: a cage or aviary of an adequate size, opportunities to fly outside the cage, and toys to play with. These toys will need to be rotated regularly or your pet will soon become bored.

A selection of parrot toys

Photo: A selection of parrot toys

If the needs of this intelligent bird are not met it leads to behavioral problems, and physical manifestation such as feather-plucking. If you let your parrot get to this reduced mental state it is very challenging to nurture them once more into a happy bird.

One contentious issue is that parrots have a small cerebral cortex yet this is the area of the brain that it is established that humans use to think, however, it is contended that birds use a different part of their brain for intelligence – the so-called medio-rostral neostriatum. Whatever the case may be you will note that parrot are indeed intelligent. This intelligence does not always translate into excellent mimicry as many other factors come in to play as you will read in the following section.

Mimic Skills
Parrots talking are entertaining and delightful, but never buy a parrot because you want a talking bird since even the most naturally talented mimics sometimes don’t say a word. Whilst you can select a species such as the African Grey (which are the best mimics), it is still down to the individual bird as to the level of mimicry achieved. Other species with good talking ability are the Eclectus parrot and the budgerigar.

Below is the ranking of the talking ability of 60 species, but remember that this is indicative only and each parrot is an individual.

Species Mimicry (A=excellent)
Budgie A
Red Lored Amazon A
Double Yellow Headed Amazon A
African Grey A
Blue Fronted Amazon A
Yellow Naped Amazon A
Blue Crown Conure A
Yellow Collared Mini Macaw A
Derbyan Parakeet A
Blue and Gold Macaw A
Catalina Macaw A
Green Winged Macaw A
Harlequin Macaw A
Scarlet Macaw A
Lineolated Parakeet B
Red Bellied Parrot B
Senegal Parrot B
Hahn’s Mini Macaw B
Lilac Crowned Amazon B
White Fronted Amazon B
Plum Headed Parakeet B
Quaker Parrot B
Cape Parrot B
Uncape Parrot B
Noble Mini Macaw B
Eclectus Parrot B
Illeger’s Mini Macaw B
Severe Mini Macaw B
Alexandrine Parakeet B
Military Macaw B
Hyacinth Macaw B
Green Rumped Parrotlet C
Pacific Parrotlet C
Mexican Parrotlet C
Orange Fronted Conure C
Meyer’s Parrot C
White Capped Pionus C
Half Moon Conure C
Green Cheeked Conure C
Green Naped Lorikeet C
Blue Streaked Lorikeet C
Bronze Winged Pionus C
Mustached Parakeet C
Black Capped Lorikeet C
Chattering Lorikeet C
Hawk Headed Parrot C
Cockatiels C
Nanday Conure C
Cockatoo C
Jardine’s Parrot C
Lovebird D
Bourke’s Parakeet D
Caique D
Dusky Headed Pionus D
Dusky Conure D
Gold Cap Conure D
Jenday Conure D
Sun Conure D
Blue Headed Pionus D
Maximilian Pionus D

Related articles:

Parrots as Pets (Part One).

Parrots as Pets (Part Three).


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