Why do birds such as parakeets/parrots imitate things owners say and learn phrases to ‘communicate’. It appears that they enjoy it and even are affectionate.

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Why do birds such as parakeets/parrots imitate things owners say and learn phrases to ‘communicate’. It appears that they enjoy it and even are affectionate.

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They are quite intelligent and social. In the wild, they live in flocks and are never alone. Some do more than mimic. Some use many words correctly. Check out the ALEX , Avian Language Experiment. They form very close, tender bonds with each other and their humans. They are affectionate and keenly watch their loved ones to communicate and sense emotional shifts. I was really upset about something the other day. I went and sat by the parrot cage. They rushed out and kind of laid about my neck kissing away my tears. They are also a lot of work. They can be crabby. They are needy and messy and loud and very unhappy alone.

Bird says something mimicking a human. Human gets excited and rewards bird with positive emotion and treats. Bird learns: mimicking human = getting good things back.

The same reason you say human words and are affectionate: communication with those around you

They’re very social and intelligent. I imagine they learn to mimic the same reason humans do, to communicate with others. Babies start out learning to talk because they repeat what people say to them.

Also humans make animal noises so it’s not crazy that social animals would make human noises

They’re too intelligent to be a bird. They constantly need to learn things or they get bored easily.

I read about a parrot where who knows basic words of things, then the owner showed him a cherry, a fruit he’s never seen/tasted before, he called it applemato. To him its a combination of apple and tomato in taste and look. So at least for this one parrot, he’s not just imitating, but have the intelligence to do some manipulation with our language.

In Australia, where there are wild parrots, the pet parrots that got lost goes back to teaching their wild parrots friends English words they picked up during time as a pet. So they can teach it as well!

i imagine they learn that it’s fun for them, when the environment reacts in a certain way to something they can do.

I’ve owned 4 different kinds of parrots. I’d have to tell you the African Grey had the strongest ability to have a conversation with real meaning not just mimicking. I would tell him go home and he’d fly to his cage close his door and lock himself in. In the morning he’d say “good morning! How are you? Can I come out?” If we said yes he’d unlock his cage and come right out. He always had a plate at the dinner table and he’d fly over when we had dinner eat on his plate and then fly back to his cage. You’ll truly be missed ❤️

Parrots echo each other naturally – essentially a never-ending game of Marco/Polo. To me it seems like a mechanic to keep tabs on what is going on in the flock. Parrots are also fairly affectionate – both enjoying grooming each other and snuggling at night.

There are some experiments demonstrating particular birds can be very clever at figuring out puzzles, but it is truly hard to tell if they understand… or are just parroting.