Many bird owners, however, prefer to teach their birds themselves, and even more like to get their birds when they are young babies -- ruling out the possibility of hearing them speak before they are purchased.
If you fall into one of those categories, then the best thing for you to do is research several different bird species that have the ability to talk, as well as taking time to brush up on training techniques that will help you bond with your new pet and make it easier to optimize the chance that he or she will speak.
As far as talking birds go, there are a few key species that are noted for exceptional speaking abilities. Include the following types of birds in your research if you want the best chance at getting a little feathered chatterbox:
- African Greys: These are perhaps the most celebrated of talking parrots, known for their extensive vocabularies and cognitive skills.
- Quaker Parrots: These lively medium sized parrots can be impressive little talkers, and tend to learn environmental sounds as well as words and short phrases.
- Indian Ringneck Parakeets: Ringnecks are a wonderful choice for people who want a talking bird. Their beautiful colors and medium size make them attractive pets, aside from their crystal clear speaking abilities.
- Budgies: Although they may take a little more effort on the training end, many budgies become surprisingly proficient talkers.
- Cockatiels: These little charmers from down under are known for their whistling and excellent imitations of environmental sounds -- but with love and attention are able to build quite impressive vocabularies.
- Amazons: Several species of Amazon have reputations for outstanding talking ability, and make wonderful pets for those that commit to them.
Whatever species you decide on, make sure that it's a bird that will be compatible with your lifestyle. If you do your homework and choose the right type of bird for you, you are sure to fall head over heels for your new friend, regardless of whether or not he or she learns to speak. Take it from this proud parrot parent -- a few sweet snuggles and smooches from your favorite feathered friend are worth more than a million words any day.
Photos of Titon the African Grey and Peaches the Indian Ringneck Parakeet 2006 Courtesy of Patricia Lowery and Marvette Hillis. Photo of Sinbad that Quaker Parrot (c) 2006 Alyson Burgess licensed to About.com, Inc.