Can Cockatoos Talk? {How To Encourage it}

There’s something truly special about having a cockatoo in your life. Their cheeky antics, combined with their surprising vocal skills, can turn any ordinary day into a delightful adventure. Can cockatoos talk?

I’ve often found myself both laughing at a new word they’ve picked up and marveling at the range of sounds they can produce.

In this article, I’ll share insights into the vocal world of cockatoos, answering questions that many of you have sent my way.

Can Cockatoos Talk?

Yes. While they might not have the extensive vocabulary of some other parrots, their attempts at talking are always filled with personality and charm.

I recall the first time our cockatoo mimicked Niklas’ morning greeting. We were both in stitches! Cockatoos, with their sharp minds and playful nature, can indeed pick up words and sounds.

  • Mimicry Over Conversation: Cockatoos are more about mimicking sounds rather than having a chat. So, while you might hear familiar phrases, it’s more about play for them.
  • Repetition is Key: The more they hear a word or sound, the more likely they are to mimic it. Jesper’s cockatoo once picked up the theme tune of his favorite show after hearing it repeatedly!
  • Emotion Over Words: While their vocabulary might be limited, they express a lot through tone. It’s not just about the words, but how they “say” it. Our cockatoo has a special chirp just for when it’s treat time!

How Can I Encourage My Cockatoo to Talk More?

One evening, after a delightful chat with Niklas about our day, our cockatoo surprised us by mimicking our laughter.

It got me thinking about how we could encourage it to “talk” more. Cockatoos, being the curious birds they are, can be motivated to mimic sounds with a bit of encouragement.

Repetition: Just like how Jesper would repeat stories until I remembered them, repeating words or phrases to your cockatoo can help them pick it up.
Reward System: Every time our cockatoo mimics a word correctly, we reward it with a treat. Positive reinforcement works wonders!
Interactive Toys: There are toys available that play recorded messages. They can be a fun way to engage your cockatoo and encourage speech.

Why Does My Cockatoo Whistle More Than Talk?

I’ve always found it amusing how our cockatoo seems to prefer whistling over talking.

One sunny afternoon, as Jesper played a tune on his flute, our cockatoo joined in with its own rendition! It made me wonder why it seemed more inclined to whistle.

  • Natural Instinct: In the wild, cockatoos use whistles to communicate, especially over long distances. It’s instinctual.
  • Easier to Mimic: Whistling might be simpler for them to replicate than complex human speech patterns.
  • Attention Seeking: Our cockatoo has this particular whistle it does whenever it wants some cuddle time. They quickly learn what sounds get them the most attention!

Do Female and Male Cockatoos Talk Differently?

No. Niklas and I once had a debate about whether our male cockatoo talked differently than the female one we saw at Jesper’s place. It’s intriguing to see if there’s a difference in their vocal abilities based on gender.

  • Individual Differences: More than gender, individual personality plays a significant role in a cockatoo’s talking ability.
  • Tonal Variations: While both genders can mimic sounds, there might be slight tonal differences in their “speech.”
  • Learning Environment: The environment and the sounds they’re exposed to play a crucial role. Jesper’s female cockatoo, for instance, has picked up more tunes, probably because of his love for music!
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How Do You Train a Cockatoo?

Training sessions with our cockatoo are always a mix of laughter and surprises. Niklas often says it’s like teaching a toddler – patience is key!

Cockatoos are intelligent and curious, making them receptive to training, but they also have their cheeky moments.

  1. Positive Reinforcement: Always reward good behavior. Our cockatoo loves a particular treat, and we use it as a reward during training sessions.
  2. Consistency: Just like Jesper’s routine with his morning coffee, training should be consistent. Regular short sessions are more effective than infrequent long ones.
  3. Start Simple: Begin with basic commands like “step up” or “stay.” Over time, as trust builds, you can introduce more complex tricks.

What Sounds Do Cockatoos Most Commonly Mimic?

One lazy Sunday, Niklas and I were enjoying a quiet morning when our cockatoo suddenly blurted out the ringtone of my phone!

It got us wondering about the sounds these birds commonly mimic. Cockatoos, with their keen sense of hearing, often surprise us with the variety of sounds they pick up.

  • Household Noises: From doorbells to microwave beeps, our cockatoo seems to have a repertoire of everyday household sounds.
  • Music: Jesper once played a catchy tune on his guitar, and by evening, our cockatoo was humming along!
  • Other Animals: It’s amusing when our cockatoo tries to “chat” with the neighbor’s dog by mimicking its bark.

Can Cockatoos Understand What They’re Saying?

After a heartfelt conversation with Niklas about our upcoming vacation, our cockatoo chirped in with a timely “Bye-bye!” It made us ponder if it truly understood the context or was just mimicking.

  1. Mimicry Over Understanding: While they can replicate sounds and phrases, understanding the context like humans do is unlikely.
  2. Emotional Cues: They might not grasp the meaning, but they’re excellent at picking up emotional tones. A happy chirp or a stern “No” can elicit different reactions.
  3. Consistent Responses: Over time, with repetition, they can associate words with actions. For instance, saying “treat” always gets our cockatoo excited, anticipating a snack.

Are Cockatoos Good Pets for Families?

When my brother Jesper brought his kids over for the first time, our cockatoo was the star of the show! Cockatoos, with their playful nature and affectionate demeanor, can be wonderful family pets. However, they do require attention and understanding.

  • Attention Seekers: Cockatoos thrive on interaction. They love being part of family activities and can get quite attached.
  • Loud at Times: They can be vocal, especially when they want attention. It’s their way of joining in the family chatter!
  • Supervised Interaction: While they’re generally friendly, it’s essential to supervise interactions with young kids. Our cockatoo has a gentle nibble it reserves just for Niklas when he’s snacking on its favorite fruit!

How Can I Teach My Cockatoo New Words or Phrases?

Inspired by Jesper’s success in teaching his cockatoo a new phrase for a birthday party, I embarked on a mission to expand our bird’s vocabulary. Teaching them new words can be a delightful bonding experience.

  1. One Word at a Time: Start simple. Repeating one word consistently helps them pick it up faster.
  2. Visual Aids: Showing an object while saying its name can create an association. Our cockatoo learned “apple” faster when he saw me holding one.
  3. Celebrate Small Wins: Every time our cockatoo gets a word right, we celebrate with lots of praise and the occasional treat. Positive reinforcement is key!

Why Does My Cockatoo Make Clicking Sounds?

One evening, as Niklas and I were watching a movie, our cockatoo started making these soft clicking sounds. It was both curious and endearing. Over time, we’ve come to realize that these sounds are just another facet of their diverse vocal range.

  • Communication: Just as we humans have different tones and sounds for various emotions, cockatoos use clicking as a form of communication, possibly signaling contentment.
  • Interaction: Sometimes, when Jesper visits with his kids, our cockatoo clicks in response to their giggles. It’s like its own way of joining the fun!
  • Mimicry: Cockatoos are notorious mimics. If they hear a sound often enough, like the click of a camera, they might just add it to their repertoire.

Do Cockatoos Have a Favorite Word or Sound?

Niklas often jokes that our cockatoo’s favorite word must be “Hello!” given how often it greets us with it. But do these birds have a preference when it comes to sounds or words?

  1. Familiar Sounds: Often, cockatoos will favor sounds or words they hear regularly. Our morning ritual of saying “Good Morning” has certainly rubbed off on our feathery friend.
  2. Positive Association: Words or sounds linked to positive experiences, like “treat” or the sound of a treat bag rustling, can become favorites.
  3. Emotional Resonance: Just as Jesper’s lullabies soothe his kids, certain tones or tunes might resonate more with cockatoos, making them more likely to mimic or respond to them.

Why Is My Cockatoo So Vocal in the Morning?

Every morning, like clockwork, our cockatoo heralds the dawn with a series of chirps, whistles, and sometimes words. It’s like its own feathery alarm clock, much to Niklas’ amusement (and sometimes mild annoyance).

  1. Natural Instinct: In the wild, dawn and dusk are prime times for birds to communicate, be it to signal the start of a day or to regroup.
  2. Seeking Attention: After a night of rest, your cockatoo might be eager for interaction and play. What better way to get your attention than a morning serenade?
  3. Routine Response: Birds, like us, thrive on routine. If morning vocalizations become a habit, reinforced by your responses, it becomes a part of their daily rhythm.


Diving into the sounds and songs of cockatoos has been a journey of discovery for me. Each chirp, whistle, and echoed word tells a story, revealing a bit more about these incredible birds.

Their vocalizations are not just sounds; they’re expressions of their personalities, emotions, and the bond we share with them.

So, the next time your cockatoo belts out a tune or tries a new word, take a moment to cherish the beautiful connection and the shared moments of joy.


Thank you for visiting for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.