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Senegals and speech vs. imitation

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Senegals and speech vs. imitation

Postby Strawfrawg » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:50 am

I am about to bring my new Senegal baby home, and I'm debating whether or not I'm going to teach him to talk. I know they aren't great talkers and I don't really care about imitation...I figure if he picks stuff up on his own that's fine, but I'd rather spend training time on other behaviors and tricks. But I would like to teach language if he will be able to really use it for communication.

My boyfriend's Sennie is exceptionally bright and talkative, and she uses language the way we do...to say something she wants to convey. For example, she asks for a specific toy or a treat if she wants it, or asks to go "nite-nite" if she wants to be put in her cage for a nap. I am told this is very rare for Senegals, though, so I don't know if it's worth making it an early priority when there is so much else I want my new baby to learn.

Does anybody here have another Sennie that uses language for specific communication? How did this evolve with your bird?
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Re: Senegals and speech vs. imitation

Postby Eurycerus » Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:07 pm

Diggy doesn't talk at all but makes plenty of fun noises (when he's not being pouty).

Nika says only a couple words and on her terms. When she's feeling hormonal/excited in her cage she'll say "pretty bird" and when I first get home she's very excited and she says "hello", so I think she sort of understands when to apply it. I've never actively tried to reinforce or not so I can't say whether that would make much difference.

It seems to me it might be very much unique for each parrot, whether they like to imitate noises or speech more.
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Re: Senegals and speech vs. imitation

Postby Andromeda » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:10 pm

I don't have a Sennie but I have a brown-headed parrot and I think they are similar from a talking perspective.

Jimmy was of unknown age when we adopted him and he didn't talk. About six months later he surprised me by saying his name and now years later he is quite the talker and his speech is very clear. He knows lots of words and phrases but he usually only talks when he is alone in his cage.

He does have a few things he says outside of his cage and in-context. He starts saying "Night night night" around his bedtime (I only tell him "Night night" but for whatever reason he likes to say it three times). He does that every day. Sometimes he says "Night night, Jimmy" or "Night night, birdie" as well.

If he sees me putting shoes on or walking out the front door (which he can see from his cage) he says, "I'll be back." If I put him in his travel cage (which I only do when he's going to the vet or to spend some time outside) he also says, "I'll be back." I have never told him "I'll be back" when putting him in his travel cage so it seems that on his own he applies that phrase to leaving the house, whether it's me leaving or him leaving.

If I put my conure in the sink to give him a bath Jimmy says, "Take a bath." Jimmy doesn't like to take a bath in the sink but will bate in his water dish on his own terms and when he does take a bath in his water dish he narrates it with, "Take a bath. Take a bath." He'll also repeat "Take a bath" for a while after he's finished bathing while he is still wet and drying off.

He is bonded to my husband and if my husband leaves the room he'll ask, "Where's your daddy?" and "Daddy?" and he'll usually keep asking that off and on until my husband returns.

Birds are kind of funny with speech; some will talk and some won't. The best thing you can do to encourage speech "in context" is to repeat the same word or phrases in certain situations. With Jimmy I tell him what we are doing before we do it, as we do it, and after we do it. For example, a few minutes before I put him to bed I'll say, "It's night night time." Then as I'm carrying him to his cage I'll say, "It's time to go night night." Then I tell him "Night night" several times as I'm covering his cage, and he gets one final "Night night" after he's covered as I'm closing the door to his room.

It's the same for the other words and phrases he uses "in context" and I really think it helps to repeat things just before, during, and right after instead of just saying something once or twice only while it is happening.
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Re: Senegals and speech vs. imitation

Postby GreenWing » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:20 pm

My sennie, Tiki, is a talker. Her voice however is very tiny and baby-ish; it's actually very cute. She talks as well as makes various noises, such as mimicking click sounds and whistles. I'm currently working on teaching her the wolf whistle.

Repeat words as you handle your sennie, say the words in the morning and at bedtime, too. Tiki says "I love you" quite a bit; I think she understands it's an affectionate thing as we say it when we're being affectionate with her (obviously). She tries to use this to her advantage by telling me "I love you" nonstop when she wants a treat or out of her cage.

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Re: Senegals and speech vs. imitation

Postby Strawfrawg » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:55 am

[quote="Andromeda"]Jimmy...knows lots of words and phrases but he usually only talks when he is alone in his cage.

That's interesting that Jimmy talks the most when he's alone in his cage. I wonder if he's simulating interaction with you.

Tikki sounds like Akeyo, by boyfriend's bird, about the "I love you" to get out of the cage. When Akeyo wants out, she shouts "Kisses!", which is the first thing David says to her in the morning when he lets her out. It's a cute ritual...she kisses him on the nose and he kisses her on the beak. If he doesn't let her out, she'll eventually yell "Out!" in her deepest voice.

All this talk about interaction makes me so eager to bring my new baby home. I've missed having a bird around so much!
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Re: Senegals and speech vs. imitation

Postby Andromeda » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:18 pm

Strawfrawg wrote:That's interesting that Jimmy talks the most when he's alone in his cage. I wonder if he's simulating interaction with you.


I seriously doubt it because Jimmy doesn't like me very much. :shock: However, I have my own theory that he is practicing "my calls" to try to win over my husband because he is bonded to my husband and when Jimmy talks he sounds like a bird-version of me; it's very clear that he's imitating my voice.

He also imitates four or five different calls my green cheek makes and he doesn't get along with him, either, so apparently he's just good at learning and imitating "flock" calls, even from members he doesn't like.

Then again I could just be over-thinking it and he might just like to talk when he's alone. Some birds are just like that for whatever reason.

His new thing (as of the past few days) is that if he sees me eating something he wants he tells me over and over again, "You're a pretty bird. You're a pretty birdie." Like if he reminds me enough times maybe he'll get something! :lol:
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Re: Senegals and speech vs. imitation

Postby Michael » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:51 pm

Kili basically only knows how to say "hello" but will readily offer it in public on cue which satisfies the whole "can it talk" nuisance. However, it also plays a fantastic role of replacing screaming and contact calling. Kili can say "hello" to mean like 5 different things in different contexts. Coming from her cage it means let me out. When she's on her training perch it means recall me. Sometimes she just says it out of being vocal. She also does it as a trick. So it's still a good idea to work on some speech with your bird because it sure beats annoying screaming. It shouldn't really interfere with normal training because this is what you do all the other time. Just talk to your bird whenever you do stuff. Say the things you are showing or giving and what you are doing. Some will pick it up but most won't. Even still they are apt listeners so if you always say "night night" before putting them away, even if they never learn to say it, I think it still helps communicate with them what is going on.
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Re: Senegals and speech vs. imitation

Postby GreenWing » Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:03 am

Strawfrawg wrote:
Tikki sounds like Akeyo, by boyfriend's bird, about the "I love you" to get out of the cage. When Akeyo wants out, she shouts "Kisses!", which is the first thing David says to her in the morning when he lets her out. It's a cute ritual...she kisses him on the nose and he kisses her on the beak. If he doesn't let her out, she'll eventually yell "Out!" in her deepest voice.


That is soooooo cute <3
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