Watch Your Language Around Birds

Take Care In What You Say!. Adrianna Williams Digital Vision / Getty Images

A very important thing to consider regarding having birds in your life is their longevity and the fact that most companion parrots have more than one family in their lifetime. They live a long time and odds are they will end up in more than one home. 

Caring for and training a parrot to have some manners will certainly increase the chances that these birds will be adoptable over the long run. 

A sweet tempered and well behaved bird usually finds a new family faster than one who has issues with a very obvious obstacle: Her language.


I’m not talking about verbalizing in Spanish as opposed to English or French. I’m talking about a bird that swears like a drunken pirate his first night back in port. Many families with children don’t want to hear that sort of talk from anyone let a alone a bird they have adopted sitting in residence in their home. 

It is simply uncomfortable for them and having their parrot teach that kind of thing to a young child isn’t anything they want to see happen. 

I have seen many a bird with a “potty mouth” and it’s kind sad really. Many people think it’s funny, but it isn’t. In the long run it’s going to delay or even prevent that parrot from finding a home that they would otherwise be quite happy in. 

Sometimes, such as with one of my three African Greys, certain words came “preinstalled” with the “F” Bomb.  Apparently Nyla was raised on the other side of the tracks and she came to my home with this as well as a few other choice words.


My friends and I generally ignore her when this word comes out of her beak, but occasionally we’ll tell her “No” and to watch her potty mouth. I’d love to say she was ashamed of herself but I doubt that’s the case. 

One way of handling it would be to replace the offending word with a word very similar to it and try to reinforce that word in hopes that she would use the similar sounding word if she is repeatedly reinforced by using it.


I’ve also found that simply having a talk with her about using it doesn’t achieve the desired results either although it does yield some pretty funny results. 

One day, my friend Nan and I were sitting in my living room with Nyla, some coffee and conversation. All of a sudden, Nyla loose with a large “F” Bomb.”

Nan turned to her and said, “Nyla, we don’t want you to say things like that. We want you to be a good girl.” 

Nyla looked at both of us, blinked and replied, “I’m a working class girl!” 

We were stunned of course. We even went so far as to each write down what we thought we had heard on separate pieces of paper just to make sure we both heard the same thing. Oh yeah. She had said it. We both heard the same words come from that black beak of hers. 

Little by little over the years the frequency of this utterance has diminished. She doesn’t yell it out loud and can only be heard to mutter it now and again. But has it completely disappeared? Not yet but my friends and I are hopeful. 

It’s best to try and train yourself to use words like “Sugar!” and “Rats!” when you feel the need to yell something after having dropped an expensive item or watching your laptop computer have a complete meltdown.


I’ve had public contact positions in my life and had to train myself not to use these words. But I’m even more careful now that I have parrots. Parrots learn a word and it is extremely difficult to get them to stop saying something they have learned. 

So best train yourself and your family members as well as your friends that your home is a “No Swear Zone.” At least when you are within earshot of your parrots.