parakeet hearing

Facts about parakeet hearing and how it impacts life in the home

Similar to eyesight, parakeets have a really fantastic sense of hearing in ways that differ from humans.  The most noticeable difference is that you may never see your parakeet’s ears, since they are internal, versus the human’s exterior ear.  Perhaps if your parakeet takes a really thorough bath you might glimpse their ear holes, but I’ve never seen them on either of my budgies!

All of the research I’ve done indicates that parakeets can hear roughly the same range of sounds as humans, maybe a little better, but this doesn’t explain to me why Toby and Kelly will spend hours flock calling to birds outdoors that I can only faintly hear, or would have to go outside to hear.

What may be a factor is their relationship to sound, they have much more perfect pitch than I do, and they can store sound in their memory more effectively than I can.  (*source www.little

Their proficiency at memorizing sounds in sequence helps them learn to mimic human speech and snippets of music, or in the wild to learn calls that are specific to them and other birds.  There is evidence that parrot parents name their children with specific sounds and that those sounds are used for that parrot for their entire life.

I read anecdotal evidence once that suggested this talent could extend to pet parakeets.  A woman named Laura had a single male parakeet with an incredibly large vocabulary – she decided to get him a friend and introduced a second parakeet, which she did not name. A short while later, she found that her first parakeet had begun calling the new friend “Laura” while preening her or snuggling at night. It’s touching to think that the male parakeet loved his owner so much that he named his new friend after her. Although I suppose it’s equally possible he just didn’t know any other names, it’s still pretty good evidence that he had a concept of naming. (I will keep trying to find the link to this story again, I haven’t been able to and I apologize that it’s not credited.)

My female parakeets have zero interest in mimicking human speech or most sounds they hear.  When Kelly came home she had some new noises that Toby hadn’t heard, but instead of adding each other’s sounds to their lexicons they settled somewhere in the middle and now we can’t tell the two of them apart by their calls.  I wonder if it’s because they are so solidly a flock that they have their own agreed upon language of sounds.

I know that they make the same call frequently, and with varying degrees of urgency.  When Toby and Kelly are playing in different places they will call out to each other every so often to touch base. If one doesn’t respond the other calls louder or goes to find them.  When my husband or I go to the bathroom sometimes one of the budgies will get anxious and start calling to us, if we don’t come back or respond they do the same thing and come to find us and make sure we are okay.  For me, that’s wonderful proof that we are part of their flock too, even if we don’t speak the same language!

Parakeets can also be easily startled by loud or unexpected noises, so that’s something to watch out for, especially with new parakeets in the home that may be spooked already, it’s nice to keep things quiet and relaxed for them.  This probably relates back to their lives in the wild as prey, it would certainly be beneficial to be on your guard and ready to escape from danger.  Another way this links back to eyesight is after dark it’s especially important not to scare them with loud noises, since they can’t reassure themselves that everything is okay using their eyes.

There are a lot of ways that you can engage your parakeet using their sense of hearing that are fun for both of you, and even if they never mimic a single sound it’s still enriching to expose them to new sounds and sound patterns.  Have fun exploring new music with your parakeets, maybe you’ll end up having the same favorite song 🙂

Click here to read our post about parakeet eyesight

5 thoughts on “Facts about parakeet hearing and how it impacts life in the home”

  1. Hey. Do you know the distance a budgie can hear? I just gave my two budgies away,but the guy who got them,manages to lose one of them(it flew out of the chage,a big outdoor cage). I guess the they will try and call for eachoter,but how far is to far away to hear?

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that a budgie got out! I am having a tough time finding any hard facts about the distance that a budgie can hear. Anecdotally, I know that my budgies can hear things outside my house that I can’t or can only hear faintly, so I’m sure it’s much better than human hearing, but I don’t know by how much.

      So sorry I’m not a lot of help on this one, I have heard lots of good stories of folks using their remaining budgie(s) calls to bring home a lost member of the flock though, so good luck!

      1. Well. I don’t want to abuse my bird and I have a Stereo system in the living room.. I keep him in my room while I play my hard dubstep music that sometimes has high pitches that even hurt my own ears when I crank it. I don’t want my bird to become deaf .. think he will be okay?
        He seems to be pretty aggressive lately which could either be from him feeling my own stress and anxiety or he might be angry over hearing loss . I do not let him hear the music directly even when people ask me to bring him out while it plays but I’m afraid that he may have such acute hearing it could’ve damaged him .. I hope not .

      2. This is a very interesting question. It is actually impossible for your bird to have permanent hearing loss due to your loud music. When human beings damage their hearing the little hair follicles/cells in our ears die off and can never regrow.

        When a parrots hearing is damaged these cells actually do regrow so they get their hearing back. I don’t know how much frustration there is in that process, however, for the bird.

        Birds are really sensitive to vibration, so your bird may feel incredibly insecure when your bass is thumping.

        They do definitely have music preferences too, in my experience, so maybe he just isn’t a fan of dubstep. He may also be picking up on your anxiety for sure.

        If possible, I would recommend thinking about setting a lower upper limit for how loud you listen to music. Even if it’s just to protect your own ears since the damage to those would be permanent!

        Good luck!

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