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Victor the Budgie: Amazing Talking Bird

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything that’s simultaneously so creepy and cute.  Being that I love creepy and I love cute, I think Victor is pretty fucking awesome.

Here’s what the owner of Victor had to say:

My name is Ryan Reynolds and I have a one-of a kind parrot story that I would like to share with you. It is about a budgerigar named Victor who was the first parrot in the world to prove beyond a doubt that he could speak in conversational language. Victor was only about 8 weeks old when I brought him home from the pet shop.  From the beginning he was an extraordinary learner.  He could say the alphabet all the way through and repeat many nursery rhymes and verses at less than one year old.  Towards two years, his talking capabilities were so good, I started a website and began posting his recordings. After a while I noticed that he  was not just mimicking, but talking in context.  Late in 2000, I began to keep a weekly journal which updated people who came to his site on his progress. I wanted to prove to the world that parrots could communicate and talk in context. I believed Victor’s recordings would do that. Due to the time I spent trying to understand him better, and his willingness to learn and be recorded, his communication developed at an extremely fast pace. He proved that he could not only talk in context but was talented in other areas as well. Sadly, Victor became ill and died in March of 2001.   After his death I have spent many hours analyzing his remaining recordings and  improving the site in the  hope that the scientific community will not ignore this case study and recognize it as valuable research.


Some people may not believe this is possible so I have presented this information in the most reliable way I know; audio and video. Victor’s sites consist of four other sites, with several hundred pages of text and audio files. Each one of his recordings has something different in it to discover about parrot intelligence. After Victor died,   I continued working with his mate and three other budgies. They have also shown similar aptitudes for using context. Victor had passed on much of his knowledge to his mate Betty. She in turn passed some of it on to her new companions. I have also posted many recordings on a separate site just for them.  Although their recordings are not as clear and remarkable as Victor’s, they show they are using conversational language as well.  

Most people find Victor’s recordings easier to understand as they adapt to his budgie accent. Budgies are not like most parrots. They seldom sound like their trainers. They can talk exceptionally fast and their voices are so small they usually have to be made louder to hear all of what they are saying. When you are listening to them, you may have to play them several times, section by section to understand them. However,  I believe it to be well worth your time as you will be surprised at how intelligent they are.

I didn’t know if Victor was just some elaborate prank (i.e. Reynolds himself was recording Victor’s voice), so I did a little research. The often-helpful Museum of Hoaxes had this to say:

Victor is (or rather was) a budgie that, according to its owner, could speak in context. In other words, Victor could not only mimic words, as many birds can, but also carry on meaningful conversations. Victor has been a topic of discussion on the internet for over four years…

Victor belonged to Ryan Reynolds who, as he became aware that Victor was saying intelligible things, began to record him. Victor’s conversations go something like this: Victor so cute. What will you do for Victor? Give me some carrot. I get lots of cheese, mmmm, cheese, cheese. So I talk too fast, so whatever! Reynolds has made many audio recordings of Victor available on his website. There are also videos of Victor speaking. Victor died in 2000, so it’s impossible for anyone else to study him. Which is one of the reasons why a lot of people suspect Victor is simply an elaborate hoax concocted by Reynolds.

Another reason why this all might be a hoax is that budgies are not generally known for being able to carry on meaningful conversations. Also, Reynolds seems to be one of the very few people who can extract anything intelligible out of the weird noises Victor made. Though I can definitely catch the occasional word, most of Victor’s squawks sound like something out of The Exorcist to me. I half suspect that if you played them backwards, you’d discover Victor was muttering Satanic curses in ancient Aramaic. If the Electronic Voice Phenomena advocates (the people who swear they can hear coffee pots talking to them) got hold of Victor, they would probably conclude he was channelling spirits from beyond.

In Reynolds’ favor, he seems to passionately believe in Victor and, more generally, in the idea that birds possess the capacity for complex speech…. So my hunch is that Reynolds is sincere (i.e. this isn’t a deliberate hoax), but he’s convinced himself there’s something meaningful in a bird’s random chatter. Making this an example of audio pareidolia.

Now, I personally don’t buy that Victor was actually making sense.  More likely, he was just a very intelligent bird who figured out by spewing phrases one after the other he made his cherished owner very happy.  That, in its own way, is equally amazing.  And, as Alex from the Museum of Hoaxes pointed out, Ryan’s translations seem to consist of quite a bit of hopeful thinking. That said, he does seem to be saying a LOT of actual words, so I find it more impressive than Alex.

But who knows?  I’m not a budgie expert.  Maybe Ryan is right.  And I more than appreciate what he (and Victor) have done here.  What do you think?  

You can see many, many more videos of Victor visit his site HERE (please help to thank Ryan and Victor by clicking on this link).

Thanks to J.G. Pasterjak for turning me onto this kickass bird.

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