It's more than a novelty to have a pet who can talk to you, conversing with words that you recognize. Birds are known for their ability to speak, and some talented birds can even mimic the voices of specific people. Myna birds are known to be talented little talkers, but given their life expectancy of 12 years maximum, if you're looking for a bird that will live long and can talk, you want a parrot.
When it comes to long life expectancy and the skill to speak, parrots win out over all other birds, hands down. With over 300 different species of parrots to choose from, you have no shortage of options. Different species of parrots have different life expectancies. Certain species are better talkers than others, too. What kind of parrot you choose will depend on how important a large vocabulary is and whether or not you want your bird to outlive you.
In the wild, parrots might be fortunate to live 10 years, because of illness, predators or scarcity of food. In captivity, though, it's common for parrots to live 20, 40, even 60 years or longer. It's not unusual for parrot parents to make arrangements for their feathered "child's" care in the event that the bird outlives them. For instance, if you adopt a baby macaw when you're 35, you may have to stick around until you're 105 if you want to outlive him.
Not all parrots are inclined to talk, and even within a species that is known for superior talking abilities, individuals may not end up being big talkers. In general, though, Amazon parrots, eclectus, macaws and Quakers are all types of parrots that are willing to learn and inclined to become proficient talkers.
Best of the Best
If you want to adopt a bird who has the capability to learn a large number of words and who will outlive you, you're looking for an African gray parrot. They are very intelligent, enjoy interacting with their humans and have the best capacity to learn and speak words. Even if your African gray learns only a few hundred words, he'll still know enough to chat you up. And because he has a life expectancy of up to 60 years, you're practically guaranteed to have someone to talk to for as long as you live.