What should you expect from your Quaker parrot?
Quaker parrots, also known as Monk parakeets, are medium-sized parrots with long, gradated tails. They are intelligent, extremely hardy and generally friendly with strangers. Quakers are considered to be one of the best talkers, with extraordinary ability to mimic and speak with cognition. Hand-fed domestic Quakers often rival African greys in their ability to acquire huge vocabularies, and sometimes will repeat words, before they are even weaned.
The behavioral characteristics of Quaker parrots can run the gamut from aggression, biting, noisy, and obnoxious to charming, comical, cuddly and engaging. The difference is in how they are raised and trained. Quakers are best professionally hand-fed and weaned so they are well socialized before going into a home situation. An untrained, unsocialized Quaker may not be recommended around children.
On the other hand, hand-fed Quakers are considered almost to be a domesticated species with second and third generation offspring less noisy and more talkative than parent-raised birds.
What do Quaker parrots do all day?
Quakers bond strongly to an individual or location, so controls must be maintained to minimize this territory related aggression. Play areas should be provided away from the enclosure so the bird does not establish its territory as the cage. To further reduce potential hostility, one can occasionally rearrange perches and toys in the cage, move the location of the cage, take the bird to unfamiliar territory, and house the bird lower than a persons head.
Aggression can also be reduced in an environment enriched with toys. Quakers actually play with toys, moving them around to control their placement in the cage. Simple toys like paper towel centers, coffee stirrers, bells, twigs or branches prevent development of boredom-related behaviors such as screaming and feather chewing. Opportunities for baths or showers should also be provided. Sexual behaviors directed at toys or humans are common and should be regarded with neutral response. Noise control of a screaming bird is accomplished by covering the cage.
Are Quaker parrots tame?
Because they are territorial, Quakers may be nippy in and around the cage, but are often docile away from the cage. Nipping or biting should not be rewarded by attention, but rather should be ignored, especially when the young bird is beginning to express independence. Quakers respond easily and quickly to common behavior modification techniques. Teaching the young bird simple behaviors, such as up, will establish a positive relationship within the family. Children's play with Quakers should be supervised.
It is best to start training a Quaker as a juvenile bird, keeping the wing feathers trimmed as they grow, and moving the bird from place to place on your hand rather than allowing it to fly. It is important to start with the level of attention you are able and willing to provide long-term and to encourage them to play independently.
How can you keep your Quaker parrot healthy, happy and safe?
- Give lots of attention.
- Feed a fresh, high quality, toxin-free, pelleted diet
- Grit is probably not necessary with modern captive diets.
- Provide clean, fresh, uncontaminated water.
- Remove and replace food and water containers twice daily to maximize activity in a healthy bird.
- Provide an occasional opportunity for bath, shower, or misting (at least weekly).
- Avoid spraying house with insecticides.
Housing for your Quaker should:
- Be as large as possible.
- Be clean, secure, safe, and easy to service.
- Be constructed of durable, nontoxic materials.
- Contains variable-sized perches made of clean, nontoxic, pesticide-free tree branches.
- Avoid having perches located directly over food containers.
- Contain toys and accessories that are moved around occasionally to prevent boredom and aggression.
- Offer occasional opportunity for protected outdoor exposure to fresh air, sunlight, and exercise.
Things you must keep away from your Quaker parrot:
- Ceiling fans
- Hot cooking oil
- Teflon coated items
- Leg chains
- Sandpaper-covered perches
- Tobacco and cigarette smoke
- Chocolate, avocado, salt, alcohol
- Toxic houseplants
- Toxic fumes
- Easily dismantled toys
- Dogs, cats, ferrets, and young children
- Cedar, redwood, and pressure treated wood shavings
- Sources of lead or zinc
For more information visit: Association of Avian Veterinarians, Good Bird, Inc.