Caring for Your Quaker Parrot
Quakers parrots, a.k.a Monk Parakeets, are intelligent, comical, and engaging birds with a wonderful zest for life. Their personalities are always "on", and they never seem to wake up on the wrong side of the perch, so to speak.
Native to South America, these medium-sized birds can live up to 30 years. They are very social birds that live in large flocks and nesting communities in the wild. Because they are highly curious and intelligent, it's very important for them to receive plenty of attention.
Keeping their cage in the main living area of your home and spending lots of time with these birds will make them feel more a part of the goings-on of the household.
The cage should an absolute minimum of 18” x 18” x 18”, with a bar spacing of 5/8”. Many experts recommend a cage designed for a medium-sized conure. As with any bird, the larger the cage, the better. Birds, including the quaker parrot, need space to move around and explore their environment. A larger cage gives plenty of room to add perches and climbing branches, as well as space to hang and place toys to keep your bird active and engaged.
When your quaker is full grown, plan on purchasing the largest bird cage that you can afford. Since baby quakers are rather clumsy, it’s okay to start with a smaller cage and upgrade to a larger one after six months or so.
The best location for your bird’s cage is generally in the main living space of your home--but not right in the middle of it. All birds are significantly more comfortable if they can have one or two sides of their cage toward a wall.
» 3 or more perches, (rope, natural branch, plastic etc)
» Food and water bowl (a treat/fruits and veggies cup can also be included)
» Some fun toys which are rotated with other toys each month (a bird does get bored of the same old toys)
Quakers do best on a varied diet of pellet food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and occasional seed mixes. Variety is the key to a healthy diet. The base diet should be pellets, not seeds. They also need fresh water daily as they often play in and soil their drinking water. Cuttlebone is required for calcium as well as beak and nail conditioning.
Safe veggies include asparagus, bean sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chicory, clover, corn on the cob, cucumbers, dandelion leaves, endive, green beans, kale, parsnips, peas, radicchio, romaine lettuce, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, sweet bell peppers, turnip, water chestnuts, watercress, and zucchini.
Safe fruit includes apple (no seeds), banana, berries, cantaloupe, cherries (no pit), cranberries, grapes (seedless), lychee, mango, melon, peaches (no pits), pear, plums (no pits), raspberries, raspberry leaves (helpful for diarrhea), and strawberries.
Dangerous Foods to Avoid
Avoid all alcohol, dry bean mixes, peanut shells, apple seeds, fava and navy beans, plums, avocado, fruit pits, potatoes (raw & green), butter, grapefruit, rhubarb, cabbage (all), lemons, salt, caffeine, mushrooms, sprouted lima, chocolate, onions, tomatoes, dried fruits that have been treated with sulphur dioxide, junk food, any food high in fat, salt, or sugar, processed meats, or other foods high in nitrates, sultes, or MSG.
Birds are also lactose intolerant, so milk products should be limited to small amounts of hard cheese and yogurt.
Signs of a Healthy Quaker
» Active and curious
» Not fluffed up (if it fluffs and un-fluffs this is normal and healthy)
» Clean, smooth feathers
» No clicks or squeaks when breathing
» Not breathing heavily
» Beak isn't too long
» Nails aren't too long
» Check the breastbone to see if you can feel it -- you'll be able to feel fat if your bird is overweight, and if it’s under weight, it'll be very pronounced.
» Eating and drinking
» The stool isn't sticking to its bottom
» The stool isn't watery
Common Health Concerns
» Rushed, abbreviated or interrupted breathing
» Stool that is consistently runny (note: vegetables will also cause runny stool)
» Decreased appetite or weight loss
» Feathers that are tattered or fluffed for a prolonged period
» Unusual sleeping patterns (i.e. compare to normal sleeping behaviors, like one foot up or two feet down, head tucked under wing, head crouched, body resting on both feet, etc.)
» Daily behavioral changes -- stops playing with toys, stops nibbling, trouble elevating, not perching in areas of the house where it used to, eating less frequently.
» Abnormal discharges from the nostrils or beak
» To ensure that your quaker has the longest lifespan possible, do not allow it to become overweight, and make sure to stay away from all-seed diets and other high fat foods.
Size: 11” long on average
Life span: 25 - 30 years
Origin: South America - Central Argentina to Uruguay, Bolivia, and Southern Brazil.
Care Level: Intermediate to advanced
They are little escape artists and can figure out how to open a cage door.
They are fearless birds--known to chase a cat or dog. Be aware of this tendency and be ready to step in if necessary.
They have an amazing capacity to imitate both sounds and human speech. While their speech doesn't equal the quality found in African Greys and some of the Amazons, it is definitely good enough to be clearly heard and understood. Most Quakers start talking at around 6 months or so, although many start even earlier than that.
Quakers are the only parrot species that build nests. In the wild, they live in giant nesting colonies--almost akin to apartment buildings for birds. You could say that one area is a bedroom, another is a living room, and the third is a front porch area. Eggs are laid and incubated in the back bedroom. When the chicks are about a month old, they are moved to the living room, and more eggs may then be laid in the bedroom area. The parents then use the porch area to guard their babies. Quaker pairs prefer to attach their nests to other existing Quaker nests, creating a large community, which can be quite large and heavy.
Colonies of free-flying Quakers exist in many of the eastern states. For this reason, several states have laws that either prohibit or in some way make it difficult to own Quakers.
If you would like to learn more about Quaker Parrots or have specific questions you'd like answered, please come visit the store and speak with one of our Animal Care Specialists!
Many references can be found that cover quaker parrot health issues--books are available for purchase in our store, and there’s a variety of online resources such as http://www.quakerparrots.com/.