Country of Origin: Central Bolivia and southern Brazil to central Argentina
Males Size: 29 cm in length (including the tail) with a wingspan of 53 cm
Female Size: 10 – 20% smaller than the males
Also known as: Grey-breasted parakeet, Quaker Parrot, Quaker
Care Requirements: Medium
Lifespan: 25-30 years
Best Suited as: Family Pets
Quaker Monk Parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus), known as the Quaker, are intelligent and playful birds that enjoy talking loudly with their owners and other parrots. These quick learners love to repeat words much to the delight (and sometimes dismay) of their owners.
Quaker male and females look alike. Their upper plumage is bright green while their forehead, cheeks, breast area and legs are pale grey. Their under parts vary from light green to yellow. Their flight feathers are blue, and their tails are long. Quakers have distinct faces with orange bills, brown beaks, dark brown eyes with grey eye rings. It is the facial feathering, a gray bibbed pattern which resembles an old fashioned Quaker costume, which inspired their name.
Birds with white, blue, and yellow in place of green are not uncommon among domesticated Quakers.
The Quaker has become a popular pet because of its outgoing and engaging personality. They are usually cheerful, self-assured, intelligent and social creatures. Prone to boredom, and often said to have a mischievous streak, the Quaker needs stimulation to keep itself out of trouble. Quakers are said to be toy lovers and providing a variety of different play things will keep your Quaker happy and busy. Teaching your bird to whistle a happy tune will also provide hours of entertainment.
Quakers should be socialized at a young age with all family members and other pets, and proper handling and behavior techniques should be maintained to ensure a happy and well-mannered bird.
While usually charming birds, at their worst, Quakers can be noisy, stubborn and may self-mutilate by plucking out their feathers.
Quakers require minimal care but lots of attention. They can be great companions and provide hours of entertainment. The Quaker is relatively easy to feed and groom and needs to have the proper enclosures and toys to keep it stimulated.
The Quakers diet should consist of 65-80% high-quality pellets or nuggets, washed fruits and vegetables, and an occasional cricket or mealworm. Most pet stores will carry these things but do not be fooled by low quality food with appealing packages. Your bird will be much healthier and happier with a balanced and high quality diet. If you chose to introduce new food to your Quaker, be patient and persistent. Like children, they often need to see or try a food numerous times before they accept it.
Your Quaker will not require much grooming but its beak and nails do need to be trimmed occasionally. They are strong chewers and if left attended you may find your pet destroying personal items left around the house. Supply plenty of wood toys in their cage and they will be less likely to seek your “toys”.
If you own a particularly curious Quaker, feather trimming might also be necessary. Some Quakers have been known to find themselves stuck in toilets and aquariums because of their inquisitive nature. Quakers do need free time to fly around the house but be careful to keep a close eye on it.
Quakers love baths and love to splash around in their water dishes. If you would like to give your pet a more formal bath, you can use a spray bottle (with a lighter mist) combined with a small amount of glycerin.
The Quakers cage or enclosure is his castle and it is important to keep it clean and comfortable. When cleaning the cage, it is best to allow the Quaker to leave first as they often become quite territorial of their home and may end up hurting you.
The Quaker Parrot builds one of the most unique and elaborate nests in the wild. Usually quite large and communal, wild Quakers use twigs and thorny branches to build a number of compartments for each member with its own entrance. The more compartments, the heavier the nest becomes. As breeding season approaches, additional compartments are added to these birdlike condos.
While domesticated Quakers do not need to build their own nests, it is important to take a lesson from their wild peers in understanding the most comfortable environment for them. Most importantly, Quakers should not be housed with other birds as they are quite territorial and will often become aggressive in protecting their home. Larger cages are preferable because there needs to be room for toys, perches and boughs. At the smallest, a 18″ square cage can be used if the bird only sleeps and spends no more than a few hours a day there. Due to dominance issues Quakers’ cages should be placed at chest level of the shortest member of the family. This will keep the bird from attempting to dominate smaller family members.
Quakers are usually pretty hardy birds with minimal health concerns. Poor diet is the biggest contributor to their ill health. Some overweight Quakers may suffer from Fatty Liver Disease. To avoid obesity and Fatty Liver Disease it is best to limit the number of seeds and nuts from their diet.
Some neglected Quakers may also develop Quaker Mutilation Syndrome (QMS). QMS occurs when the bird plucks out its own feathers. Keeping your bird happy and stimulated will keep your pet from developing this syndrome.
If health problems due occur, it is best to take your Quaker to an avian vet.
Suitability as a pet
Teaching your Quaker to talk is one of the great perks to owning this bird. They are able to learn and mimic a large number of words and sentences and may develop quite an extensive vocabulary by the time they reach their golden years. Although some complain that this bird is too loud with its shrill screeches and squawks, many Quakers will win their owners over with their funny antics and devoted nature.
Due to the noise level, these birds do not make ideal pets for apartment owners or those with small napping children. In general they are good with calm children if supervised and only some ill trained Quakers are aggressive toward other animals and people.
Most Quakers are easy to train and should be socialized early on with humans and other family pets. If hand fed from infancy they will continue to enjoy eating this way. They love human companionship and need daily interaction. If your Quaker does not exhibit dominance issues, they may ride along on your shoulder.