Quaker parrots are known for their ability to mimic human voices. They are relatively small and are a very smart species; hence, widely kept as pets. This BirdEden article has information about their diet, cage requirements, and other care specifications if you’re planning to get one.
Check the Legalities
Quaker parrots are considered as pests in many states. Selling and owning, both, is illegal in such places. Do check the legal regulations in your area or state, because these birds, if found in captivity, might be confiscated or euthanized.
The quaker parrot (Myiopsitta monachus) is also called the monk parakeet. It is a small species which is characterized by a green body with grayish breast and abdomen (might be greenish-yellow). It grows only up to 29 cm (11 inches). It is native to the temperate regions of South America. The name quaker is derived from its distinct feature of quaking and shaking. In the wild, it is seen living in flocks. It builds unique, large, and stick nests which have different chambers for different pairs. There is no visible difference in the male and the female, so only DNA testing can determine the sex of the bird.
These can be kept as pets (if legal!) because of their good nature. They love attention and will keep you busy with their antics. Their special talent of mimicking human voice is sure to amuse everyone! Just make sure that you have adequate information about them and provide for all their needs. Also, if you want a specific male or female, ask for a DNA certificate.
These birds are very active, hence they require large enclosures. Anything more than 20″ x 20″ x 20″ is fine. The most appropriate will be 24″W x 24″D x 36″H. A flight cage is also recommended, the bigger, the better! It should be a cage with not more than 1/2-inch space between each bar.
There should be many perches in the cage with different diameters. The difference helps in exercising their feet, which will prevent arthritis. Avoid keeping the perches right above any food or water source to avoid contamination.
Add many different-colored and different types of toys to climb, chew, etc. Replace them periodically if they seem worn out or damaged. Also, keep cleaning them regularly.
The droppings tray can be kept away from the birds enclosure by a metal grate kept just above the tray. The droppings tray should be cleaned every day to ensure a healthy environment.
Do not use sandpaper perches or as floor paper because it will harm their feet.
They are known to be great escapists. So ensure a proper locking system to prevent your pet from escaping or injuring itself.
Clean and disinfect the whole cage regularly. Wipe out the perches too. If you’re using any cage liner or substrate, make sure you replace it. The food/water dishes should be cleaned every single day, without fail.
The placement of the cage is also very important. Do not keep them where it is extremely hot or cold. You can use a heating pad in extreme winters. Try not to cover the cage with a fabric/blanket as it can get too hot or it can get stuck in their nails and damage them. Last, but not the least, do not keep them in a room where there is too much traffic. At the same time, do not keep them in an isolated place. They need constant interaction with you, so find an appropriate place.
Place the cage in a corner such a condition that 1 – 2 sides face the wall, which will provide the birds a sense of security. Overall, place the cage in a well-lit area, away from the floor or drafts.
Make sure that no cage part or toys are made of lead, zinc, or lead-based paints as they can cause serious damage to the bird.
Quakers can be really territorial with other birds. Some have known to be good with other birds, but some have known to never get along. It is not advised to keep them with different species. Some have successfully been kept with the same species, but watch out for any signs. Their nesting behavior makes them very territorial.
A mixture of pellets, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables should be given. Try out different fruits, and you’ll know which ones they like. You can even feed them sprouts too.
The birds should NOT be given chocolate, caffeine, fruit seeds, fried and junk food, sugar, and avocados.
Chlorine-free water is necessary everyday. Treat the tap water with a de-chlorinating treatment. Do not use distilled water.
It is advised to give it a calcium supplement; either by cuttlebone or a calcium treat. If it doesn’t eat it, you can mix a powdered version with its food.
Any vegetable or fruit pieces should be removed if not eaten in a day’s time.
They are very curious, playful, and want to be a part of everything you do.
They also need time out of the cage, which will give them enough space to exercise.
They can be quite loud and will mimic human voices or any sound. They will register anything you say, so be careful of what you say.
They are normally gentle, but can be overtly territorial. They follow a single “boss” in the wild; hence, start reinforcing that you are the boss, since day 1. Keep your eye level above the parrot’s eye level.
Know your pet’s sounds and body language well. When angry, they are known to puff their feathers up to appear bigger, make their pupils small, crouch low, and move back and forth. Hence, it is better to leave them alone at such times.
Give the birds a water bath, if possible, or just spray/mist weekly. The spray should be of room temperature and should not be sprayed directly in the face. Just spray it like natural rain.
Nails should be trimmed, but only by a vet. Trimming them incorrectly can hurt the bird, so don’t do try it yourself!
Clipping the feathers is an option to prevent them from escaping or even injury. If you decide to do it, consult the vet first to know what should be done. Seek expert advise or get them clipped by a professional as it can harm the bird if done incorrectly.
Breeding these birds requires a lot of space and twigs, of course! Many of them refuse to use the nest boxes but some may. Give them the material, and they’ll start as they prefer.
The female lays 4 – 8 eggs each year. The gestation period is of 24 – 25 days, and the young leave the nest after 6 weeks.
Signs of good health
Proper eating and drinking throughout
A clean and dry vent
Active and playful
Dry nostrils and eyes
The overall look should be normal
Signs of an unhealthy bird
Coughing or wheezing
Fluffed or soiled feathers
Sitting on floor continuously
Perching on single foot
Discharge in eyes or nose
Loss of appetite
Feather Plucking: The bird can be seen plucking its own feathers. The causes can vary from boredom, wrong diet, to illness. Improve the diet, provide different toys and extra space. Contact the vet for advice.
Diarrhea: Runny stools can be an indication of poor diet or internal parasites. Contact the vet for advice so that the diet can be changed appropriately.
Chlamydiosis: Appetite loss, discharge from the nose, and fluffed feathers are indicators. Consult a vet as soon as possible.
Coccidiosis: Sudden weight loss and blood in stool are prime indicators. Consult the vet immediately.
Mites: It is also known as the Scaly Face and Leg Disease. White deposits on feet, beak, and eyes is an indication. Start the treatment with a vet immediately.
They can also be prone to fatty liver disease, which can cause due to a high-fat diet (only seed diet). Balance their diet well and contact the vet if you notice anything unusual.
Bonding and Training Tips
Spend at least an hour everyday with your parrot. Start talking to it and respond when he talks. Words are not important, because they understand the tone and your intention.
They are used to lot of noise in the wild, so make sure you keep them in a room where there is interaction. Also, you place a radio in their vicinity. But, do remember, it will mimic anything and everything.
When you’re ready to take it out of its enclosure, may be in a room, close all doors and windows. Cover all mirrors too as they may feel threatened. You can open the cage door and then let it take its own time to be comfortable with you. Then, you can start basic training like sitting on your hand.
Remember that it loves interacting but it also needs a good sleep. Tired birds can get very noisy, so give your pet a good night’s sleep.
They can have behavior problems like too much biting and screaming. Proper training and immense love will get rid of it. If it is sitting on your hand and biting you, just lower your hand just enough for it to lose balance but not fall. Screaming and taking your hand back will not help. Appreciate the sounds you accept, and ignore the screams. You may also switch off the lights or cover it till its calm. They will eventually understand what is acceptable and what is not.
Their fearless attitude may put them at risk, sometimes. Keep an eye on it when it is out of the cage. Keep it away from other pets which can harm it.
Quaker parrots are very intelligent and can open the lock of their enclosure and come out. So, make sure you use strong locks and new ways to outwit their smartness.
Do not use swear words in front of them. You don’t want your parrot to scream vulgar words every time. When it starts screaming loudly, keep discouraging it from the beginning.
Quaker parrots are very smart and will thrive on your love. So give them loads, and you’ll get so much more!