The Quaker Parrot (whose scientific name is Myiopsitta monachus) is an interesting species of bird that gets its name from the pattern of its facial feathers. These resemble the old style of dress that a Quaker wore in the 19th century.
Apart from this gray bibbed pattern that maps out the cheeks, neck, and chest of a Quaker, the rest of the bird is quite colorful – as many parrots tend to be. They make good pet birds for many households, though they are illegal to own in several American states.
Can I Own a Quaker Parrot?
The Quaker is considered an agricultural threat because they multiply extremely quickly. A breeding pair of Quakers could produce as many as six clutches of chicks each year, with each clutch containing anywhere from five to twelve eggs. These baby birds hatch in 24 days, too.
It has been illegal to own a Quaker for several years in a number of states in America, while others require special licenses to take on ownership of a Quaker bird. Because the Quaker feeds on crops in the wild, they often nest near farms and can end up in some fairly fragile places. Considering how many baby birds can be born into a Quaker community, their nesting and feeding behavior can quickly become destructive.
It is illegal to own a Quaker Parakeet in these states:
- Rhode Island
You need a license and to either clip the parrot’s wings or band them in these states:
- New Jersey
- New York
Note: Banding a bird means to place an identification band on one of their legs. It is a way to track and identify birds that are either in captivity (as pets or otherwise) or being studied for scientific reasons.
Other states may have restrictions on the ownership of Quakers, the lists above are by no means exhaustive. However, there are over 30 states in America where you can own a Quaker without any restrictions in place. These include Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, and Texas.
About the Quaker Parrot
- Myiopsitta monachus monachus
The largest form of a Quaker, found in Argentina to Buenos Aires Province and Uruguay
- Myiopsitta monachus calita
With bluer wings and a darker gray on its head, this subspecies of Quaker is found from southeastern Bolivia to Paraguay and northwestern Argentina.
- Myiopsitta monachus cotorra
Similar to the Myiopsitta monachus calita but with a brighter green tone to the upper plumage and less yellow on the stomach of the bird. Found in southwestern Brazil.
- Cliff Parakeet, Myiopsitta monachus luchsi
The chest, forehead, and forecrown of the Cliff Parakeet is entirely pale gray. They also have different nesting habits, so there is some discussion as to whether or not this parakeet is a separate species, rather than a subspecies of the Quaker Parakeet. Found in the Andean valleys of central Bolivia.
- White-winged Parakeet
Formerly called the Canary-winged Parakeet, this parakeet shares much of the same coloring that Quakers do. The major difference lies in the yellow band on the outer side of their wings, and the lack of gray on their face and chest.
- Yellow-chevroned Parakeet
Sharing traits with both the Quaker and the White-winged Parakeet, this species is native to South America and has no gray on their body at all. They are mostly green, with some yellow on their wings.
Quaker Parrot Care
The Monk Parakeet is a strong, long-living bird that can become a great pet if their needs are met. Though they are considered an agricultural pest in the wild, this bright green bird is a wonderful breed to have in your home. The average lifespan of most Quakers is long, so they won’t pass away in a few years like many other household pets – such as hamsters, whose lifespan is just two to three years.
Parrots have often been seen as an exotic choice of household pet. Owning two Quakers in the same cage may present its challenges, but you’ll avoid any of the difficulties that come when you don’t house the same species of bird together. Quakers are capable of picking up human speech and mimicking it. They speak clearly, which only entices more pet owners into buying them.
If you’re considering purchasing a Quaker, there are several things you will need to know about their care, habits, and personality.
What Food do Quaker Parrots Eat?
Quakers are happy to eat fresh foods such as fruit, root vegetables, and leafy greens. They will also eat seeds, as many other bird species do. Any fresh produce that was left uneaten should be thrown out the next morning at the latest. This will help prevent any bacteria from making your pet sick.
Though many birds that are kept as pets are left to a seed-based diet, the Monk Parakeet needs to have their diet supplemented by fresh fruit and vegetables to keep them fit and healthy. Poor diet and nutrition is one of the leading causes of health issues in birds that are kept in captivity.
Seeds should never be the only source of food that your bird is given to eat. They shouldn’t even make up the majority of their diet. For a balanced diet, around 70% of your bird’s food should consist of bird pellets that have been formulated to meet your bird’s daily nutritional needs. 20% of their diet should then be fruits and vegetables, such as blackberries, pomegranates, apples, carrots, corn, and peas.
Do not feed your Monk Parakeet any avocado. This vegetable has been reported as a potentially toxic food source for birds and it’s best to avoid it.
The final 10% of your bird’s diet can be seeds and the occasional serving of nuts (nuts are high-fat and should be treated as a treat, rather than part of a daily Monk Parakeet’s diet).
Offer fresh water every day.
How Much Food Does a Quaker Eat?
An avian vet would recommend feeding your bird around a quarter cup of pellets each day for small breeds like parakeets. You can offer your Quaker a couple of pieces of fruit and vegetables with their pellets, and a side serving of seeds.
Best Toys for Quaker Parrots
Like many other parrots, Quakers love bird toys. In fact, a Quaker is more likely to approach and play with a new toy than some other parrots would. They’re naturally inquisitive and very intelligent. The downside to this is that they will also become bored of their playthings very quickly, even though most parrots are happy to use their toys until they need to be replaced. To combat this, try occasionally switching out the items in your Quaker’s cage and offer them something completely new every now and then.
Items that have a range of activities on them are certainly some of the best toys for a Monk Parrot to entertain themselves with. There are plenty of hanging toys on the market that offer several activities. in one product.
Best Cage for a Quaker
At the absolute minimum, your Quaker needs a cage that is 18 inches all around. That’s length, width, and height. The bars should be spaced 5/8″ apart on any cage that you purchase for Monk Parakeets, though anything up to half an inch is fine, too.
Although 18 inches is the minimum, it is better for your Quaker Parakeet to have a little extra space. An ideal cage would be around 24 inches in length and height, with a width of 30 inches. If you’re unsure about the size of the cage you have, a good rule of thumb is to choose a cage that is 1.5 x your bird’s wingspan. Bigger is always better when it comes to cages.
Is your Monk Parakeet the only parrot in your home? Then you can safely measure their wingspan to figure out the best cage dimensions. For two Quaker Parakeets being housed together, double the cage size. Yes, you may end up with a cage that’s around 50″ in length, width, and height, but that’s what you need to keep your Quakers happy and healthy.
Quaker Parrot Health Problems
Fatty Liver Disease
Unfortunately a common health issue with many birds that are kept as pets, fatty liver disease comes about when birds are fed high-fat foods for a prolonged length of time. This mostly happens in birds with seed-based diets.
When a bird suffers from fatty liver disease, they may also have issues with their beak growing irregularly.
Destructive behaviors where the bird plucks or damages their own feathers are usually the result of stress but can be caused by neurological disorders or be signs of other serious conditions.
Feather plucking can be a sign of Giardia Infection, which is an infection of a Quaker’s intestine and interferes with their ability to digest fat and absorb vitamins and minerals.
A common disease in all parrots, psittacosis is caused by bacteria and can be transmitted from bird to bird. It’s possible that your Quaker has this illness if they have any of these symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Breathing issues
- Fluffed feathers
- Eye and/or nose discharge
- Inflamed eyes
- Weight loss
Young Quakers are susceptible to this virus. It’s a deadly disease that targets several of a Quaker’s organs at the same time, but it only affects caged birds. Symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite
- Swollen stomach
- Frequent urination
- Breathing issues
- Feather deformation
- Weight loss
Quaker Parrot Personality
Quaker Parrots are extremely playful and very talkative. Pet owners enjoy adopting Quakers into their home because they are an excellent talking bird and love to socialize. If a homeowner was looking for a bird that enjoyed speaking to people every day, a Quaker could certainly be the right bird for them to bring home.
Because socialization is such a huge part of a Quaker’s personality and overall health, owners of this pet bird can use socializing as a positive part of the Quaker Parrot’s training. Doing this will help your Monk Parakeet avoid picking up the domineering habits that other birds sometimes adopt when they’re kept as pet birds.
Keeping Quaker Parrots as Pets
It is not advised that you keep Monk Parakeets with any other species of pet bird that you may have or want to bring into your home. The Quaker Parakeet often lives in communities with their own species, and aren’t likely to get along with other birds. Having more than one bird in your home can be challenging when they are birds of different species. It’s best to let your Monk Parakeets build their small communal nests and live together.
On that note, do ensure that you have your Monk Parakeets sexed. With how quickly this hardy bird can breed, you may end up with a lot of unexpected chicks.
Quaker Parrots in the Wild
When you think about the nests that birds construct, you picture a nest high up in a tree, nestled between the branches to give it more stability. The Quaker is the only species of parrot that ignores that logic of nest building. Instead, they prefer to build free-standing nests using twigs and other plant material like leaves. These stick structure nests are often interlinked with other nests made by Quakers.
Some nest structures can be as large as a small car and may weigh up to 200 pounds. Nests of this size have a number of chambers from the various Quakers in the community that have contributed to the structure with their own nests.
The Quaker Parakeet is native to northeast Argentina. They’re quite common in that region, and can often be found in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Entre Rios, and Santa Fe. You may also find Quakers in Bolivia, the south of Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
Although Quakers are considered to be a woodland species – and historically, they would have been found in woodland areas – they have adapted to various urban places as time has marched on and their habitats have changed. It’s not unusual to find Quaker Parakeets near farmland, for example.
Are They Quaker Parrots or Quaker Parakeets?
In this case, the Quaker Parrot should really always be called a Quaker Parakeet. Parakeets are small to medium-sized birds that are a parrot species. The terms are often considered interchangeable because there aren’t too many parrot species that are large birds. Quaker Parakeets are a type of budgie (another name for a parakeet), which is a type of parrot.
It gets confusing if you think about it too much, but essentially: All parakeets are parrots, but not all parrots are parakeets.
Q: Why is my Quaker Parrot shaking?
A: A bird that is shaking or trembling could be suffering from a fever. When Quakers are feverish, they often shake their head and/or whole body. They may not be sick, as trembling like this can also be the result of a sudden temperature change. Get your Quaker checked out by a vet if you’re concerned.
Q: Why is my Quaker Parrot biting me?
A: There are a number of reasons that your Quaker is biting you and the action doesn’t necessarily mean that they are being aggressive. Quakers bite when they’re feeling very excited by something, to communicate with you, and because they’re curious. They will also bite when they’re feeling domineering or when they haven’t been trained to know that biting is a negative form of behavior.