Quaker Parrot, also known by other names like Monk Parakeet and Quaker Parakeet, is an extremely intelligent species of social parrot originating from the Argentinian temperate to subtropical areas, as also the surrounding countries. Feral quaker parrots are also found scattered in many places in the wild, including Europe, North America and some parts of Asia. These parrots, taxonomically, are the only member of the genus Myiopsitta. Quaker parrots are talking birds. They are widely kept as pets.
Size: These birds usually measure between 11 and 12 inches (28 – 30 cm), and with a wingspan, they are around 19-20 inches (48 – 51 cm approx), and are almost the size of a common pigeon, but much stockier.
Weight: These birds weigh around 90-150 gm (3 – 4.9 oz), average being 110-120 gm.
Feather and Color: Quaker parrots have a very gorgeous plumage in contrast with green. The chest of these birds is brownish grey, with each of the feathers having a pale grey border. The upper part of the abdomen is olive yellow, while the lower abdominal region, the thighs, the rump and the upper tail coverts are yellowish green in color. The flight feather tips are bright blue. The upper side of the tail is green combined with blue in the center. The underside is faded green with a base in grey-blue. The commonest color variation is pale blue (in place of green) with a grey underside. Occasionally, all yellow quakers and albino parrots are also found at times.
Tail: They have a long tail, gradually tapering at the tip.
Bill: The color of the beak is brownish to orange.
Feet: The foot color of these birds is grey.
Eyes: These parrots have dark brown eyes, with grey periophthalmic rings (eye rings).
Quaker Parrot Images
There are four recognized subspecies of quaker parrots:
Myiopsitta monachus monachus (Boddaert, 1783) – This is the largest subspecies of these parrots, found mostly in different parts of Argentina.
Myiopsitta (monachus) luchsi (Boddaert, 1783) – These are commonly called cliff parakeets, having a plumage much clearer, with the underparts having a brighter yellow hue and lighter underwings, base of maxilla dark and without scalloping on breast. They are found in the different regions of the Andean valleys of central Bolivia.
Myiopsitta monachus calita (Boddaert, 1783) – The individuals of this species is smaller than monachus, with wings more distinctly blue, and the grey part of the head darker. Found in different altitudes of the Andean down to Río Negro.
Myiopsitta monachus cotorra (Finsch, 1868) – The yellow tone of these parakeets is fader below, but they are brighter overall. They are stretched from the SW Brazil to many regions of Río Paraguay, middle Paraná basins and the Gran Chaco.
In the wild, the quaker parrots are mainly found in the suburban yards, city parks and semi-open country. Despite originating from the regions of tropical climate, these birds are quite able to adapt themselves to even extremely cold climatic conditions.
Quaker parrots originated from the South America, including Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Argentina and parts of Brazil, but are now found in abundance as an introduced species in North America. They have been spotted in the U.S. States like Virginia, Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, and New York.
Flying Quaker Parrot
Quaker Parrot Flying
Unlike many northern hemisphere birds, quaker parrots do not migrate long distances overseas. Rather, these birds engage in semi-migratory behavior. When the monsoonal rains replenish water sources, these birds fly to new areas within their own continent, or to where the best source of food is.
What do Quaker Parrots Eat
In one word, the main diet of these birds includes fruits and seeds. In the warm summer months, the quakers feed upon berries, fruits, plant buds and weeds, while searching for food in groups of 2-55 birds. Between December and February, the coldest months, these creatures exclusively feed on bird seed at backyard feeders.
Quaker Parrot Eating
The quaker parrots have a distinctive feature exclusive to them – the quaking and shaking. These parakeets move up and down repeatedly and quake in a manner which seems to be quite disturbing and abnormal. However, this is a natural behavior to these birds. These parakeets are typically social beings that appreciate the company of other quakers and humans, and can even become neurotic and depressed, if left alone frequently. If introduced at an early stage, a pair of these parrots will bond. Also, they won’t lose the bonding to their owners if given a lot of close interaction and included in family life.
Sounds and Calls
Quaker parrots are talkative, noisy creatures, both as pets and in wild. They can pick up words and phrases very easily, especially if kept single and tamed at an early age. As pets, these birds can even wake up the owner from sleep by their sharp, high-pitch calls, and can even disturb the neighbors. These birds screeches ‘skveet’, and their call sounds like a loud and throaty chape(-yee) or quak quaki quak-wi quarr.
Quakers are mostly feral birds living in flocks, in the greens. Hence, they are mostly found in shades of green probably as a weapon for camouflage. They have an excellent ability of talking and imitating. This in turn has given them the ability to mingle, get training and socialize more with their human owners.
Quaker parrots don’t have any specific potential predators. However, some species of eagles might pose a threat to their nests in the wild. For the pet parrots, mainly cats can prove harmful or fatal to these birds.
The average lifespan of quaker parrots has been recorded to be between 20 and 30 years both in captivity and in the wild.
Nesting and Breeding
Quaker parrots are the only parrot species which is known to build their nests easily and are prolific breeders both even in captivity and in the wild. These parrots build their nests mostly from twigs and vines. They are unique among the members of the parrot species in their construction of their communal nests.
Quaker Parrot Nest
Quaker Parrot Nest Pictures
The nests are large, free-standing and elaborate. These parrots do not like building their nests in trees, but into the side of cliffs. Other than in man-made buildings and constructions, unfortunately, the quakers also prefer building nests on electrical poles, especially those that contain electric transformers generating heat, and thus, posing a fire hazard.
Baby Quaker Parrots
The nests have many doorways, and multiple pairs of quakers can live in one single nest. The nests weigh in excess of 200 pounds, and might have rooms for more than 40 birds.
Quaker Parrots Baby
They attain the age of sexual maturity usually at the age of two years. On an average, the size of the clutch is four to eight eggs. As the hatchlings are around four weeks old, the second clutch usually starts. The rate of mortality of the babies is usually around 50% or more. Hence, with each breeding cycle, only one or two offspring are expected to reach the state of full maturation.
Quaker parrots make great pets for their charming, comical personalities, and are one of the most common pet birds around the world. However, these birds are illegal to be owned, sold, or both, in some US states.
Quaker Parrot as Pets
Quaker Parrot Care
Choosing a Birdcage: Quaker parrots are active by nature. So, they need cages, which are roomy and spacious. However, care must be taken to make sure that, there is little space between the bars, so that the birds don’t get their heads caught in between.
Diet: Quakers are extremely good eaters.It is advisable not to give the same food to the quaker parrots day after day, or else, they will get bored of it. The main ingredients of the parrots’ food should be vegetables, fruits, legumes, pasta and healthy pellets.
Vet Care: The owner should take their parrots to the veterinary doctor to get yearly checks done and also to learn how to clip the quakers’ wings. The owner must find a vet experienced in parrots and which are open for emergency cases at night. A sick quaker parrot should immediately be taken to the vet.
Training: These birds have a curious and fearless personality. So the owners must know how to tame their quaker parrots. They must be trained to recognize and stay away from objects of danger like dogs and cats. The owner can also train their quaker parrots by teaching them bird tricks, playing with parrot toys and exercise equipments, and even convincing the creatures to accept a bird harness. This should help the owner to carry the pets to places, as also to do many other enjoyable things. Owners can even utilize the talking ability of quaker parrots by teaching them words, and how to make their quaker parrots engage in talking and laughing. (Check out the Quaker Parrot Video below.)
Compatibility with other species: It is not advisable to keep quaker parrots in the same cage along with other bird species.
Nest Box of Quaker Parrot
Quaker Parrot Nest Box
Diseases and Health Conditions
The commonest form of health problem with these parrots is plucking out feathers, or feather destructive behaviors. Fatty liver disease is also a common problem to these birds. This can happen if their diet is mainly restricted to nuts and seeds. To avoid this, they need a mixture of varied diets, as discussed above.
Quaker parrot has been listed by the IUCN 3.1 as “Least Concern”.
Both the male and the female of the species look alike, although, females are said to be around 10-20% smaller. But the sex of the parrots can only be reliably judged by DNA or feather testing.
These birds love to keep things they love or find interesting, specially belonging to their owners. So, if things like pens, glasses etc. are lost, the owner might end up finding them in the pet bird’s nest.
Wild quaker parrots are quite friendly with other species of animals and their neighbors. Even squirrels have been seen to be living in quakers’ nests.