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.
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.
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!
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.
A clean and dry vent
Active and playful
Dry nostrils and eyes
The overall look should be normal
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.
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.
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.