So, You Think You Want a Quaker Parrot!!!!!
Howdy, my name's Cookie Grab a Apple or a carrot stick and let's perch awhile.(I'd offer you some coffee, but I'm not allowed to have caffeine---Mom says it's not good for me). Mom has asked me to talk to you about Quaker Parrots, and I can do that. After all, I've devoted many hours to mentoring her and teaching her to be a good slave. Mom says you may be thinking about adopting a Quaker Parrot and she thought you would like to hear from the Quaker's mouth a bit about us. Now everyone has their preferences, and some people prefer to call us Monk Parakeets, but I personally prefer to be referred to as a Quaker Parrot. An even more affectionate term is a Little Green Chicken.
We're small parrots, but what we lack in size we more than make up in personality. There is no way to tell us boys from the girls, just by looking at us (Although there is a theory that head shape *might* be an indicator); To determine our gender you will have to do a blood test on us. Usually this is done by taking a couple of drops of blood from one of our toe nails and sending it to a lab to be tested. An average weight range for us is between 90 and 150 grams, but there is a lot of variation in our species, and some individuals can weigh more (just like with you people types). It is important to not let us become obese, though, because we are somewhat susceptible to FATTY LIVER DISEASE, but, let's not dwell on that here. We typically are about 10 - 12 inches long from head to tail. Now, some of you may have trouble visualizing what size we really are ....... I suppose as a point of reference, we are just a feather-weight larger than a Cockatiel.
Our most common variety is the common green. We have green wings and tail feathers and grey foreheads and breasts. There are also other varieties, however, with the second most common being the Blue. I'm sure Mom will post a picture of a Blue so you can see how pretty they are. Some breeders specialize in trying to produce a reliable strain of mutations, and tremendous work has been done on developing a Yellow Quaker and blue. There are also other mutations hanging around.
We are very intelligent and active little fids (feathered kids), and we are very social creatures. Whereas some other types of fids are content to just hang around as long as they are fed and watered, we demand more attention. It's not that we require twenty-four hour attention, but we do require daily attention and quality time from our slaves (otherwise known as parents or "parronts"). We tend to bond with a special person, whom we consider to be our surrogate mate. We can accommodate to several different human types, but we usually form a special bond with one individual. If you want one of us as an affectionate buddy, you're probably better off having just one of us. If you provide us with a cage mate, we are likely to bond to the mate, instead of to you. And we may get testy and not want you to bother "Us".
We like to have room outside our cage to hang around and play, but we do need supervision because we are curious and playful, and can easily get into trouble, sometimes with tragic results. We are very active and like to have lots of toys on which we can chew, and which we can manipulate. Well now......slow down......they don't have to be expensive and fancy toys, but we do like toys. Homemade toys can be just fine, Thank You!!!
We've been known to express our displeasure when we are upset, and some people say we are noisy. Now, I resent that a bit. We're not really too noisy, and generally as long as our needs are adequately met, our noise level is certainly within acceptable limits. I personally would much rather make human sounds than parrot sounds, and I spend lots of time rehearsing my human language skills. I also have learned some word associations, and am able to vocalize my needs and desires to my parronts. You see, we are excellent talkers, and some people have rated us in the top five of all talking birds for our talking ability. Our vocabulary can reach as high as several hundred human words. Some of us start talking quite young learning to say a few words shortly after being weaned, but probably more typically QPs start talking between six and twelve months of age, some even at a much later date. (My first word was picka boo)
We are also very active and like to receive lots of stimulation......I think that is in part because of our intelligence, but we like to have our brains stimulated, as well as out bodies. We have been known to be somewhat aggressive, but let me tell you the truth from a Quaker's perspective: There are really two reasons we behave aggressively sometimes (and I should emphasize the "sometimes") First, when we are bored or feeling neglected, we are likely to act out a bit and show some aggression. Second, we are territorial and we will defend our nest (which you call a cage); and, We will defend the human with whom we have bonded. Now, does that sound too bad?????? If we are properly socialized, our aggression is not usually a problem.
I suppose if you're considering adopting a Quaker, you're wondering where to go and what to do. Well, it depends on whether you want to adopt a baby or an older bird.
Let's start with babies, ok? First, I really want to stress something very important. Please do not adopt an unweaned baby unless you are very experienced at hand feeding. Some of my cousins have met with tragedy because new parronts with very good intentions thought it would be neat to hand feed their new baby. That is a very DANGEROUS PRACTICE!!!!!! Unfortunately, there are some professional breeders, who in my opinion are very unethical, who try to push unweaned babies onto new parronts primarily because it is time consuming and expensive (cuts into their profits) to hand feed babies.
Baby Quaker Parrots are available from hobbyist breeders, professional breeders, and of course from pet stores. You can locate local breeders through local bird clubs (which are an excellent idea if you're into birds), veterinarians who specialize in birds, classified ads in the local newspaper, and through friends who can personally recommend a breeder.
Here are some colors of Quaker Parrots
I personally think that personal recommendations are very important: Some breeders are much better than others at beginning the socialization process with new babies. Depending on where you live (more on this important topic later), you can expect to pay $100 - $500 for a Green Quaker Parrot. (mom got me for $403. 93)
Blue and Cinnamon Mutations will be substantially more, and the Yellow Mutations would run around $10,000.There are even Albino mutations being developed.
There are also occasionally birds in need of rescue because their parronts can no longer take care of them. You could check the classified ads, check with local vets, or become very familiar with a special organization named the "Quaker Parrot Society - Rescue and Placement Program"( QPS-RAPP). Good homes are needed for displaced birds. But please remember, that there is no such thing as a "Free" bird. These birds maybe being given away, but they will need to be vet checked, and usually have tests run on them, this is not cheap! These birds may not of been given the care they should have, for what ever reason. And they may not be as healthy as they should (this may not be apparent at the time). They may develop serious health issues that will require care. And often they have behavioral issues. Being shuffled from home to home is traumatic, so please be sure if you adopt a "second hand" bird you REALLY intent to give him a "Forever" home.
Ahem........You've been listening to me carry on for quite a while, would you care for some more refreshments? How about a nice broccoli spear or an apple?..........
What equipment do you need?
This is probably the easiest of all the questions. Obviously you will need a cage of some sort, and the larger the better.....we are active birds. You will hear lots of different opinions about cage size, The cage should be a minimum of 24" square, or 18" by 30", somewhere in that range. Now, some people like to buy tall cages and some people like to buy short cages. Extremely tall cages are not really necessary, but they do give us more room to climb around if you puts lots of toys, ropes and ladders in them (which I am sure you will do).
You should be cautious about the material from which the cage is made. The metals in some cages can be toxic to us, especially if they contain zinc or lead Plastic or wooden cages are not preferred because we could easily chew through them. The ideal is to have a heavy powder coated cage or one made from stainless steel. Bar spacing is important part of a cage because we could either slip through an opening which is too wide, or could get our heads caught in the bars and break our necks (a tragedy which has occurred far too often). It should be a maximum of 5/8", and actually 1/2" is probably better. Cages are readily available through mail order, and if you ask Mom, she will gladly give you some ideas about resources. One quick test is to take a quarter and make sure it won't pass between the bars, if it does; PASS on that cage.
Next, we need a playgym for spending time outside our cages. You can buy a cage which has a playgym built onto the top, or my preference is to have a mobile playgym (Mom got me one but i rather be with her on her shoulder then play on it) The playgym should have room for toys and at least two containers for food or water. It should have room for perching, climbing and playing. You can also buy some very nice playgyms, but many people like to make their own. You can make your own excellent playgym which is easy to construct from PVC pipe and branches.
Of course, you need lots and lots of toys of various types, shapes and sizes. We really like toysssssss. We like some to climb on, swing on, chew on, or to just batter around a bit. We like hanging toys, stationary toys, and toys we can hold in our feet and beaks. Let your imagination run wild, just keep safety in mind. They need not be expensive, and many can be home made ---- they must, however, be safe, which in some instances means "substantial." (My favorite toys are rope toys so I can chew and my aol Cd i love to shake it and throw it aroudn the floor, I even mimic the sound it makes.)
(Eating and drinking thos eare my favorite words) Speaking of eating would you like a nutraberry treat? We should never be without water. My preference is to use a water bottle for watering. We sometimes like to play in a bowl, or to drop bits of food into a bowl (making what I like to call "Poop Soup" LOL, and a water bottle is much more sanitary for our drinking purposes. (I love to dip my pellets and make them soggy and then eat them)
Heheheheheh, you know we Quakers can be a little ornery at times, so you will probably be much happier if you provide food dishes which lock down in some fashion. We've been known to make toys out of dishes and to throw them around on occasion. Sometimes when my emotions get the best of me, I will even throw my dish or cup in a fit of anger.
Another thing you might want to consider is a scale, especially if you adopt a baby. Checking baby's weight is important to see if things are going ok.
What do you feed a Quaker Parrot????
AAHHHHHH, now we're to my favorite topic: Food!!!!!! I love to eat, and I love to eat lots of things. The easiest way to know what to feed me is to learn what not to feed me: Under no circumstances should I have chocolate, avocado, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine or certain fruit pits. Salt and sugar should be restricted. The use of dairy products should be restricted because we are lactose intolerant, and we cannot digest lactose. Some aged dairy products can be used, as well as yogurt, but if we eat fresh dairy products we could develop gas and diarrhea (and that's not pleasant). Not only could it make us uncomfortable, but undigested dairy products in our digestive tract creates a medium for the development of bacteria--- YUCK!!!!
My basic diet should be pellets (these are professionally prepared extrusions which look like bits of dry dog food) and fresh fruits and vegetables and all other foods. Do NOT allow me to eat apple seeds, or any type of fruit pits (cherry, peach, apricot) Speaking of seeds, do not feed me a seed based diet, a few seeds are good for me, but too many seeds (especially Sunflower and Safflower) put me at risk of Fatty Liver Disease. Several good pellets are on the market, and most are of sufficient quality, so choose one that is to your liking and one that will have a steady supply for you. We do tend to like some consistency in our diets.
Oh, I forgot......NUTREABERRYAS I love my nutreaberrys treats. More on food visit my recipe page!
Approximately 60% of the daily food consumption may be selected from whole grains and grain products. Common food items include various bird seeds, cooked brown rice, oats and oatmeal, dry corn, barley, wheat and whole grain bread. (Mmm Brown rice and oatmeal is one of my favorite foods)
Vegetables could comprise approximately 10% of the diet; they provide some essential vitamins and minerals needed by birds, but not all. Light-coloured vegetables with very high water content (eg. iceberg lettuce, celery) are the least beneficial. The most valuable vegetables to feed are dark green and leafy or dark yellow.
* those with high vitamin A content are:
broccoli, endive, escarole, carrots, parsley, pumpkin, winter squash and sweet potato. These may be fed raw (more often has a higher nutritional value) or cooked. (brocoli and carrots sure taste good)
Fruits should be offered in limited quantities in order to prevent overconsumption by the bird. The diet should include less than 5% fruits. Most birds do not need outside sources of vitamin C except during periods of illness or high stress, but high vitamin A containing fruits are desirable. These include papaya, cantaloupe and apricots. (Nothing beats Apples, They are my favorite fruits)
Sources of protein
Mature legumes (eg. cooked beans such as soy, navy, kidney, mung, lentils or mature peas) may be offered in amounts up to 25% of the diet and provide a valuable source of protein. High fat containing legumes such as peanuts should be limited. Small amounts of tuna or other fish, beef, chicken or eggs may also be offered. (Eggs is good for you, mom loves to blend eggs with the shell and give it to me, Mmm)
Sources of Calcium
Excessive consumption of milk products by birds is not advised, so the calcium needs must be provided through other means (although birds do enjoy small amounts of yogourt, cottage cheese and hard cheeses). It is generally believed that the greater the consumption of seeds in the diet, the higher the need for supplementary calcium. This is most easily met by mineral supplements in the form of cuttlebone, oyster shell and/or a mineral block. If the bird refuses to eat those items, crushed calcium tablets, liquid or powder can be mixed with other foods.(I dont like yogourt very much but you might see me take little bite)
What do you need to think about before getting us?
First we can live 30 years +/-, be sure we are gonna be wanted that long. We REALLY love our humans and it is a Horrible thing to have to go somewhere else to live because you have changed your mind, Sad... VERY Sad....
Also in some states we are NOT LEGAL!!! So be sure we can live in your state before you adopt. Please ask your breeder and vet.
What is the first thing to do when you adopt a new baby???
The first thing I would suggest is that you take your baby to a GOOD AVIAN veterinarian for a good checkup. It's a good idea to get off on a good foot, and this is an excellent way to not only check your baby out, but to establish a relationship with your vet. A word about vets: (actually several words) Not all vets are created equal!!!!!! Avian Medicine is a specialty and requires special expertise. Find yourself a vet who specializes in the needs of birds. (Mom takes me to the Best Montreal vet clinic called bird and exotic Animal Hospital. They are very nice to me BIG THANKS TO: Dr.Hébert and Bonnie!)
When you bring baby home.
You should have your cage all set up before you bring your baby home. Now, here's where you have to understand us a bit: We do not like change!!!!!!!!!! I'll say it again, We Do Not Like Change!!!! (Although LATER Change is good for us), Coming into your home for the first time is a major change, and we may appear to be a little sluggish or standoffish. Don't worry, make sure we have food and water and put us in our new cage.
What we would probably like you to do is to place the cage nearby, so we can hear and see you as we become accustomed to you and our new home. Talk to us in a soft and reassuring tone of voice, and give us a day or two to settle in. The first day we may feel more secure within the confines of our cage, but then we would probably like to get out on our playgym. Please, resist the temptation to hold us too much the first couple of days, let us get used to you a little at a time. Also, what ever amount of time you devote to us in the first few weeks establishes a pattern, and we will EXPECT you to continue that pattern. So Please don't set us up for disappointment; Don't spend more time playing with us now than you can expect to spend on us later. We need to learn to entertain ourselves, just like a toddler.
Note: Our wings should be clipped. They should have been clipped right after our first flight if not have the vet clip them on our first visit. Mom say to tell you if you have any question about all this you should e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org