My Favorites – The Quakers


Many parrot species have made their homes in our aviaries throughout the years. I’m always falling in love with a new kind, but my Quakers have never been challenged as my all-time favorite. We still have one of our first hand-fed Quaker babies in our family room, and he is extremely adorable. His capacity to communicate matches that of our African Gray. He is a cheerful, charming young bird, always willing to play or sleep upside down in my palm, smiling and chatting the whole time. Fortunately, since Quakers live for 25 to 30 years, my grandkids will be able to love this little guy as much as my children did.

SPECIES

Monk Parakeets, Gray Breasted Parakeets, and Green Parakeets are other names for Quakers. Myiopsitta is the genus name, and there are four known subspecies. The primary distinctions between them are variances in size and variations in color intensity.

The most common species, M. Monachus Monachus, is a medium-sized bird that is around eleven to twelve inches in length. The bird’s upper body is nearly all green, with medium green on the back and brighter green on the wings and tail. Grey lores, cheeks, and neck blend into light gray, white tipped breast feathers that blend into a grayish, olive green lower belly. The feather edges on the breast are particularly clear, lending a scaled aspect to the grey region. The thighs and underarms have a golden suffusion. The flying feathers are blue with a black border. The underwing coverts have a light gray or blue color. The tail is long and thin, green with a hint of blue.

The bill is horny, and the eyes are brown. The young birds lack a strong green hue, have a dull green head, and their flights are more green than blue. This species’ natural range extends from extreme south eastern Brazil to Uruguay to north eastern Argentina.

M. Monachus Luchsi – the Bolivian Gray Breasted Parakeet resembles M. Monachus Monachus except for a very light gray, nearly white, forehead and fore crown. The breast is a uniform light gray color with no scales. The upper abdomen is a brighter yellow, and the primary’ outer webs are a light blue without the green edges. The tail is dark green on top and grayish blue on the bottom, with blue down the center of each feather. The bird is smaller and thinner overall, with a more pointed beak. It can only be found in central Bolivia, in the Cochabamba Province.

M. Monachus Callita – the Mendoza Gray Breasted Parakeet is a smaller bird with a smaller beak than M. Monachus Monachus. The breasts are whiter, and the abdomen is paler. The gray on the skull is darker. This species is found in the provinces of La Rioja, Mendoza, and San Luis in western Argentina.

M. Monachus Cotorra – the Paraguayan Gray Breasted is similar to the Callita but has a brighter green underparts and a less yellow abdomen. This species is endemic to southern Bolivia, Argentina, and sections of Paraguay.

MUTATIONS

The Lutino Quaker is an exceedingly uncommon yellow mutation. Before World War II, the first instance of this mutation happened at the Berlin Zoo. Even in Europe, to the best of my knowledge, they are not readily accessible. These birds are bright yellow with a grayish white forehead and underparts. The flying feathers are grey, while the tail underside is a bluish green. The bill is pinkish brown in color.

Although not as uncommon as the yellow mutation and more common in aviculture, the blue mutation is nonetheless difficult to locate and costly. Most blue Quakers are descended from birds produced in the 1950s by M. J. Bruyneel of Steenokkerzeel in Belgium. They are one of the most attractive Quaker modifications. Their blue is best characterized as a powdered soft Wedgwood. Silvery gray on the cheeks, neck, and breast. The top of the head and the bottom of the rump are a stunning vivid turquoise blue. The bill is light orange with a horn tint.

A Pied mutation has lately been seen in various aviaries, although it is not well established in aviculture. It is passed down as a simple recessive characteristic. Green feathers are intermingled with yellow in these birds, but the other traits remain the same as in typical green.

Several Albinos have been claimed to have been bred in Cuban aviaries, and Cinnamons have been produced in our nation. The Cinnamon is a bright green with cinnamon on the wings and tail. The inheritance is sex dependent.

All of the hues observed in Budgies – violet, cobalt blue, gray – are theoretically conceivable to make in Quakers. Many committed Quaker breeders are inspired by the thrilling potential of a whole new mutation.

NESTING IN THE WILD

Quakers are the only nest-building parrots known to science. Some love birds use twigs to line their nest cavities, while Quakers construct the whole nest construction from of twigs and short branches. They are incredibly social, and whole colonies will collaborate on this action.

The nests are constructed quite high, near the tips of a tall tree’s topmost branches. The birds build on the nest all year, roosting in it at night and using it for breeding.

The nest’s structure is really remarkable. Each couple of birds constructs their own independent room inside the main nest construction, much like an apartment building. Each chamber is divided into two sections: an interior “living-bedroom” space and a “front porch.” When incubating eggs and feeding chicks, the parent birds spend a lot of time on the front porch, keeping an eye out for danger and defending the nest’s valuable contents.

They lay their eggs and incubate them in the rear bedroom, and the chicks are brought into the living room area as they get bigger. Then more eggs are deposited in the bedroom.

The parents repeatedly repair and extend the nest as the offspring grow in size, until it becomes enormous. Some have been discovered that weigh a quarter ton.

AVAILABILITY

Quakers were introduced into this nation in large numbers until new regulations prevented their admission. Almost majority of those accessible are now domestically bred and closed banded. Because they are so prolific and robust, they are still one of the finest buys in the pet store. A young, hand fed bird may generally be obtained around $150, depending on the time of year and local availability. The more unusual variants are far more costly and are not widely accessible.

PERSONALITY

Quakers are upbeat, lively, and happy birds. They are naturally quite talkative, quickly taking up the words and phrases that they often hear. They like whistles and will work hard to master brief songs, obtaining an outstanding imitation of either the good or terrible tones given to them. Even while being hand fed, my baby Quakers will copy sentences such as “Umm, umm good!” or “Want some?” that I repeat when feeding them.

Some Quakers form unusually deep bonds with one person and are said to be snappy and hostile to others. This has not been my experience or the experience of the numerous owners I have spoken with. As with other birds, personalities differ within the species. There will always be exceptions to the overall norm.

Quakers are not dimorphic, which means that male and female plumage do not differ much. Although some informed estimates are correct, surgical sexing or other newly established scientific technologies are the only reliable ways to determine the sex of the bird. The sex is unimportant unless they are to be utilized for breeding. Males and females are equally excellent talkers and make equally nice pets.

CAGING

A minimum cage size of 18″ x 18″ x 18″ is required for the pet Quaker. If the cage is just utilized as a place of refuge, such as a sleeping area and a feeding station, this minimal size is sufficient. If the bird is to be kept to its cage for extended periods of time, its space needs will be increased. The lively Quaker need space to move about without colliding with perches or the many toys they like. In various positions in the cage, the bird should be able to completely extend and flap its wings without obstruction. It should not be compelled to perch in the precise center of the cage so that its tail does not rub against the bars, nor should it be restricted to spreading just one wing at a time. When making a decision, greater is usually better. The cage can never be too big for the bird; it can only be too big for the owner’s house.

Quakers are incredibly clean birds, and they all take a daily wash before meticulously preening each feather. In addition to the standard water and feed cups, they should be given with a small dish of water for their daily wash to maintain their plumage bright and smooth.

DIET

Because of their inquisitive curiosity and love of food, Quakers will happily take practically any meal you provide. The cornerstone of their diet is a reputable brand of pelleted food. We believe that this ensures that each bit of food they ingest has an adequate mix of nutrients. There is no picking and selecting of preferred seeds with the risk of discarding an essential portion of their diet with the uneaten food.

We only provide additional meals as infrequent treats. Only feeding parents get regular soft food feedings to help them with the tough work of stuffing all those hungry small mouths. All Quakers like eating, and it is difficult to refrain from overindulging in pet goodies. We absolutely prohibit the administration of sweets, salty meals, or caffeine-containing beverages. They are equally fond of veggies, fruits, and a smidgeon of leftover corn muffin. They will appreciate a slice of whole wheat bread as much as the cookie they longed for, and will be happier for the healthier decision.

CARE OF WINGS AND NAILS

It is critical to keep your Quaker’s wings trimmed. As the feathers grow out, keep an eye on them. They must be safeguarded from the potentially deadly consequences of flying into windows, mirrors, or, worst of all, a ceiling fan. Unlike many other species, wings should not be trimmed too short and just six to eight flying feathers should be removed. They are small, stocky birds that need some lift from their wings to avoid falling to the ground, but not enough to take off in free flight.

Toe nails, like those of other birds, must be cut at regular intervals. We’ve discovered that offering perches with a rough surface, such as natural branches with the bark still on them or the cement perches that are now available, helps to keep this task to a minimum. Most cages come with plastic perches that are all the same diameter. Replacing them with perches of varied thicknesses also helps the bird’s feet and legs get some exercise.

BREEDING QUAKERS

Quakers are a wonderful alternative for newcomers. The initial expenditure required to begin the enterprise is far cheaper than that required for many other related species. They are very resilient birds that can survive temperature variations. The resale market for them has remained consistent throughout the years. It seems that no matter what the economic situation is, the Quakers can always be sold.

Breeding season happens twice a year in Florida. Our birds are most abundant in late summer and early winter. A clutch of four to eight eggs is typical, with a second clutch beginning when the kids are approximately a month old. Around two years of age, young birds are normally ready to reproduce. Quakers are nearly always dedicated parents, sitting diligently on the eggs and filling their chicks’ crops with food. At around three weeks, we remove the chicks for hand feeding.

Because Quakers are powerful chewers, breeding cages must be made of at least sixteen gauge wire. We maintain our pairings in cages that are 24 x 24 x 48 inches long. We supply them with a twelve inch cube cockatiel nest box in the protected end of the cage, towards the top. We install a twelve-inch-wide shelf adjacent to the nest box to help them with their nest-building operations. They quickly began building a complicated nest out of straw, twigs, vines, and other similar things, utilizing both the box and the shelf for support. We raise cherry tomato vines specifically for the Quakers; their fibrous branches are ideal for nest construction, and they like eating the tomatoes as well. They are continually altering and mending the nest, even while feeding their babies.

I’ve had Quakers nest in a Cockatiel nest box with simply pine shavings added. Some people are so desperate to reproduce that they will reproduce practically everywhere.

You can’t deny them the resources they need when you see how happy they are pursuing their natural nest-building instincts.

The newborns are coated with a silky, light yellow down. Even at birth, they are plump tiny birds. Their lower mandibles act as little scoops, making hand feeding them an easy chore. They have a unique begging posture, jumping up and down, flapping their wings, and stretching the head and neck up as far as possible. For the novice starting hand feeding there is no better species to practice on.

The chicks are usually weaned by eight weeks. If not hand fed they fledge at six to eight weeks. Their natural curiosity and unfailingly good appetites make weaning a comparatively easy process. Spray millet, cooked corn, whole wheat bread, and even the pelleted food are readily tried and eaten in small amounts at an early age. Hand feeding needs to be continued only until you are assured that they are eating in sufficiently large amounts.

There are some negatives to be considered before starting a breeding program with Quakers. Kept singly, as pets, they do a great deal of chattering and whistling, but the amount of noise they generate can in no way be rated as objectionable. When kept in flocks, or in groups of adjoining breeding cages, they become very noisy. If space permits sufficient isolation from your home and neighbors to mute the loud, shrill chattering this need not be a concern. It is wise to take the expected volume of noise into consideration when making your plans.

There are some states which forbid either the sale or possession of the Quakers. California, Georgia, and New Jersey have these laws and others may need to be added to the list. The reason for these arbitrary regulations is that in the past free flying groups of the birds have rapidly reproduced and formed large flocks which descend on orchards and farm lands, destroying crops.

BREEDING MUTATIONS

My only experience with mutations has been with breeding the blues. About six years ago I was fortunate enough to obtain two pairs. Although these lovely birds are not as prolific as the normal greens and not quite as hardy, I am very happy with the success of my breeding program with them.

The blue mutation is a simple recessive. In order to produce visually blue birds in the first generation, you must have blue in both parents, either visually or as a split. A split bird is one who is visually green but carries the recessive gene for blue.

The best matings to produce blue Quakers consist of one blue bird paired with a green split to blue bird. Most of the chicks resulting from this mating will be visually blue, with any visually greens being split to blue. Breeding a visual blue to a normal green will result in all green split to blue chicks. Breeding a green split to blue to another green split to blue will produce 25% visual blues,50% green split to blues, and25% normal greens. There is no way to identify which of the greens are split to blue except by the results of subsequent breeding. Surprises, either happy or disappointing, are not unusual.

Our original blue quakers were bred to our best normal greens to obtain strong, healthy splits. After several generations of carefully controlled breeding, we are producing beautiful visual blues and large, sturdy greens split to blue. Birds are all individually cage bred to insure the accuracy of their pedigrees.

The blue chicks are born with down more white than the pale yellow of the normals. The final decision as to their color cannot be made until pin feathers start to appear at about 21 days. I delight in spotting the emergence of the little blue tail feathers, eagerly counting the number of visual blues I have been lucky enough to produce.

The blue babies are just as easy to hand feed and just as quick to wean. They show no marked differences in personalities, are just as vocal, and just as endearing as pets. As adults, their powdery delicate blue and soft silvery gray plumage makes them strikingly beautiful. They are superior to their normal green relatives only in this respect.

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