The Quaker Parrot (Myiopsitta monachus) is endemic to Central Bolivia and southern Brazil to central Argentina). This parrot got its name from the facial feathering that has a gray bibbed pattern, resembling an old fashioned Quaker costume.
The Quaker Parrot is the ONLY parrot species that builds its own nest made of sticks – rather than nesting in tree cavities, as is typical for parrots.
Quaker parrots don’t only build their own nests using twigs and other plant material, but they link their nests together to form structures akin to “bird condominiums” with individual chambers and separate nest entrances for each pay. These nesting structures can be the size of a small automobile and weigh 200 lbs (91 kg) or more.
Quaker Parrots have a lifespan of 25 – 30 years.
Quaker Parrots are small parrots. They are about the length of a cockatiel, but with bulkier bodies. They measure 11 to 12 inches (28 – 30 cm) in length, including the long tail. Their wingspan is 19 – 20 inches (~48 – 53 cm). They weigh between 3 – 4.9 oz (90 – 139 g).
The upper plumage is green. The face, throat, chest and legs are pale grey. The chest is brownish-grey, each feather edged with pale grey. The upper abdomen is olive-yellow and the lower abdomen, rump, thighs and upper tail-coverts are yellowish-green. The outer webs of flight feathers are blue. The tail upperside is green with a blue down center. The underside is pale green with a greyish-blue base..
The beak is brownish-horn colored; the feet are grey and the eyes are dark brown, with grey eye rings (periophthalmic rings).
Males and females look alike.
Juveniles resemble the adults; but the grey forehead is tinted with green.
Recognized Subspecies, Ranges and IDs
- Myiopsitta monachus monachus (Boddaert, 1783) – the Nominate Race
- Range: Argentina from SE Santiago del Estero Province throughout the Río Salado and lower Paraná basins to Buenos Aires Province and Uruguay
- ID: The largest form. Described above.
- Myiopsitta monachus calita (Boddaert, 1783)
- Range: Andean foothills up to 1,000 m ASL, from southeastern Bolivia (Santa Cruz and Tarija departments) to Paraguay and northwestern Argentina, west of the range of monachus, extending into the lowlands again in Río Negro and possibly Chubut provinces.
- ID: Smaller than the nominate form. The wings are more prominently blue and the head is a darker grey with no blue tint to forecrown. The lower belly is washed with blue.
- Myiopsitta monachus cotorra (Finsch, 1868)
- Range: SW Brazil (Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, possibly Rio Grande do Sul throughout the Río Paraguay and middle Paraná basins as well as the Gran Chaco.
- ID: Resembles the calida subspecies, but the upper plumage is a brighter green and there is less yellow on the belly.
- Cliff Parakeet, Myiopsitta (monachus) luchsi (Boddaert, 1783) – Possibly a distinct species
- Range: Andean valleys of central Bolivia between 1,000/1,300 and 3,000 m ASL, roughly from southeastern La Paz to northern Chuquisaca departments.
- ID: The forehead and forecrown of adults is completely pale grey. The chest is grey.
- Different nesting strategies also support the theory that this may be a separate species. Rather than building stick nests, the Cliff Parakeet nests in cliff crevices, hence its name. They also don’t build communal nests, as is typical of the other races.
Quaker Parrots somewhat resemble the closely-related introduced parakeets; however, both of which are smaller and have green faces and chests; as well as an obvious yellow band on the outer surfaces of the wings: These species could only be confused by casual observers.
- White-winged Parakeet – formerly Canary-winged Parakeet (Brotogeris versicolurus)
- Yellow-chevroned Parakeets (Brotogeris chiriri)
Distribution / Range
Native to, and generally common, in northeast Argentina where it occurs in the provinces of Entre Rios, Santa Fe, Cordoba and Buenos Aires; Bolivia; southern Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul); Paraguay; and Uruguay in South America.
Historically, this is a woodland species, but has adapted well to urban areas.
Feral Populations exist worldwide
Alternate (Global) Names
Catalan: Cotorra de cap gris, Cotorra de cap gris, Cotorreta de pit gris … Chinese: ???? … Czech: Papoušek mniší … Danish: Munkeparakit … Dutch: Monniksparkiet … German: Mönchsittich, Mönchssittich, Südamerikanischer Mönchsittich … Spanish: Cata Aliazul, Cotorra, Cotorra Argentina, Cotorra Común, Cotorrita, Perico Monje … Estonian: munkpapagoi … Basque: Cotorreta de pit gris … Finnish: Munkkiaratti … French: Conure veuve, perruche moine, perruche souris … Irish: Pearaicít ghlas … Galician: Cata, Cotorreta de pit gris … Guarani: Tu’î karanda’y … Hebrew: ???? ????? … Icelandic: Munkpáfi … Italian: Parrocchetto monaco, Parrocchetto monaco del Sudamerica … Japanese: okinainko … Lithuanian: Kalita … Norwegian: Munkeparakitt … Polish: Mnicha nizinna … Portuguese: catorra, catorrita, Caturrita, papo-branco, periquito-do-Pantanal … Russian: ??????, ???????-????? … Slovak: Klinochvost mníší, mních zelený … Swedish: Munkparakit … Turkish: Ke?i? Papa?an?
Calls / Vocalizations
Their voices consists of shrill screeches, squawks made in flight or when perched; and loud chatters while feeding. These social parrots are usually quite noisy and in urban areas in particular can be considered a huge nuisance, as they form large, noisy flocks that can be heard for great distances.
Pet Quakers can irritate their human companions with their loud voices. So they are not recommended for those that are sensitive to noise. Quaker are, however, talented at mimicking human speech and other noises they hear in their environment.
Nesting / Breeding
Quaker Parrots often breed in colonies, building single large nests wth separate entrances for each pair. The nests are constructed out of sticks situated in trees or on man-made structures, such as radio towers, light poles and electrical utility poles. The exception is the Cliff Parakeets which nests in cliff crevices.
The average clutch consists of 5 – 12 white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for about 24 days.
Quaker Parakeet pairs may have “helper birds” that assist with feeding the chicks – often they are their grown offspring.
The following overview and table has been provided by Dr. Rob Marshall:
The Quaker Parrot, also known as the Monk Parrot, originates from South America. In the wild, these birds exist in large colonies with complex social structures.
They have an unusual ability to use twigs and pliable branches to build large, communal nests in which all members of the colony may breed. As a result of this rich social structure, the Quaker Parrot is a highly social, friendly and energetic bird and makes a wonderful pet.
|Quaker (Monk) Parrot|
|Size: 30 cm / 12 inches in length|
|Weight: 90 to 150 grams (avg. 110 to 120)|
|Pet Status: Excellent|
|Talking Ability: Excellent|
|Noise Level: Low – Moderate|
|Lifespan: 25-30 years|
|Breeding Ability: Excellent|
|Number of Eggs: 4-8 eggs|
|Incubation: 24-28 days|
|Compatibility with other species: Not Advised|
|Feeding: Seed and Fruit Eaters|
|Sexing: Surgical or DNA sexing is required. Females are generally larger than males.|
They are playful, cheeky and inquisitive and make excellent talkers. The voice of the Quaker Parrot has a distinct croaky/clicking sound and raspy chattering is frequently heard from these birds. Socialisation and interaction form an important part of the Quaker Parrots daily routine. This positive training approach should be used to overcome the domineering behaviour that some Quaker parrots may exhibit. They should not be confined to the cage as this may lead to behavioural problems. Physically, the Quaker Parrot is a hardy bird and is able to tolerate cold temperatures well.
Quaker Parrots as Pets
Quakers are active, inquisitive, mischievous, intelligent, playful, and engaging parrots. Their antics are a constant delight to their owners. They are completely devoted, bonding closely with their human owners. Purchasing a handfed, well-socialized baby is a good way to obtain a parrot with great pet potential, although with love and patience, most parrots can become great pets. Quakers are exceptionally hardy birds. They can live to be 25 to 30 years of age.
Quakers love their toys and will approach a newly introduced toy much sooner than the average bird.
- However, they do become bored with them more quickly than most birds – therefore, a frequent change is recommended. Most parrot owners rotate toys frequently.
They are strong chewers and can rapidly demolish even rigid items — which must be kept in mind for their safety. Keeping Quakers entertained will keep their minds off inappropriate activities.
- Please refer to the following websites for tips and tricks to entertain them and reduce their chewing: Environmental Changes …. Bird Proofing Your Home …. Foraging stops destructive behaviors … Also refer to: Redirecting Negative Behaviors in your Petbird
They are also very “mechanically inclined” – being able to figure out most cage locks in no time, and disassembling toys with ease. Many pet owners describe how their pets industriously build nests placed around the house using shredded paper, pencils, tooth picks, or any material that they can find. Some single Quakers don’t actually build nests, but, enjoy weaving various materials through the bars of their cages.
Quaker Parakeets are usually very vocal and capable talkers. Many Quakers sing songs and pick up extensive vocabularies. Most Quakers learn to talk at about six months. They speak quite clearly and use their skills most appropriately. They can entertain themselves for hours chirping, whistling and practicing human vocalizations. The opinions as to how noisy they are as pets vary — some consider them very noisy, while others describe them as moderately noisy and might even enjoy their chattering. The rule, however, is that they will be noisier if other parrots are around, as they like to “hold long (and noisy) conversations” with them. The Quakers also acquire modeled loud sounds, such as barking, screaming and the chronic coughing of a human.
- Owners often make the mistake of reinforcing undesirable sounds; the best response to inappropriate sounds, in most cases, is to ignore them, not by rewarding them with a reaction, such as shouting.
- Training and good role modeling can help reduce the noises these parrots make. Teaching him or her to talk will also divert their vocalizations.
Quakers are notorious for being cage possessive. They could severely injure, or even kill, a bird that enters their cage uninvited. So it’s important to make sure that they are not placed together with other birds into the same cage until they have had time to bond with their prospective cage mate.
The Quaker Parakeets respond well to training. If these parrots are neglected, they can develop behavioral problems, such as screaming and aggressive behavior.
- Training, appropriate care, a stimulating environment and daily interaction is required to ensure the well-being of this intelligent parrot – and the successful integration into its human family.
- Also refer to: Redirecting Negative Behaviors in your Petbird for some excellent tips and tricks.
Training and Behavioral Guidance:
The Quaker Parakeets can develop behavioral issues, especially the following:
- Excessive Chewing: Quaker Parrots are strong chewers and can rapidly demolish even rigid items.
- Biting: Quakers that are ignored and not properly socialized can become nippy.
- The “Noise” Factor: They can entertain themselves for hours chirping, whistling and practicing human vocalizations. The opinions as to how noisy they are as pets vary — some consider them very noisy, while others describe them as moderately noisy and might even enjoy their chattering. The rule, however, is that they will be noisier if other parrots are around, as they like to “hold long (and noisy) conversations” with them. The Quakers also acquire modeled loud sounds, such as barking, screaming and the chronic coughing of a human.Owners often make the mistake of reinforcing undesirable sounds; the best response to inappropriate sounds, in most cases, is to ignore them, not by rewarding them with a reaction, such as shouting.
Training and behavioral guidance will help your pet be the kind of companion you want it to be …
- AvianWeb Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him.
- Please visit the following website to learn more about parrot behavior and training.
Potential Health Problems
Quakers are usually pretty hardy — although can be afflicted with Fatty Liver Disease, which is mostly caused by all-seed diets that many well-meaning, but uninformed, owners provide them with. They should not be allowed to become overweight.
Feather plucking, and in some instances even self-mutilation (aka Quaker Mutilation Syndrome or QMS) are health problems that Quakers can develop. Purchasing a healthy, well-socialized parrot, and providing it with appropriate care and a stimulating and loving environment will be the best way to prevent these health issues. Once your bird has developed these health problems, an examination by an avian vet is strongly recommended.
Unites States Laws Regulating the Ownership and Sale of Quaker Parrots:
Quaker parakeets are considered agricultural pests as they eat crop and build their nests in electrical installations.
- They are illegal to own or to sell in California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Hawaii, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wyoming.
- They are legal to own, but illegal to sell or breed in Connecticut.
- They are legal to own with registration and banding in New York.
- They are legal to own with breeder or seller registration in Virginia.
- Ownership is not prohibited but discouraged in: Quaker Parrots are prohibited as pets as the yare considered a “wild animal”. Breeding allowed with breeder’s license, if bred for wholesale exportation. Transport across state lines is legal; no notice required if travel through Georgia is less than 24 hours duration.
- For additional / or up-to-date information, please contact your local USDA Fish and Wildlife Office (www.usda.gov)