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    Quaker Parrots: Care and Training

    ArticleParrot AdviceThursday 23 February 2012
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    Quaker Parrots

    The difference in their nesting habits and breeding from other avian species are quite remarkable. The average Quaker parrot's life span and markings are ordinary. In making a decision on getting a Quaker parrot, read several different books about their species. The level of intelligence they can achieve is astounding, and can be quite entertaining.
     
    The behavior and personality development of your Quaker parrot will rely on how it is raised and trained by you. Depending on how you respond to your Quaker parrot, communication might be music, or mayhem, to your ears. Most problems with Quaker parrots begin when they are young. However, with the proper guidance and training, the bad habits can be broken. Unlike other pets, a Quaker parrot requires daily care to ensure proper health. A balanced diet of fresh  food and vitamins is a necessity to ensure a healthy pet.
     
    Dealing with the psychological health of a Quaker parrot is something that cannot be ignored; otherwise, it can lead to costly health problems. In the wild, nature provides natural sanitation for Quaker parrots, but while in captivity, a Quaker relies on you to be Mother Nature. 
     
    The scientific name for Quaker Parrots is Myiopsitta monachus, and it is also known as a Monk Parakeet. The Quaker Parrot is the most sociable in the avian world and has distinguishing trademarks in their nesting habits from other species. This is the only breed that does not require a pre-existing cavity for their nest and the nest is made from twigs. The largest nest that has been reported so far has been 2723lb(1235kg).
     
    Quakers build their nests from scratch each year, living in a communal type setting, and make separate compartments and entrances for each pair of Quakers. Since the Quaker parrots build such large nests and are very protective of their individual chamber, the breeding habits are not completely understood. The general consensus is that they have from 5 to 7 eggs each year. The incubation time lasts 25 days with fledglings starting to appear in about 50 days. 
     
    On the average, a Quaker Parrots lifespan is 25-30 years, unlike that of the larger parrots that can have up to 100-year lifespans. The basic markings on a Quaker Parrot are an overall green plumage, with gray being found on the forehead, on the neck, which extends only to behind the eye, and on the chest, this also has a ripple effect to it. The wings have traces of blue coloring, and the tail feathers have the same green aspects as the plumage with a lighter green underneath. The eyes are a dark brown, and the bill is horn colored.
     
    There are several mutations, but they are not commonly available. Males and females are not distinguishable by their physical appearance. The only way to determine the sex is by DNA testing or surgical sexing. 
    Certain things should be carefully thought about before purchasing a parrot. Ask yourself these questions:
     
    Why a parrot? Is it for companionship, for the children, or a hobby? Think about the following aspects to answer these questions. What is the initial cost of a Quaker Parrot? What feeding and housing requirements are needed? How much time and attention does a Quaker Parrot need? How much noise does the Quaker make and will it be at a tolerated level? Once these questions are acknowledged and answered then you can move on to bringing home a new family member. 
     
    Quaker Parrots are intelligent, comical and engaging birds. Their personality is quite charming and can provide great  companionship. Quaker parrots can develop to an intelligence level of a 3-5 year old child.
     
    Most Quakers will prove to be as talented as Houdini was, so make sure that the cage can retain them safely. I know that my Quaker, Chucky, proved this real quick. I had been keeping his cage doors shut with clothespins and he figured out how to pop them off. Then he would climb onto his cage and start his laughing, as if to mock me, and say "Ha, Ha, Ha, I figured out how to get out." I finally had to use pieces of thick wire to keep him in his cage. Sometimes, I don't think he's learning anything that I have said to him, and without warning he breaks the silence by mimicking all the words and phrases one after the other. Then he starts his little laugh, and I can't help but laugh with him. This comical side comes out mostly at night, after Chucky's been put to bed. 
     
    Behavior of the Quaker will only be as good as the trainer. In wild flocks, birds establish a "pecking order." There is usually a "boss" bird, which the rest of the flock recognizes as the head honcho. He takes the highest perch and also gets the best morsels of food. In training a Quaker, establish early on that you are the boss. Just like a child, a Quaker will test you. Set the rules early and be consistent in your responses to different challenges. Keep your eye level above his and this will reinforce that you are the dominant figure.
     
    Parrots should be taught to respond to commands early so that bad habits do not develop. Sally Blanchard has devised a set of 4 basic commands that all parrots should be taught. These commands are: 
     
            1.Up --  tells the bird to step on a human hand now.  
            2.Down --  tells the bird to step on an object other than a hand now.  
            3.No --  tells the bird to stop the behavior it is doing.  
            4.OK --  tells the bird that its behavior is allowed. 1
     
    When a bird is trained to a command, it will always obey the command. If the bird obeys sporadically then the bird is not trained to the command. "Up" and "Down" are the most commonly used commands and should be obeyed without hesitation. "No" is the least effective and the hardest to train. "OK" is to take control away from the bird. To help establish control, always be consistent with your responses. Quakers will re-test rules from time to time, therefore, give them the same positive response each time and this will encourage the positive response, instead of a negative response. 
     
    Quaker Parrots can be a clamorous bunch and they love to chatter. When you hear birds out in the wild and they are having a conversation is it "The Sound of Music" or "Torture Alley". If it were the latter of the two, my advice would be "Don't get a Quaker Parrot." Quakers communicate verbally in the wild and in captivity just the same, LOUDLY. Whether it is repeating what you have said, or mimicking the family dog, it is communicating. Parrots repeat what appeals to them and can mimic a variety of sounds. Many parrot owners have been fooled by the ringing telephone, the sound of the doorbell, and the microwave beeping. 
     
    The parrot often repeats words spoken with great emphasis such as expletives, after hearing the phrase only once. With that in mind, remember NEVER say anything in front of your parrot that you do not want repeated! Again, training is a big part of how your Quaker will respond to you vocally. Your response to the screams and screeches will reinforce the accepted behavior. You must be consistent in rewarding desired vocalizations and ignoring undesirable vocalizations. A few methods of training your Quaker not to scream are time outs in the cage, turning out the lights, putting your bird in another room, or covering the cage until the bird calms down. 
     
    Training is the most basic of ways to teach your Quaker about acceptable behavior, including not biting. Parrots bite for different reasons. Just a few are: they are frightened, excited, feeling a little frisky, or just out of spite -- biting because they LIKE to. Remember parrots use their mouth and tongue like humans use their fingers, to explore the texture and feel different objects. When a parrot is exploring never pull your hand away quickly -- it might frighten the parrot and cause it to bite with out meaning any harm. If he does bite, you do not want to scream or hit your parrot, this gives a negative response of drama and that is what they will react to. If you have the parrot on your hand and he bites, quickly drop your hand 3-4 inches, just enough to make him lose balance, but not enough to make him fall. If this does not break the habit, try taking his beak in between your thumb and forefinger, look him in the eye, and very sternly tell him "NO". These are just a few of the tricks that might help in training and establishing good manners for your new family member. 
     
    Feeding and appropriate care of a Quaker Parrot is essential to ensure their health and psychological well being. There are three foundations that you should follow for your Quaker Parrot. Proper diet, psychological health, and routine sanitation are all factors to ensure the well being of your new family member. Balancing the diet with the proper amounts of amino acids (protein-building blocks), vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, carbohydrates and water in the diet should be constantly met. Keeping your Quaker on a sunflower seed-based diet can result in diseases that can cause a weakened state of the mouth, liver, kidneys, or whatever is waiting for some micro-organism to settle in. A diet consisting of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and lean, well-cooked meats (especially fish and poultry) along with a balanced mineral and vitamin supplement powder has no substitute.
     
    Quaker Parrots are relatively intelligent creatures and ignoring this fact could lead to irreversible psychological damage. This could be displayed as self-mutilation or some other form of psychosis on an internal basis. Factors such as neglect, rejection, teasing, abandonment, lack of privacy periods, or abuse is seen as an external rage toward people and other birds. Hands-on playtime and quality cuddle time are the best way to keep the stress level down for your Quaker Parrot. Make sure that your parrot has some toys that can entertain and stimulate the mental, as well as, the physical aspects. Housebound parrots also need voice contact, along with visual contact. Try a few games with him and you might be surprised at the response. My parrot, Chucky, enjoys playing peek-a-boo. 
     
    In the wild, nature provides all the necessary sanitation a Quaker Parrot needs. Moving from tree to tree and away from uneaten food allows for the parrots to maintain clean living quarters. A captive parrot should have their cage cleaned on a daily basis. Removing bird droppings and uneaten food that might be spoiled will help to prevent bacteria and yeast infections from developing. Daily trips to the local watering hole provide not only fresh drinking water but also daily baths. Quaker parrots are of rain forest origin and are used to being able to have a skin-deep drenching on a regular basis. Showers without soap or feather cleaners at least once a week should be given. This promotes good hygiene and good health for your Quaker parrot. Watching a parrot's happy tail shakes after a shower is very rewarding. Clinical surveys have shown that water systems and fouled water bowls, followed closely by spoiled food, are the two most common sources of recurring bacterial and yeast infections in captive birds. Do yourself and your parrot a favor and keep the sanitation of the cage and the parrot done on a daily basis. This will help to promote a happy and healthy family member. 
     
    Without a doubt, a Quaker Parrot is a fascinating and lovable pet. The life span they have is very compatible for the majority of people, since a lot of pet owners are concerned with what will happen to a pet after they have passed away. Read several different books about the Quaker so you understand how much devotion they will require from you. The personality and behavior they develop will reflect through the training that you provide to them. They will try your patience when they are unhappy, and the point will be announced, quite vocally. In training your Quaker, the amount and type of communication that can be achieved will depend on what you teach and how you interact during this process. Be sure to consider what type of diet is needed and the proper way to care for your Quakers sanitation needs (Now, you are Mother Nature). Providing the Quaker with a healthy and happy environment will also ensure its psychological health. Your Quaker will give you so much love and laughter in return, and that makes it all worthwhile.
     
    A Quaker parrot can offer companionship, to an otherwise dull home, since their personality seems to emit a ray of sunshine throughout the habitat. Quaker parrots require a lot of time, devotion, and patience to achieve the loving pet that can sit on your shoulder and whisper sweet nothings in your ear, without piercing it.

    Source: Monk Parakeets

     

     

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