Susan enjoys writing on a variety of topics. She spends time exploring Michigan outdoors and loves the history surrounding the lighthouses.
The Quaker Parrot as a Pet
Quaker parrots are fun-loving and known for their silly antics, personalities, and their ability to mimic. Proper care is necessary with this type of bird, and what you provide can keep him happy and healthy for many years. This article will give you tips for caring for your pet, along with things to avoid so that you can enjoy your pet for a long time.
Bringing Your Pet Home
So you have decided to get a pet bird. While a Quaker parrot is a great bird, there are things you need to get ready if you want to bring one home.
- Transport Cage: A transport cage will be required to bring your pet home, and it's also handy for trips to the vet or other transportation needs. Mine is a cat transport container equipped with a perch.
- Cage: Quakers are an active bird and need a relatively large cage—at least 18" x 18" x 18" in size. If the cage was any smaller, it would not allow for your pet's movement and flapping motions.
- Safe Area for the Cage: Consider the placement of the cage. It should be free of drafts, have natural light, and be in an area safe from traffic or other animals.
- Toys: These pets are naturally inquisitive and need a variety of toys. They will often take them apart; Levi, my pet, has demolished several toys. A variety of colorful toys with extras to rotate in and out of the cage will keep your pet intellectually stimulated.
- Food Containers: Preferably, you need three containers: one for fresh water, one for the primary food, and one for fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Food: Your breeder should be able to recommend a healthy food. What I feed my Quaker is linked in this article.
Feeding Your Quaker
In the wild, a Quaker Parrot eats a variety of foods: seeds, nuts, berries, and vegetation such as leaf buds and blossoms. With that being said, a parrot needs a well-balanced and varied diet, both for their health and their instinctive foraging. I feed my pet Tropimix Small Bird Food. It contains pellets, seeds, dried fruits, and vegetables. This type of food provides a varied diet and allows my Quaker, Levi, to have the foraging experience.
Wild birds do forage for seeds as they are in season. However, commercially prepared seed packages contain seeds that are high in fat, such as peanuts and sunflower seeds. A pet bird will often pick a couple of favorite seeds, and these tend to be the ones that are particularly high in fat and low in needed nutrients—kind of like a child with candy. A Quaker should never be on a seed-only diet; this type of diet could lead to severe malnutrition.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of your Quaker's diet. When picking fruits and vegetables, wash them thoroughly to remove chemicals, then cut them into small, manageable pieces. There is no need to peel them as the skins also contain nutrients.
When you are picking vegetables, take note that pale vegetables—such as iceberg lettuce, head lettuce, or celery—have a high water content and low nutrient level. Also please be aware that avocado is potentially toxic to your Quaker.
Pellets have been developed to meet all of your parrot’s nutritional needs. Therefore, if your pet is on a seed-eating diet, it is important to work toward weaning them off of the seeds and onto a pellet diet. It is important to do this slowly, so your bird does not just quit eating. You should never withdraw seeds entirely without first introducing the pellets and making sure your pet is eating them. This can be a slow process; it can take from several days to months.
My pet, Levi, enjoys eating with the family. We will set him on his play gym and have a bowl set aside just for this purpose. Just be careful of food temperature. Also, avoid sweet foods or caffeine-containing foods such as chocolate as these can be toxic to your pet. It is common sense that alcoholic beverages are not to be given to your pet. Dairy products should be consumed in moderation. Levi enjoys small pieces of egg. A rule of thumb is that the food should be wholesome and high in nutrition—a good rule for both you and your pet.
Fresh, clean water should be available at all times. Also, depending on your tap water source, you might want to consider using bottled water. Make sure your pet's dishes are cleaned thoroughly every day.
Healthy Treats for Your Quaker
Fresh Fruit or Vegtable Pieces
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Beans (cooked and cooled)
Pieces of Pasta
Cheerios (or non-sugary cereal)
Corn on the Cob
Whole Grain Bread
Foods to Avoid
- Avocado: This plant contains persin, a fungicidal that can be cardiac-toxic to birds—primarily smaller birds, but it has been found in many birds
- Chocolate: This can cause hyperactivity, increased heart rate, and potential seizures in your pet.
- Sunflower Seeds: These seeds should be eaten only in moderation as these are high-fat content for your pet and cause fatty disease—a common problem for Quakers.
- Apple Seeds and Fruit Pits: These contain cyanide. It is okay to feed your pet pieces of apple or other fruits—just do not give them the seeds or pits.
More Information About Harmful Foods
For a more comprehensive list of foods to avoid, please refer to the article linked below.
- Foods Toxic To Pet Birds | Pet Birds by Lafeber Co.
Foods On Your Avian Vet’s Do Not Feed List include Chocolate, Avocado, Onion, High-Fat and High-Sugar foods.
Items That Are Dangerous for Your Bird
Some items pose a serious risk to your bird's health. While this list is not conclusive, it does give some things to watch out for to keep your pets safe.
Window, Doors, and Mirrors: A bird will not recognize these as barriers and will fly right into them, causing serious injury or death. I had a friend lose a beloved pet due to this; the bird flew into a small mirror, which then fell onto the bird, instantly killing him—a devastating accident. Open doors and windows are an obvious danger.
Sitting Water: Sinks, toilets, and pots of water pose a risk if your bird is allowed to be free. Make sure these are covered so your pet does not drown.
Other Pets in the Household: Dogs, cats, or other birds pose a risk. Even though they seem harmless, they could severely injure your bird. My pet has gone after our beloved Golden Retriever and tried to bite his nose.
Plants: There are many poisonous household plants, and your bird's natural curiosity and chewing can lead to accidental poisoning.
Ceiling Fans pose a risk to a flying bird. It is safer to keep your pet's wings clipped.
Loud Noises can lead to stress in a bird, causing reduced resistance to infections
Fumes from everyday cooking, burning foods, household cleaners, candles, painting, or other gases can be dangerous.
Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon): This species' respiratory system is particularly sensitive due to the normal double breathing of a parrot. Teflon products, when inhaled, can cause serious health risks or even kill your pet; it makes me wonder what this product does to us. Several items can emit these fumes. A few examples are:
- Pots and pans coated with Teflon
- Heat lamps
- Sole plates on irons
- Coffee makers
- Many cooking utensils
- Hot air popcorn makers
- Pizza pans
- Portable heaters
- Non-stick cookware (any type)
If you think something is wrong with your bird, there probably is something wrong! Birds hide the symptoms of illness instinctively; in the wild, it wards off predators. Learn to be a medical detective and examine your bird regularly. Any sudden change requires a thorough investigation and a trip to the avian vet. Below are some examples of symptoms to watch for:
- Discharge from eyes
- Favoring a leg or wing
- Changes in droppings or blood in droppings
- Plucking feathers without natural molting
- Fluffing out
- Sitting on the bottom of the cage
- Stopping their normal activities (not singing, chattering, playing, eating, or pooping, for example)
If these are unusual changes for your bird, they can be symptoms of illness, and a trip to the vet is necessary.
The Monk Parrot (Myiopsitta monachus), also known as the Quaker Parrot, originated from the subtropical areas of Argentina and surrounding areas of South America. It can be found feral (wild) in many parts of the United States and Europe. They were brought to these areas by travelers as pets, then released.
These birds are extremely hardy and can often survive if let loose. The quality of hardiness has caused them to be illegal to own in some states. They are naturally found in a green color, but through breeding, they can be found in blue, cinnamon and a rare yellow color.
Interesting Facts About the Quaker
- They are considered a small to medium-sized parrot, which makes them excellent for smaller homes or apartments, though the noise factor can be troublesome in an apartment.
- The green Quaker grows to be roughly 12 inches long and weighs about 3 to 4 1/2 ounces. The blue Quakers tend to be a little smaller.
- They have a long lifespan if properly taken care of and can live 30–35 years. So buying a companion parrot is a commitment.
- The Quaker is on the top ten list of talking parrots. Mine has a vocabulary of about twenty appropriate conversational words, along with several (what’d he say) funny words.
- According to scientists, birds can display emotion—a skill found only in the brain of higher vertebrates.
We Love Our Quaker, Levi, and We Hope You Will Love Yours
With proper care, attention, and intellectual stimulation, you will have a happy, healthy pet. My husband and I regularly laugh with our pet—and yes, he does laugh! Enjoy your Quaker.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a 1 year old male Quaker. Healthy, happy, chatty. We love him but he has become very hormonal. Without a mate, he's pretty frustrated. He bites hard for no apparent reason. We blocked the place he tried to nest in. We tried to distract him when he started acting sexual, but since that didn't work, we now walk away from him. What can we do to stop the sudden agression towards us? Do you know of any other sites on which I can ask for help?
Answer: Just wondering if this aggressiveness is only in his cage? If this is the case you might find he is a sweet fella as soon as you remove him from the cage. Quakers tend to be very possessive of "their territory" due to the complexity of their nests in the wild. This possessiveness turns to aggressive behavior with their cage in captivity. I remedied this by stick training them - I train them to step up on a stick making them easy to remove from the cage and my baby turns sweet again. As for the sexual behavior - I would just continue to ignore the behavior - it again is a natural thing for a quaker to do.
Question: I found a Nova Microdermabrasion 61" Large Bird Cage on Amazon, and I was wondering if that would be big enough for a Quaker Parrot?
Answer: Yes, this looks like a very good choice. It is large enough and with the play gym on top, your Quaker can play all around his cage. I open the top door when I am home and Levi enjoys the freedom to walk all around his cage, inside and out.
Question: Are Quakers hard to breed in captivity? How many babies in a clutch?
Answer: Quaker parrots are one of the easiest parrots to breed in captivity. They generally lay from 5-12 eggs in a clutch and can take from 24-28 days to incubate them. The most difficult part is sexing the parrots to make sure you have a male and female. Once you know you have a pair it is making sure you have a suitable nest box. Then do some research on hand feeding the babies as this makes a gentle pet later. Good luck on your endeavor - it can be very fun and rewarding.
Question: What does it mean when a parrot twists their head all around and opens their mouth?
Answer: It can mean many things. If they squawk loudly while doing it, it can mean that they are territorial. It could also be an inquisitive look or an invitation to play a game by mimicking back. My parrot likes when I tilt my head back and forth with him, and will jibber in delight once we start our game.
Question: What is the minimum cage size required for a Quaker Parrot?
Answer: It is not good to have a cage smaller than about 18" x 18" x 18". Quakers are very inquisitive and love to play, tear apart and figure things out, so they need a lot of toys and space to keep them happy. If your space allows for a larger cage, it only benefits your pet; it will keep your bird happy and content. So a large space and toys are great for a Quaker Parrot.
Question: We are in love with our blue Quaker - he has become quite aggressive and while he used to come out of his cage by running headfirst into our hand, he now refuses to come out of his cage. The only way is to grab him with a towel! This started back in April after we went on a week-long vacation. How do you train Blue Quaker parrots to step up?
Answer: Yes, most Quakers behave this way - in the wild, Quakers build very intricate nests. They protect this nest, and it appears to be an inbreed characteristic. By teaching your pet to step up onto a stick or bird perch, you can easily take them out of their cage. I started this training by having mine "step up" from one finger to the other. This is completed by gently pushing your finger into their chest while saying, "step up." When they begin to do this automatically when you say this command, then start training with a stick. It will be easy to get them out of the cage using the stick to get them out - once they are out of their cage, you will have a sweet bird again.
Question: I have a 3 yr old quaker parrot who has been pulling out his feathers around his front, since last night, to the point of bleeding and bare around neck and shoulder. What should I do to help my quaker parrot to stop plucking his own feathers?
Answer: Feather plucking is often a sign of stress in a bird. With how the plucking began so suddenly, has anything recently happened to cause stress in your bird? Have you moved the cage, added a pet, or anything else? That is what I would first look at - then I would look at diet. have you recently changed his food? Another idea could be boredom - Quakers are naturally curious and need toys to challenge them and keep them interested. With bleeding though, it would be a good idea to bring him to an Avian Veterinarian.
© 2017 Susan Sears
Kylie Hooper on December 22, 2019:
I have a 8 week old Quaker, only 4 days ago, he has been hand reared, first couple day he was good, could touch and hold him but since then he won't let me touch him, goes to bite and cause it is my first ever bird, l do get a little scared, still flies in and out of cage. Any help would be appreciated.
Susan Sears (author) on February 27, 2019:
I agree with you, Kim...the picture I took of Levi with his pet carrier was on his first trip to my bird sitter - I took the picture so my husband could see what he was doing and to warn other people of the Quaker's mischievous personality - as the caption says. My travel cage now has an added front screen for Levi's protection.
In addition, I somewhat agree with your breeder comment - if a person has a reputable breeder and chooses their pet wisely they can land up with a life long pet. If they can find a parrot at a rescue and work well with the behaviors or special needs of the rescued parrot that is also a good way to go.
More importantly, the person looking to buy a parrot needs to really research and determine that this pet will be able to live in their lifestyle for the long haul - as parrots live a very long time. It is sad, as with any pet when a person buys the pet on a whim and gets rid of it as soon as it novelty wears off. That is the reason we need rescues.
Another thought to consider is the longevity of a parrot - a Quaker can live about 15 to 20 years, but have been known to live up to 30 years - this is a long term commitment and consideration should be who will take your pet if he outlives you?
If you know of any good parrot rescue places feel free to post them on here as a potential adoption source.
Kim on February 26, 2019:
As a wildlife rehabber & veterinary technician, I have 2 recommendations for you.
First, please do not encourage people to purchase a bird from a breeder. Parrots are now one of leading pets being abandoned at rescues. Parrots are loud, messy, & need a great deal of attention. They can make wonderful additions to a home but they are a demanding pet. If intrested, people should contact their local parrot rescue.
Second suggestion is for your adorable Levi. The photo of him in his pet carrier...he should not be able to have his head outside of the carrier. It can be dangerous since he can now chew on wires or anything else near the bars. Plus, other animals would be able to put their paws through the front of the carrier.
As an individual that shares my home with 2 gregarious rescue Quakers, they are beyond fun but a lot of work. Do a lot of careful research before adding any new addition to your family.
Susan Sears (author) on August 13, 2017:
I have had lovebirds too...they make a good pet but the Quakers personality and talking make them a great pet. Levi's silly antics make him a very lovable bird.
Dani Merrier from Georgia, United States on August 13, 2017:
This is a really interesting and informative article. I've never owned a pet bird, but my grandmother has always liked to keep lovebirds and pets like that. Quakers definitely seem like they would make cool pets!