FROM THE EDITOR
The response to our Quaker News
has been wonderful. Your notes and letters are full of enthusiasm and
overflow with expressions of your love and devotion for your pet
Quakers. I am amazed at the vocabularies you tell me about. They put
Willie, my African Gray to shame, and I always thought that he was a
The descriptions of your pets'
endearing ways and amusing antics are delightful to read about. A few
letters, telling me about the loss of a much loved pet, are very sad. I
have a bulletin board near my desk for all those colorful and cute
pictures you have sent me.
My wish is that I could find
enough hours in the day to answer each and every letter personally. Some
of your questions and problems should be responded to "right
now." Including all the letters I would like to print would result
in our publication tipping the postal scale at at least a pound. Trying
to make the decision as to what to share with all
of you has turned out to be the most difficult part of my job as editor.
So - thank you, every one of
you, for your support and enthusiasm. I promise you that I will try very
hard to live up to your expectations.
IF OFF TO WORK
Afraid to leave fresh fruits and
vegetables in your bird's
cage while you go off for hours? Use dried fruits and vegetables during
the day and offer the fresh produce when you come home. Remember to remove
the remains before you put your bird to bed. Your bird will surely look
forward to your home coming knowing special goodies are on the way. From
Deborah Drake of D&D Pet Products.
FROM OUR READERS
Louisiana, writes: I train dogs for obedience competition and they get
along very well with my Quaker. In fact, my Quaker rides on their backs
and lets them know quite emphatically that he is the boss.
And I thought that I
had heard everything!
- - - - - - - -
Dan, in New York,
writes:" I am the proud owner of a happy Quaker
( or is it the other way around?). Since he came into my life last July,
Bo has brought a lot of enjoyment to me.
I am in the Air
Force, stationed in New York and single, so that means I am in the dorms.
Being from South Carolina, I can't go home that often. Thank goodness for
We echo your
sentiments, Dan. We are happy you have
found a pet like Bo
to help you handle being so far from home. How great that you can keep him
in the dorm.
- - - - - - - -
Beverly of MI
writes:" I purchased a breeding pair of Quakers after I got my pet
" Popeye." "Ma" and "Pa", the breeders, have
given me two clutches of babies since June of "93 which I have hand
fed and sold. I have a waiting list for their next clutches."
Beverly! Quakers are prolific breeders, almost always excellent parents,
fun to hand feed, and the demand for them grows every year. You have found
an enjoyable way to make a little extra money at home.
- - - - - - - -
Danita, from MO,
writes that she is curious about how Quakers got their name.
The gray chest
feathers, or bib, with a little imagination, are like the old fashioned
robes of the Quaker ladies. Another name, the Monk Parakeet, is not
inspired by a religious group, but is an abbreviated form of M. Monachus,
the name of the sub-species to which they belong.
- - - - - - - -
Jerry, from NC,
writes: "My little "talker" was 4 months old when I got
him. Lucky me, he turned out to show a small amount of yellow in him two
months later. I have seen thousands of Quakers and this is the only one
with yellow showing that I have seen. I am looking forward to finding out
what his babies will show in color."
A bird born with
yellow feathers may possibly be one of the rare Pied mutations. If the
coloring remains the same after a molt this is probably the case. If the
yellow color develops after the bird's first molt or changes to green or
gray after the molt, this is not a mutation and will probably not be
reproduced in the bird's offspring. The yellow is then possibly a
nutritional problem or caused by some dysfunction of the liver.
SOME SIMPLE TRICKS
I am no expert on
training birds. I am much too busy breeding them to find the time and
patience involved. There are a few basics I have learned in working with
birds that are essential to keep in mind, even in just handling your
All parrots consider
movement from above a threat. This is instinctive behavior remaining from
their ancestors in the wild where hawks and other predators descended on
them from above. Whenever reaching for your Quaker, move your hands slowly
and from below to avoid his instinctive reaction of fear. Even a very tame
bird is not comfortable with the owner touching its back from above,
outside its line of vision.
Even when scratching your
Quaker's head, which they all
seem to enjoy, start
with your movements on the bird's foot or side. Only gradually work your
way up to the nape and cheek regions. Once your bird has been introduced
to this pleasurable activity, it will bend its head and body forward
without fear. Ours all do this, saying "Scratchy, scratchy", the
words we repeat.
It is quite natural
for your Quaker to hang upside down by one
claw, a part of its daily acrobatics in the cage. Maneuvering your pet
into hanging from your finger in this position is comparatively easy,
especially when it is rewarded by praise and a small treat. If the same
command, as simple as "Upside down", is repeated with each
practice session, your bright little Quaker will soon enjoy showing off
for your friends.
These activities are
so simple perhaps they should not even be classified as tricks, but they
add to the fun of ownership for anyone.
From Jo Ann in
Michigan - "After a good cleaning of the grill on the bottom of the
cage, wipe on a thin layer of vegetable oil. This will help to prevent the
droppings from sticking, making it easier to clean."
My only reservation
on this idea is a warning to thoroughly wipe away any oil residue. If oil
from any source gets on a bird's plumage, most will attempt to preen the
feathers until they are clean. If this is not successful the bird will
start plucking out the oil stained feathers, the start of a bad habit.
Even a few drops of an oil based vitamin product in the drinking water has
been discovered to be the cause of feather plucking in some birds.
? BOND ?
We use the word
"bond" freely in describing our Quakers' relationships with
humans and other birds. Its meaning may not be clear when used in this
context. Used in this way, "bond" means a strong attatchment,an
emotional tie, a union almost equivalent to marriage in humans.
DOES MY QUAKER
NEED A MATE?
All too often,
providing a mate for your Quaker is offered as a solution to every problem
from feather plucking to biting. Not true! The assumption that a
frustrated urge to breed is causing your bird great unhappiness is false.
are probably based on our tendency to think of our pet birds behavior as
being similar to that of our pet dogs'. It is true that the same
instinctive need to procreate exists in both. The devoted dog who never
leaves your side will not hesitate for a moment to take off after a
strange female canine in heat. His sexual needs have no relationship to
his bond with you.
Your Quaker is
entirely different. When this bird bonds to a human it perceives that
person as its mate. It does not need another bird; it is satisfied with
its relationship with the owner. On occasion, when nature starts its
hormones percolating, the bird may try to act out the actual mating
procedure with its human mate. This behavior can readily be discouraged by
reprimanding the bird, immediately diverting its attention, and not
permitting a habit to form by repetition. When your female Quaker lays an
egg she is not indicating to you her desire to have babies. This is just
the normal result of ovulation, no emotion involved.
The pet who has been
receiving much love and attention and is closely bonded to its owner will
not instantly become a happier bird when placed even in the ideal breeding
situation. It will probably eventually bond to the mate provided, but
often only after a long period of time elapses. We have in our aviaries
pet birds who took a full year to even sit on the same perch with a mate.
Occasionally the human bond endures, and no mating takes place.
Once bonded to each
other in a breeding situation, the delightful relationship with the owner
is lost. They become territorial,
viewing humans as a threat to their eggs and babies. They will often bite
the hand that feeds them. There may be a few exceptions, but the old
saying that "You can't have your cake and eat it" applies here.
Your Quaker is either a breeder or a pet - you can't have it both ways.
Many owners who are
away from home for long hours at a time are interested in finding
another Quaker to serve as a companion or "buddy" for their pet.
This can work quite well, but more often causes more problems than it
solves. The owner must be prepared to give double the time and attention
to two birds to maintain the pet-owner bond. If you are finding it
difficult to spend enough time with your pet, it may well form a close
bond with its new companion, leaving you out of the relationship. Almost
always, our Quakers bond faithfully, either to another bird or to their
human owner. This is a quality inherent in their nature and one which
helps to make them such wonderful pets.
POTTY TRAINING YOUR QUAKER
by Jo An from
Michigan, one of our talented subscribers
I found that potty
training Stimmie, my Quaker, was basically an easy job. I believe these
intelligent little birds are under-rated. A little time, lots of love,
feeling secure in their environment, and following the factors below will
obtain desired results. I have found that my birds respond to positive
reinforcement only. A negative attitude or agitated tone to your voice
only proves to make them hostile and stubborn. The old adage "You can
catch more flies with honey" applies to Quakers.
The five important factors in
potty training are:
1. Assign a one
syllable word for environmental items and actions/reactions.
2. Identification method.
5. Over zealous, enthusiastic sign
I use a one syllable
word to identify an action or item in my bird's environment, For example,
when Stim takes a drink of water (Observation), I tap the tray lightly
(Identification), say "Drink" (Word), enthusiastically. I even
clap my hands in the air saying "Yea!!!" (Reinforcement.)
I had observed that when playing
away from his cage Stimmie would gesture to return to his cage. I would
then get his attention and say "cage" to him while tapping my
forehead and slowly moving my arm to point to the cage. I repeated this
several times enthusiastically, not long, for like children they seem to
have short attention spans. I would help him to the cage and praise him as
in the example above. I use only one method of praise. This keeps it
simple and clear to the birds that they have performed a favorable
To reiterate the
factors I have discussed:
1. Assign a one
syllable word for environment items or actions you wish to identify such
as "Drink" for water dish, "Seed" for pellet dish,
"Corn" for any fresh food, or "Dupe" for elimination.
Method: To identify the water dish I softly tap and say "Drink,
Stimmie." I use this method with other stimuli I wish to identify.
3. Consistency: You
must make sure that you use your
consistently for actions and reactions.
4. Observation: Take
quiet time with your bird and
behaviors you wish for him to identify, especially the time before
Approval for a job well done must get your bird's attention.
I was born and
raised in "the West". My parents began their married life in
Idaho and we moved several times as a family from Idaho to Utah, from Utah
to Nevada, from Nevada to Idaho, and then we repeated the process. Upon
completing my college studies at Weber State College (now Weber State
University) in Ogden, Utah, having majored in accounting and minored in
Data Processing, I began my professional career as an accountant in Salt
Lake City. In very short order I changed my professional focus to Data
Processing where I have remained for the past 18 years.
As a child growing
up I possessed a keen interest in the wildlife that I found around me.
Growing up in high elevation desert environments I found in my
neighborhoods a plethora of lizards, snakes, ground squirrels, tortoises
and, of course, birds. Over the years many reptiles from my
"backyard" shared my bedroom. My study of birds was limited to
admiration from afar. I spent several hours as a boy sketching the birds
that fascinated me in my surroundings as well as sketching from pictures
of birds that occupied areas in other parts of the United States.
Tracy Aviary is
located in Salt Lake City. Tracy is the largest aviary in the U.S. I spent
many hours as a child and as an adult at the aviary. Tracy houses several
hundred species of birds from all over the world. It was at Tracy that my
interest in birds was awakened. It was also at Tracy where I first
discovered monk (quaker) parakeets.
While working in the
Salt Lake City area, I became part of a professional consulting staff for
a local paper distributor. The owner of the paper business had on the
premises a quaker parakeet, a yellow-naped Amazon parrot, and a blue and
gold macaw. Being the first one to arrive at the business each morning, I
assumed the responsibility of feeding, cleaning and "releasing"
the birds for their "free flight" exercise time around the
office. As I worked, the birds would visit me at my computer terminal and
alternately tear important papers, pull off computer terminal knobs and
buttons, tip over vases of flowers on desks, bite exposed portions of my
body and, generally, keep me distracted from my assigned tasks.
In spite of the
distractions, I grew to love and admire my psittacine morning companions.
They became a varied part of each new day.
In 1987 I was
recruited by Pepperidge Farm to head up their Information Systems
Department in Norwalk, Connecticut. I moved my very young family as well
as my budgie and two lovebirds 2,200 miles east to the small Connecticut
town of Trumbull. Within weeks of arriving in Connecticut, I became
involved as a volunteer Docent at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport where I
am the Volunteer Education Coordinator for Beardsley's Docent program.
It was in this
capacity I first learned that "parakeets" were living in a feral
state in Bridgeport. I assumed these wild parakeets were the well known
and colorful "budgies" available for sale in any pet store. I
soon learned otherwise.
In 1989 members of
the Connecticut Audubon Society and I began studying the free flying
Connecticut "parakeets." We learned that these parakeets were
quaker (monk) parakeets from the sub-tropical grasslands of South America.
From such humble beginnings, our quaker study group has
"fledged" into a major study endeavor which has spent many hours
studying these birds in the field, at the library and on the computer. We
have acquired hundreds of pages of documentation on quakers both of a
scientific and general news nature. We plan to visit quakers in their
"natural" habitat in Argentina in the very near future.
At the Beardsley Zoo
in 1991 I began a quaker exhibit which now houses ten quakers. These hardy
birds have survived the bitter cold of winter and the draining heat of
summer here in Connecticut.
Wild Parrots in
When considering New
England one generally thinks of spectacular fall colors, maple syrup, the
Boston Tea Party, or winter sports. Free flying parrots living in a wild
state, building nests, courting mates and raising families through rain,
sleet, and snow hardly seem characteristic of signature New England. Yet,
over the past 25 years, parrots have become an increasingly visible
spectacle along the New England coastline.
In 1968 over 12,000
quaker parakeets were imported into the United States through JFK Airport
in New York City. Thousands more were imported during the ensuing years.
These imported quakers were sold in pet stores throughout the Northeast.
It was only a matter of time before some of these parrots found their way
to freedom as pet parrots too often do. By 1973 quakers were reported
nesting and raising young in many parts of Long Island, all five New York
boroughs, and New Jersey. Quakers were first reported in Connecticut in
1971. By 1978 Connecticut's quaker population was established in a very
affluent neighborhood of Bridgeport known as Black Rock. Within a few
years quakers were also nesting and breeding in Warwick, Rhode Island.
By 1973 popular
estimates indicated that between 4,000 and 5,000 quakers were living in
the "wilds" in the U. S. Authorities from 13 northeastern
states, worried by the threat wild (or feral) quakers posed to native
songbirds, crops, and human health, determined that the free-flying
quakers must be eradicated. Programs were undertaken in New York, New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina to shoot or otherwise destroy
free flying quakers, their nests and nestlings. These eradications were
termed "retrievals" to make the programs more palatable to local
residents as well as to the press.
gathered on the feral quakers during these eradication attempts indicated
that a few hundred quakers were living in these states rather than the
thousands formerly estimated by non-authoritative sources. Connecticut and
Rhode Island did not participate in "retrieval" programs.
remain with their parents for many months and usually build their first
nest(s) near their parents. The founding colony of Bridgeport quakers
settled in a 100 year old evergreen tree which was over 100 feet tall. In
this tree many nests were constructed over the years and by 1993 over 40
nests were being actively used by feral quakers. These nests measured up
to nine feet in length
and five feet in width. Over 200 quakers inhabited this single evergreen.
Connecticut's feral quakers remained a very localized phenomenon until
about 1988 when mild winters and generously filled bird feeders began to
provide a hospitable environment for the local quaker population to
vigorously expand. Reports of feral quakers began to fill local
Connecticut newspapers and magazines as quakers colonized several other
coastal neighborhoods and towns. Quakers dispersed over the years
following 1978 from their founding Bridgeport locale and by 1993 nests
were reported in towns along Connecticut's coastline from Norwalk on the
west to Branford on the east. Today it is estimated that over 500 feral
quakers call Connecticut home.
experiencing one of its most severe winters on record. Yet, despite snow,
sleet, rain and subzero temperatures, Connecticut's quakers continue to
fare well. As long as feeders are well-filled, local fruit and nut trees
provide abundant forage, and open water is available, Connecticut's
quakers seem unfazed by the cold weather.
Reported by Our
Buddy loves my
husband. If I come into the room Buddy will go into his cage and close the
At night, when I
tell Cricket "Go to sleep now." he goes into his cage and goes
to sleep on his perch.
Harley has various
toys like teething rings and keys which he separates and puts into his
cage one by one. He steals mail of all sizes and puts it into his cage by
slipping it through the cage bars.