FROM THE EDITOR
I have read many times that a
parrot has the intelligence of a three year old and the emotional
development of a two year old human. Having vivid memories of the
"terrible twos" of both my children and grand children, I like
to think that these bird psychologists are under estimating our Quakers
in both areas.
The wise people who make
scientific studies on these matters generally do agree that parrots have
a higher degree of intelligence than dogs. Because their life cycles are
so different, the stages in the human-parrot relationships are more like
the human-child relationship. The baby Quaker remains a baby almost as
long as the human baby. It will learn to behave in a socially acceptable
manner at much the same speed and in much the same way. The puppy or the
kitten develop into adulthood more rapidly, reaching their maximum
adjustment possibilities much earlier in their shorter lives.
Your Quaker has
the same requirements as a developing child
for firm, loving supervision with consistent rules and reinforcement of
desirable behavior. Verbal praise, laughter, and obvious pleasure are
very strong reinforcement tools. Withholding praise and quiet admonition
are preferable responses to undesirable behavior than an excited
"carrying on" by the owner. Just as our two years olds prefer
negative attention to no attention at all, our birds will enjoy creating
a little excitement. A stern look, a firm "Stop that!", and
removal to the cage for a time out are usually effective responses.
Your little Quaker
is smart enough to understand that there are rules and customs that have
to be honored as well as love and fun to be shared.
FROM OUR READERS
" HELP! Why do
birds mutilate themselves when they have a skin problem? My Quaker Tiki
has a skin infection, is on antibiotics and Benadryl - but the Vet still
does not know why he itches so much. Is Avian Veterinary medicine still
"by guess, by golly", or do they really know what to do and why
birds are ill? " Polly from Washington
The medical people
in my family remind me that the practice of medicine is still an art, not
a science. Making a diagnosis is often an educated guess, either for
humans or birds. I trust that by now Tiki is more comfortable.
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" How do we
deal with a Quaker who would like to breed
with its owner? I
put my ten month old Elmo into his cage when he starts regurgitating and
rump rubbing on me. What's best?" Fay from Illinois
Elmo is really not
wanting to mate but is demonstrating his affection for you in the only way
a baby bird knows. Making it clear that his methods are not welcome
without any particular fuss over the situation is best. Unless it is
allowed to become a habit, this stage will pass.
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" My Quaker
Quak sleeps in a hammock made from a dish towel
hung in the corner of the cage. He sleeps on his back with his feet in the
air. He is now a year old and is pulling on his feathers. He has a small
bald spot under his beak near his neck. He has no other spots. Could he be
in his first molt? "
Quaks first molt is
about due and may well be the cause of his feather pulling. I suggest a
daily "bath" with a fine spray of warm water and trying to
distract him with toys or treats if you can catch him in the act.
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I have heard from
four new Quaker owners who are enjoying babies rescued from that falling
tree last summer in Connecticut. How wonderful that so many were saved by
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"Shiloh is now
one year old and talks up a storm! His first word was "kisses"
and a smooching sound at only two months of age. Truly incredible! He is
still adding vocabulary almost daily." Crystal from Minnesota
Perhaps you, and
some of our other readers with these marvelous
talkers, will share with us some of your teaching techniques. You must be
doing something right. Most Quakers are talking by the end of their first
year, but not all as talented as Shiloh.
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"I have a
Quaker named Sammy. He is two years old, full of mischief, talks quite a
bit, and likes to mimic us when we laugh or cough. He is always on my
shoulder. I am retired and home most of the time. He surely is an
entertaining and loveable pet." Stormy from Michigan
A bird is an
excellent pet for retired folks not quite up to the demands of caring for
a dog or cat. Your words "entertaining and loveable" do describe
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16th I received my first issue of The Quaker News. I own two Quakers and
thought that it might be helpful. It was the timing of your 'From the
Editor' column that hit home. In December one of the Quakers, Squirt, was
taken to our Avian Vet because she had received a puncture wound to her
palette. We separated her from the cage they were both in and she seemed
to bounce back great. Then I started to notice changes: loss of appetite,
hanging out in the bottom of the cage, but her stools still looked pretty
good. She is "Daddy's baby" and that's when I noticed how she
would run to her food dish when he came in the room and would eat readily
only from his hand. But I still wasn't convinced that she was a sick bird.
Well, after reading your editorial, I picked up the phone and talked to my
Vet. He agreed that if I noticed something it was definitely worth
checking out. He took blood, stool, and gram stain and called later to say
that she had Giardia. We gave her oral medication
for ten days and her stool sample was negative. I am so thankful that we
caught it so quickly." Iola from Wisconsin.
condition early is half the battle in combating disease in our birds.
Alert, observant owners and Avian Vets who listen save many lives.
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" In your last
news letter, Charlotte from Illinois could
not get her four year old Quaker out of the cage.
We've found that the
best way to get a bird to willingly come out of the cage is to put the
cage on the floor. They will instinctively want to climb higher, and if
the door is open they will soon be out. It also helps if your cage has a
top opening to a play gym. Hope this helps." Sandy from Michigan
Thanks, Sandy. This
sounds like a great idea. I know that Charlotte will try it and let us
know the result.
DO'S AND DON'TS ON
DO make sure that a
good pelleted food constitutes 80% of your bird's daily intake of food.
Add wholesome foods and small amounts of seed only as treats.
DON'T give snacks of
salty or sweet foods. No chocolate, alcohol, or caffeine in any form.
DO offer treats in
very small amounts only. Keep in mind the relative size of the bird to a
human. One or two grapes, one slice of apple, a quarter of a slice of
whole wheat bread, are all ample amounts.
DON'T allow your
bird to continue on an all seed diet. With time and patience the most
stubborn bird can be weaned away from seeds to a more healthy diet.
DO check carefully
on the safety of house plants your Quaker may nibble on. Many common
varieties are poisonous.
DON'T leave fresh
fruits and vegetables, or any food that can spoil, in your bird's cage for
more than an hour or two. Spoiled food is just as dangerous for birds as
DO be sure that your
pet has a supply of fresh, clean water at all times.
DON'T use walnut
shell bedding, corn cob bedding. or kitty litter to line your cage. Birds
of all ages nibble on these materials causing serious illness or death.
HE CONFISCATES PET, RUFFLES HER
(A clipping sent in
by Dan from New York.)
animal lover and the game warden: it was not a match made in heaven.
Sylvia Appel, 46, of
Allentown, can't stand the thought of an animal being killed, and has a
house full of dogs, birds, and gerbils. Kim Pullsinelli, 39, of Bethlehem,
works for the state game commission.
They managed to
shrug off their differences over animal rights and began a romance.
Four months later,
Bobby, the Monk parakeet came between them.
Pulsinelli and other
game wardens entered Appel's home last month and confiscated Appel's pet
bird. The Monk parakeet is illegal in Pennsylvania because of its reputed
threat to farmers' crops. Bobby is an indoor bird.
Appel hasn't spoken
to Pulsinelli, but she wants him to know: it's over.
" You drop some
of your guard, you trust the guy, and then he turns around an and does
this to you." Appel said. Appel and Pulsenelli met in a bar - the
Main Gate nightclub in Allentown, in June. Appel said that she thought
Pulsinelli was caring and concerned.
"He just seemed
like a very honest man." she said. "He seemed like he had a good
head on his shoulders. He wasn't like this stupid jerk."
Appel had trained
the five year old bird to dance on command, lift a set of miniature
barbells, and say phrases like" Good morning," "NightyNight,"
you're a stinker," " talk to me,"and" Ow,ow, ow."
Pulsinelli led a
team of game commission wardens into Appel's home September 16th, when he
knew Appel was eating dinner with a friend and took Bobby away.
"I asked him
"Why?" Appel said. "And he answered, "It's my
An article by your
editor on talking Quakers is scheduled for the June 1995 issue of Bird
Talk Magazine. The April, 1995 issue features my article on Quakers with a
lovely center fold picture and a Lutino Quaker on the cover. The Lutino is
unfortuneately not mine, but a picture taken in England. Bird Breeder
magazine has an article by me on choosing a Veterinarian in the April 1995
issue and one on breeding Quakers is planned for the September issue.
Editors sometimes change their long range plans, so all may not appear as
A NOTE TO OUR
Spring is breeding
time for our Quakers, and an exciting time it is. I know that there are
many of you out there anxiously awaiting your pair's first attempts at
going to nest. Those many months of cleaning and feeding, and probably a
good bit of worrying, are finally about to pay off. Especially for the
owners of blues, visions of recouping large investments of money and
hopefully even profits to be made are a big part of your thoughts.
Patience and an
optimistic attitude are essential requirements
for any bird breeder. Keep in mind that your birds do not read the books
and articles that you do. They are not aware of the average expectations
the authors write about. Your pair may be ready to breed in the first or
second year , as is usual, but they may not be producing until their third
year. An average figure is after all a mid point
between highs and lows. It refers to what can generally be expected of
this species, but there is nothing wrong with the bird whose performance
may be a bit different.
First time parents
often do not perform well. Eggs may not
be fertile and the birds may not sit well enough to hatch those that are.
They may be negligent in their feeding duties requiring very early pulling
of the babies for hand feeding if they are to survive. Do give the parents
a second or even a third chance to settle down to customary devoted
The usual pattern is
for Quakers to have a second clutch when the first babies are about four
weeks old. They then rest up for about three months and again double
clutch. With birds this prolific you can afford to give them time for
My wish is for all
of you to be having dozens of the little
down covered babies to hand feed, with prospects of more to come. Good
Luck! - Linda
Quakers At Large
By David Wright
As we have discussed
in this column in the past, the quaker nest is an invaluable asset which
distinguishes the quaker from all other parrots. The quaker nest is such
an integral part of quaker behavior that early attempts to control the
spread of wild quakers in the United States were directed at destroying
nests built by wild living quakers. What was never studied, however, was
how the quaker nest actually controls the spread of quakers in the wild.
We in Connecticut
have observed that fledging babies rarely move very far away from the
nests in which they were fledged. We have further noted that it is common
for the fledglings to attach their nests onto those of existing adult,
mated pairs. When the fledglings leave their natal nests they rarely
disperse far. Understanding little of this nesting peculiarity we were
fortunate to come upon a study done in Argentina by Liliana F. Martin and
Enrique H. Bucher of the National University of Cordoba. Mr. Bucher is
widely recognized as the worlds leading quaker expert. He has been
publishing detailed studies on quakers for over ten years.
Mr. Bucher has noted
that quaker fledglings remain with their parents until they are three
months old. When the fledglings leave home they disperse in random
directions from their natal nest site but rarely do the young move more
than 500 yards from their fledging nest site. Even when nests are
destroyed and whole families displaced, the families never settle more
than 330 yards away from the site of their destroyed nest.
disperse before their parents next breeding season and begin building
their own nests. They work on these nests for a year. During this time no
breeding occurs in these nests. As was suggested in this column last
issue, quaker nests are obviously used for more than breeding purposes.
Breeding does not occur in the wild until the second season of occupying a
dispersal of young is very relevant to the ongoing debate in many states
as to whether quakers should be allowed as pets. This is an amusing
discussion since quakers build such obvious nests, they are never
difficult to locate. Furthermore, since babies do not disperse far from
their natal sites, it is apparent wild populations of quakers pose little
if any threat of becoming a problem here in the United States.
Quakers at large are
not starling or English sparrow travesties in the making. Were this so
Connecticut would already be overrun with quakers since they have lived in
the wild in this state for over 20 years. One of the limiting factors to
the spread of these illegal aliens in the state appears to be the penchant
of the young for settling close to mom and dad.
Until the great
storm of 1993 which destroyed the prime nesting location of quakers in
Connecticut they were little known in the wild by Connecticut residents.
Only those people on whose property the quakers had nested were really
aware of them. When the storm of 1993 wiped out the main nesting tree, the
adults dispersed into the neighborhood from which they had been displaced.
Within days quaker nests appeared throughout this neighborhood. However,
few nests were built in new or formerly uninhabited quaker locales.
The relevance to us
as quaker owners is that wildlife authorities must understand this
peculiar penchant of quakers. Even if our pets were to get loose, they
would not soon take over wide swaths of land destroying all agriculture in
their paths. As a matter of fact, they likely would settle close to their
release site. If these escapees do survive on their own they would soon be
easy to find because they would construct nests. The nest is key to quaker
survival. The worry over wild living quakers is truly misplaced.