FROM THE EDITOR
One of our readers has made the
suggestion that we all make an effort to show our Quakers when ever
possible. I know that we all share his belief that our birds are not
appreciated by enough people. Even those devoted to other species are
often not familiar with the charms of our Quakers. As part of our
efforts to eradicate unjust regulations prohibiting and limiting them in
many states, this would be an excellent way to introduce them to many
people. Another reader sent me a newspaper clipping in which a state
official was quoted as referring to our Quakers as "birds of
prey." I can think of nothing more ridiculous.
I cannot, however, help but
have mixed feelings about urging all of you to take your pet Quakers to
shows. I confess that although I show my cockatiels all over the
country, these are birds bred specifically for showing. They are housed
in an aviary entirely separate from the larger building housing our
other breeding birds.
I never show my pets, and only
very rarely the exotics, even though I have some very fine specimens.
You will not see my blue Quakers on exhibition at shows, in spite of the
fact that I would appreciate the attention I know that they would
The reason for my reluctance to
show is largely my fear of exposing the birds to disease. The stewards
checking the birds in at the shows make a quick visual check and
eliminate any bird with obvious signs of illness. We all know that birds
do not have to look sick to be carrying disease. Many carry organisms
that cause them no symptoms but will seriously effect others who have
not been previously exposed.
Some birds react
poorly to being transported to strange surroundings
and are stressed by the noise and confusion. Others, with different
personalities, thoroughly enjoy the experience and obviously delight in
Perhaps I am being
over cautious. There are undoubtedly thousands of birds shown each year
without the slightest ill effect. I cannot in good conscience not bring up
the down side of showing birds. No matter how slight the possibility of
danger, be aware before making your decision.
FROM OUR READERS
is the most loveable, funny, sweet bird I have ever had. Even the Vet is
amazed that he won't bite at all. You can do anything with him. My husband
hates screaming birds, so I have taught Chili "whisper words."
When he screams I get him to start whispering. Geri from Oklahoma
We have had a number
of readers report that "whisper words" have been effective in
controlling screaming. It's worth a try!
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I now have all of my
Quakers outside in an aviary. They seem quite content and love to make all
kinds of noise. I'm very hopeful that this can be at least a moderate
success. This will be my first try with Quaker breeding.
I do have a
question. A six year old Quaker was given to me. I tried him with the
colony birds, but they would not let him on any perches. In fact, he had
to sleep on the floor. I rescued him and play with him in the house, but I
think that he is neurotic. When he sits with me he always ends up on my
shoulder and licks my face and ears. I don't turn toward him because
anything coming toward him gets bitten. So the question is - Why does he
lick my face? It seems awfully strange but this is something he does
continually. Erin from North Carolina
Birds use their
tongues to feel and explore much as we do our fingers. Perhaps your bird
is curious. Quakers, like most birds, show their love and affection by
preening each other. Perhaps that is what your pet is doing - or maybe he
just likes the taste of your makeup or some cream or lotion you are using.
Whatever his reasons he is not necessarily neurotic, but watch that biting
habit so close to your face.
Our bird Chet, a two
year old Quaker, spends about 8 to 10 hours a day alone on weekdays.
Should we get another bird to keep him company? Is he too old for a new
bird? What about a non-Quaker bird? Jen from Ohio
We have mixed
reports on getting another bird for company, Quaker or any other species.
For a few it seems to work, but more often the owner who did not have time
enough from a busy work week to satisfy the needs of one bird cannot
possibly keep two happy. Many birds are jealous and resentful of the
newcomer. If they do bond to each other, the owner loses the relationship
that made the pet so satisfactory. I would suggest trying frequent changes
of toys, TV or radio on timers, and lots of attention before and after
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We have a question
concerning our four year old Quaker Oats. Recently Oats has not been as
happy or playful as he was when he was younger. Oats receives new toys and
plenty of attention from everyone. Still, his playfulness is steadily
decreasing. Secondly, we have noticed that Oats does not try to
"mate" with us any longer. When do Quakers grow out of their
mating stage and will this cause them to become less active and/or bored?
In addition, we
believe that jealousy may play a role in his lack of activity. We recently
acquired a new male Quaker, Puff. At first we believed Oat's change in
behavior was due to the new bird. Yet we attend separate colleges and the
two birds spend little time together. Obviously when they are together
Oats withdraws, but when the birds are apart Oats is still less active. Do
Quakers tend to lose their liveliness as they mature? Is it common for
Quakers to withdraw due to traveling from place to place? Is there
something you can recommend to increase Oat's liveliness and playfulness?
Clarence and Amanda
Four is certainly
too young for Oats to become less active and to lose his interest in
mating. He is a long way from
an old bird - really just in his prime. His reaction of jealousy is
certainly predictable. Perhaps traveling from place to place, always
stressful, combined with a rival for your attention appearing on the scene
has just been too much for him to tolerate. My concern, however, is that
your close observation of behavior changes indicate some physical problem
and I suggested an exam by an Avian Vet to eliminate the possibility that
he is suffering from some sub-acute condition. If he is healthy - all the
attention you can find time to give him will restore his good nature.
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I have always been
afraid of birds but around a year ago my husband and I went to a local
bird show. I met a man who owned a Quaker named Cookie and fell in love
with it. There were no Quakers to be found that day and I was talked into
a baby Love Bird. That was a mistake, but it did teach me to hand feed a
baby bird. I could not get Cookie out of my mind, so for several months we
went to local shows but still no luck in finding my Quaker.
I was ready to give
up when the owner of a pet shop I go to offered me two small baby Quakers
at a reasonable price for me to hand feed. I gave one to my daughter and
Grandsons and kept our Jade who we love so dearly. Jade is six months old
now and has grown very close to my husband who just adores her. I am sure
that you get a lot of letters about these charming little gifts from God.
I hope someday to raise them. Jonell from Illinois.
I want to share a
recent event in my life concerning my bird babies. We have an aviary with
exotic Finches,, Cockatiels, Splendids, and Diamond Doves. My
"children" live in the house with us, two seven year old Quakers
which I have owned since they were on one feeding per day- Abby and Gus, a
seven year old blue front Amazon named Snoopy, and a six year old black
headed Caique - Frog. Most recently Frog was in the aviary with a male
Caique named Thumper. Thumper was a dream bird. When ever I went into
their flight he would fly down on my shoulder and nibble on my ear and
neck until I would wrestle with his feet while he lay on his back. I loved
that bird with all my heart and he loved me. He died about three weeks
ago. I cried for several days when I went into the aviary after he died.
Since Thump died,
Abby the Quaker, has all of a sudden become unusually affectionate with
me. When she is out she will now fly into every room until she finds me,
then fly to my shoulder as close to my neck as possible. She makes a
buzzing sound, whispers her name, and rubs her soft head against my neck
The only thing I can
make of this is that THE BIRD MAKER has seen fit to have another bird love
me as much as Thumper did. I do not want to sound corny or like some
religious fanatic. This event is true and still unfolding. I can only see
good coming from it. I firmly believe that people who truly love and
cherish their birds are embarking on a spiritual journey which will reward
them to the end of life. My Quakers are intelligent, great talkers,
playful, affectionate, and great company. Anyone who acquires a Quaker
will be astounded by the bird's personality. I hope that someday they will
be recognized for being true gems of the avian world. I hope that you find
some value in my sharing of this information. Susan from Alabama
BIRD AEROBICS AND
from Learning Tracks, published
Just as exercise is
essential for our physical and mental health, the same is the case for
your companion birds. Therefore it is important that you think about what
your bird might be doing in its natural environment and then try to
simulate the experience for it. Types of exercise can be divided into two
categories: physical and mental exercises. PHYSICAL EXERCISE: To provide
quality exercise, supervised care outside the cage should be a part of
your bird's routine. They love the exercise and the excitement of their
extended home. But before you let the bird out of its home be sure to run
through the following checklist:
Remove all poisonous plants.
Cover mirrors and windows (if bird is fully flighted) Keep all doors
closed and locked (so that an unexpected visitor doesn't let the bird
Do not use the
kitchen stove during free time.
Keep all dogs and
cats out of the room (unless they are well socialized to birds) Small
children can injure or kill small birds and can be injured by large birds.
Be sure to be present when children are enjoying the bird's free time
Leave the bird's cage door open
so that it can return when
it feels like it.
Birds of the parrot
family are chewers by nature and must
be watched with extra care.
TOE EXERCISE is also
important for birds. To enable it, simply provide clean, dry perches of
various sizes. The birds will get the exercise they need and it will help
to keep their nails trim. Perches should be oval in shape, widely spaced,
and at different levels for exercise value. Allowing your bird to use your
hands as a ladder - stepping from right to left hand - is fun, good
exercise, and stimulates the human-animal bond.
Birds also need
frequent BEAK EXERCISE. A cuttlefish bone or lava stone should be provided
to the bird for exercising the beak and keeping it sharp and trim. Members
of the parrot family use their beaks for climbing which is another reason
for having numerous perches available.
Birds need mental stimulation. In other words, they need games, toys, etc.
To provide the necessary stimulation you should consider the following:
swings, small bells approved for birds. Don't hang anything by string as
the bird could become tangled.
Supervised free time
outside of your bird's home Play gyms which can be placed on top of the
cage or in another location.
If you have provided
for your bird's physical and mental needs you should have a happy,
friendly bird and a good companion animal.
By Ann Selck ( one
of our subscribers)
When Linda Greeson
penned her long-overdue feature on Those Charming Little Quakers, she must
have had my husband Tom in mind."He's too much!" Those who know
Tom say "I think he's lost it," and I, who know the man best,
know he's lost what little he had left. Completely. Absolutely. If you
think I jest, read on.
ITEM "Tom spent
three hours picking his baby Quaker from a clutch
of six." says Linda Ward as she shakes her head. She and her husband
Ray own a fine Miami bird emporium where Tom's already a legend.
"Actually, Friday picked Tom, but I thought we'd have to bring in
lunch for the guy. It wasn't a whole lot different from a pro sports
draft" Linda says nostalgcally. "Friday Ross Perot" (his
true name) is named for the day of his adoption.
ITEM - The birdie
was the cheapest part of this deal. Two cages, two perches (one a
magnificent cast iron affair for his office), dozens of toys, a nifty
fits-under-the-airplaneseat travel cage, and more, are what cost. Linda
and Roy offer free wing clips for life to anyone who buys a bird from
them. Smart marketing, I say, because Tom never gets away from his free
monthly pedicure, coiff, and beak buff for less than a twenty dollar bill.
ITEM - Friday's a
boat bird. He joined the crew of our sailboat two days before we sailed
off to the Bahamas for a month."It's just perfect," Tom crowed.
"I'll hand feed him twice a day....and we will bond." Bonded
isn't the half of it as Friday has played duck twice. Each time Tom has
wallowed in the harbor to save Friday's soggy green life - clothes,
wallet, watch, shoes, designer sun glasses and all.
ITEM - Role
reversals: Friday thinks Tom is his mother... and so does Tom. Since I
don't pay all that much attention to the little green money burner, I'm
the father. "Now I know why all Mothers are so radiant!" clucks
Tom, eyes aglow with motherly love, to anyone who listens. I've gotten
used to seeing their eyes roll.
ITEM - Tom saves
every feather. Really! The devoted Mom can't bear to see his son shuck
perfectly good feathers, so he saves every one - even the down - in his
feather jar. You'd think his jar would soon over-floweth, but nay, Momsey
puts feathers in all the mail he sends. Green feathers appear under
envelope flaps and under stamps. Worse yet, the crazed architect keeps
feathers in his briefcase in case anyone might want some. Strangely, some
ITEM - Mother sports
a "doo-rag... In public. What's a "doorag?", you query,
They're old tea towels he clips around his neck. The "doo"
stands for doo-doo. These doo splattered rags are unattractive in the
extreme. Need I say more?
ITEM Aside from
being he "second smartest person in the family" as the grande
dame likes to say of his son, Friday is a people magnet. For some reason,
people love that little green feather duster. What's the result of all
this? Friday now gets the bulk of the mail, the faxes, the calls, even
Email from around the world.
It saddens me to
spill more dark family secrets, but you get the picture. I have never
before thought of Tom as a closet case, but now.... Tom may think of
himself as a devoted Mom, yet he changed exactly one human diaper ( and it
wasn't No. 2!) while he oversaw my raising of our two children. Now he
adores being a parent.
Last March Tom lost
what little he held in reserve. He announced his intention to host (or is
it hostess?) Friday's first birthday party. Invitations went to Friday's
oldest and dearest friends, his later friends, and emerging friends, and
finally it seems to anyone who happened to smile upon the little loud
mouthed guano machine. "Nobody will come." I said with
assurance. "Hold a party, they will come" was Tom's quiet
The idea for a
birthday party for a parrot was ridiculous. . . no matter how human the
nippy,yippy bag-offeathers seemed. This was the first child's birthday
party our new mom ever had anything to do with, so he was sailing in fog.
The calls started coming. 'Yeah, sounds great." "We'll be
there." said our stock broker, only a casual friend
of Friday's. "A
parrot party! Great! " said Linda, Friday's pet broker. Friday's
oldest friends from deep in the keys and in Ft Lauderdale called to
confirm. Before long my kook had 21 who pledged attendance. This party
might happen. Fear gripped me. So did panic.
daughter Susan, a chip off the old nuevo madre, is the main reason Friday
has taken over Tom's life and our yacht. She mothers Joan, a two year old
Quaker. Tom bird sat Joan for two four day stints and fell beak over belly
in love with the plump green girl. Susan thought the idea great and
offered to help with the party. . . if Joan attended too since her B-day
was also in the spring. This was like the blind teaching the lame to clog
- the kook and kookette and their two seed eaters set about planing in
earnest. I visualized this birthday ball as a wreck on the rocks. Boy was
I ever wrong!
It hadn't rained for
a month - until April First, the day
of our first feather festival. Roiling Payne's gray skies threatened as
our green garbed guests started arriving. No aprons for Friday's aging ma
- he glowed in his lime green Lily Pulitzer blazer, Quaker gray slacks,
blue parrot shirt that befitted a drug dealer, and his fertilized doo rag.
hostesses (me) set up food tables on thedock
for magnificent lasagne that I made to go along with my garlic bread and
salad. Parrot grog rounded out our menu. Party "china" consisted
of green plastic plates, Quaker gray napkins that looked ominously like
the evening sky, blue plastic cutlery - we duplicated the popular Quaker
color scheme. Grog was served in big green plastic "shooters" on
which people wrote their name with a white grease pencil.
bird gifts, and some thoughtful folks
several. A small colorful mountain of presents grew on the boats teak
decks. What amazed Tom, but not yours truly and probably not you, was the
fact that no one had ever been to a parrot birthday party!
Mumsey was secretive
about his party games, but when I first heard him murmur the word
"games" I knew that he was all the way over the edge. His guests
ran the gamut from old to young, millionaires to thousandaires, and this
eccentric femme was talking about playing kid games.
The first game was
the Ritz Cracker toss, and the local gulls dined well. As daylight waned
the blast matured and the second game - pin the tail on the Quaker...what
else? commenced. Tom stapled the target, the April Quaker centerfold of
Bird Talk, to a big piling. The idea was to pin (tape, really) one of
Friday's recycled tail feathers closest to"the spot"while blind
folded with a genuine doo-rag -freshly washed of course. The winner's
prize was of course a bag stuffed with more of Friday's green and gray
Dinner was served at
the correct time and everyone sat on
deck under cover as darkness and a few sprinkles fell.
The party had gone
beautifully....so far I was amazed. Everyone loved Tom's crazy games, but
suprise-suprise, Friday and Joan were not an excuse for the party. They
whistled and chirped at its center as they stepped easily from hand to
Almost as if by
magic the roar subsided and attention focussed
on Joan and Friday and Susan and Tom and the mountain of presents. As each
was opened the joyful mother would tell everyone how the gift giver fit
into Friday's young life.
gift-opening joke telling session ended I appeared with the birthday cake.
I can't believe the cake, even though I arranged it. The low-cal wallop
sported a green and gray Quaker on white icing, and the words "Happy
Birthday Joan and Friday". I ordered a white cake since chocolate
can be toxic to birds. Orange sherbet, Friday's favorite cold food,
followed the cake.
The soiree started
to break up about 10PM. "Let's do it again next year." was the
chant as people stepped happily from deck to dock. My mouth was agape in
amazement. Friday and Joan were puffed to twice normal size, and Tom and
Susan wore the smug, knowing looks of any hostess.
To sum up the event
- Would I do it again? Yes- in a heartbeat.
Has Tom really lost it? Almost, but the party boosted his credibility. Is
Friday special? Absolutely. He's almost human. Has the past year been
worth it? Yes, every dollar