What I really wanted to
initiate was a Quaker Club. Considering that our members would
be scattered all over the USA, Canada, and even such far away
places as Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands and Australia, this
was not a workable idea. Even if we who are devoted to our
little Quakers, and involved in breeding them, cannot get
together over coffee and doughnuts, we can use The Quaker news
as a substitute.
By way of this
publication we can share stories about our pets, helpful hints
for their care, and questions for which we have not found
I do not want this news
letter to be limited to the editor's experiences and ideas. I
would rather that it serve as a clearing house and a means of
communication between all of you who love Quakers.
So, dash off a note to
me. Nothing formal is required. Let's get our club meetings on
Have you tried using a
Barbecue Grill Brush to remove those dried droppings from the
bottom grill of your Quaker's cage? The brass bristles work just
as well on the cage as on the barbecue. I suggest that you
invest in a new one and keep it just for the cage cleaning
Paula, from Michigan,
writes: Two weeks ago I drove 250 miles round trip to purchase a
hand fed baby Quaker, whose name is aptly called
"Oatmeal." He was eight weeks old, and I still feed
him oatmeal at breakfast."
with Oatmeal, Paula. I know that he will prove worthy of that long
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Tennessee, writes: " I think that Quakers are one of the most
under appreciated birds around - at least in this area they
We all know
that Quakers are generally not recognized as the wonderful pets
they are in many parts of the country. Let's change that!
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from Oklahoma writes: "I am a proud owner of one of these
small parrots (Quakers) and want to give it everything that I am
sure it'll give back in spades. I'm needing information on types
of food, sickness, temperament, how to train a parent raised bird,
what they enjoy as a single bird, and what kinds of treats should
That is a
tall order, Theresa, but bit by bit we will try
to provide you with all this information.
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Illinois, writes: "Please warn your readers to lock or secure
their Quakers' cages well. My first, Buddy, pushed open his cage
door while I was at work, and my dog killed him. I now use a clip
Barb. Our clever little Quakers are really escape artists. We had
one pet who managed to figure out how to open intricate clip
fastenings that gave me trouble to operate. We resorted to a small
padlock, hanging the key well
out of his reach, just in case! On the breeding cages I make a
small box of the cage wire, securing it well on the inside of the
cage with J clips, covering the area around the cage door
fastener. We also completely cover the Quakers' nest boxes with
wire, making a lift up opening with a good fastener to allow for
nestbox inspection. Some of the little rascals have succeeded in
chewing a hole in the nest box large enough for them to fly free.
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Jo An, from
Maryland, wrote to thank me very much for this publication, with
the "very" underlined.
for the thank you, Jo An. I am so happy to hear all the enthusiasm
and interest that is being expressed over our Quaker News. Getting
started on a project like this is a rather worrisome thing to do.
It is so satisfying to hear that many of you share my enthusiasm.
VINES AND LEAVES TOXIC?
article I wrote for Bird Talk Magazine, published in June of 1993,
I described my practice of growing cherry tomato vines just for my
Quakers. In the September issue of the magazine, in the Back Talk
section, a letter from a reader was published stating that he had
found tomato leaves and vines listed as toxic plants. The poison
control center in his area verified this, stating that all greens
on a tomato plant are toxic and should not be given to any bird.
The magazine contacted Dianne Barr at the Animal Control Center at
the University of Illinois who also confirmed this information.
happy, breeding Quakers have been enjoying building their nests
with tomato vines for the past ten years with no ill effects that
I have ever noticed. In spite of my experience otherwise, I
quickly came to the decision to take no chances. Now the birds are
given only the little tomatoes,
no more vines for nesting for them. If there is the slightest
doubt about the toxicity of any plant, the safest course is to
remove it. I do not understand why my birds have not had ill
effects, but I bow to the wisdom of these people at poison control
centers who base their findings on more than the experience of one
ADDITIONS TO OUR FAMILY PETS
My Mother is
now the proud owner of a pair of Quakers. "Mr" is a
lovely visual blue and "Mrs" is a green with a blue
heritage. Mother waited her turn and paid the usual price, and at
first hovered anxiously over her pair, worrying over them because
of the big outlay of money involved. In a very short time she has
become so devoted to them that their cost is no longer the
Mr and Mrs
are housed in a large cage out on her glass enclosed porch, and no
birds ever had it so good. She finished weaning them herself and
now has them eating a more varied and better diet than most
To keep them
entertained she has frequented the toy section
of the local pet shops, always carefully checking with me on the
safety of each new play thing. She insists that they would not
become bored with a toy in a few days if they were not such
intelligent birds. She does have to admit, though, that a toy
removed from the cage and presented a week or so later is
"new" all over again. At present her Quakers are
enjoying a form of bird soccer, knocking a hickory nut around the
bottom of their cage. They rapidly adjusted to having her dog, an
eighty pound Akita, press her nose to the side of the cage to
better observe their antics. They seem to welcome the dogs
attention, showing no fear.
The pair are
still youngsters, but listen attentively as she repeats
"Hello, Mr." and "Hello Mrs". So far they only
reply with busy chattering but I assure her that they will soon
reward her efforts by forming words. I get a daily report from
Mother on her Quakers' progress, and I know that she will consider
news of their first words worthy of publication. As I remember she
was never quite this excited over her grandchildren.
here, even in the south land. Quakers are unusually
hardy little birds and very tolerant of cold weather if they have
been properly acclimated to the low temperatures. Protected from
cold winds, many Quakers are kept in out door aviaries and seem to
do amazingly well.
Florida our temperatures rarely drop below the forties and my
breeding flock is kept in an open aviary with only a wind break
during the coldest weather.
used to the sheltered environment in our homes, require more
protection in the winter months. Drastic changes in temperature
are not well tolerated. The common practice of keeping our homes
comfortably warm during the day but lowering the thermostat
considerably at night can cause problems. The ordinary, thin
cotton cage cover will not sufficiently contain the bird's body
heat to compensate for drastic changes in the temperature of the
room. A portion of a
blanket, or a heavily quilted cage cover, snugly secured around
the cage at night will suffice if you do not lower that thermostat
advise against the use of any form of plastic for a cage cover.
Quakers love to chew and small pieces of plastic material which
are retained in the bird's crop can cause serious illness or even
the loss of your bird.
necessary, change the location of the cage away from the drafts of
an opening door. Avoid keeping the cage too close to a radiator or
hot air vent. Our objective is to maintain as nearly a constant
temperature as possible, with no drastic changes. When you observe
your bird sitting on the perch in a crouched position with his
feathers fluffed out, he is indicating that he is uncomfortably
cool. If he is too warm his feathers will be closely pressed to
his body and he will be breathing with his beak open - much like
our panting after a run on a hot day.
With so many
goodies in our homes, the holiday season has been a difficult time
for pet owners. It is hard to deny the little beggars just a bite
of a chocolate chip cookie, or not to enjoy watching our bird
cleverly handle a small pretzel. We excuse this indulgence with
the thought that just a little bit will not hurt him.
treats we must consider that the weight of the average Quaker is
only 125 Grams. This translates into roughly four ounces, or only
about .0023% of a human owner weighing 135 pounds. ( I chose 135
pounds as just an arbitrary figure. After the holidays,
congratulations to those of you this number fits!)
proportionately, how much caffeine, sugar, or salt a human would
be consuming to ingest 400 to 500 times the amount given to the
bird. Give your bird just one quarter of that chocolate chip
cookie and the equivalent amount to yourself would be at least 100
cookies. One teaspoon of your morning coffee is the proportionate
amount of caffeine you would be drinking in four to five hundred
teaspoons - about ten cups of coffee. My figures are only
approximations, and subject to correction, but even if not
completely accurate the point that a little bit can hurt is very
Let us all
make a new Years Resolution for the better health
of our pets. " Only healthy treats in 1994." They will
not feel deprived if you offer a grape, a slice of apple, a bit of
whole wheat bread or muffin, an unsalted peanut, or one of the new
bird treat cookies now showing up in the pet stores. They will be
stronger and healthier birds as a result. Refusing them unhealthy
treats is a demonstration of our love for them. Anything
containing salt in considerable amounts, large amounts of fat and
sugar, and even small amounts of caffeine found in coffee, tea,
chocolate, or colas, should be considered harmful, no matter how
small the amount.
HINT FOR OUR BREEDERS
always enjoyed hand feeding my baby Quakers. I never seem to tire
of this task, but the daily emptying, washing, and sanitizing of
the brooder boxes is less than a fun activity - especially with a
line up of a half dozen or more.
plastic storage boxes, 10" x 14" x 7" high to
contain the babies I am hand feeding until they graduate to a
cage. To line the boxes I now cut off about 10 inches from the top
of a brown paper grocery bag, folded down flat. The amount cut off
can be altered to fit the height of the container you use. I open
the bag out, placing the folded, cut off section in the bottom to
square it up. I add a few folded paper towels and a generous layer
of shavings in the bottom.
very nicely into the brooder boxes, and can easily be lifted out
and disposed of with no mess. Changed daily, moisture does not
seep through the bag to contaminate the box. If it should, a quick
scrub with hot water and soap, or a soak in a bleach solution is
simple enough to accomplish.
manager of our local grocery store sold me one hundred of the bags
for only seven cents each, but family and friends are only to
happy to save their bags for recycling by the Quakers.
FOR OUR KANSAS FRIENDS
received a letter from Pati Hazell, President of the Kansas Avicultural
Society, telling me that Quakers are now illegal in Kansas. She
states that Article XVI 2316-1 of the state law prohibits
transportation, possession, or lease of the Monk Parakeet,
Myiopsitta monarchus (Quaker).
The law goes
on to say that any of this bird species possessed
by persons prior to February 1, 1978, may be retained in
possession, in closed confinement, by making application to the
that this regulation has caused some real grief. To protect their
owners, the KAS had to prohibit the showing of Quakers at their
show. Prior to the show, the organization was informed that a law
enforcement officer would be at the show to take possession of any
Quakers then and there and destroy them on the spot.
Pati and her
husband are making every possible effort to fight this law,
contacting numerous agencies of government and enlisting the aid
of the American Federation of Aviculturists. For more information
write Pati Hazell, 1528 S. Pershing, Wichita, Kansas, 67218.
I bought our
first Quaker last July, which is the parrot who now owns us.
"Joshua" has been a smashing hit with the family. He has
tons of charm and character. He loves to ride on my four year old
son's head and enjoys antagonizing the cat. Josh is even warming
the heart of my husband - the same man who once said "NO, you
are not buying a bird!"
good I suppose you can receive bad as well. Except I am not sure
if this is "bad." Jack is only seven months old, and I
believe he has become a bit too attached to me. When I am holding
him and even scratch him the slightest bit on his belly, he
becomes "turned on." It's rather embarrassing. I'm very
much an amateur bird owner and perhaps this is normal. Does this
sound like he is sexually frustrated? If this is what I think it
is, should I find Josh a new home where he would be able to breed?
Or is this like a teenager phase and it will pass? Do you know if
all parrots do this?
I think that
you have diagnosed Josh's behavior very well.
He is most likely a young male (females rarely exhibit
this behavior) whose hormones are starting to percolate. The urge
to reproduce and keep the species going is instinctive behavior
and he has no inhibitions.
It has been
my experience that this embarrassing behavior
will gradually become less frequent unless you allow it to become
a habit. Try scratching his head, distracting him with a treat or
a toy, or even scold him and return him to the cage when it
starts. Quakers form habits very quickly. Once a behavior pattern
is established by repetition over even a short period of time, it
is difficult to break.
like such a delightful pet it would be a shame
to send him off into a breeding situation. He has learned to
appreciate all of your attention and his place in your family at
an early age. I doubt that he would be a happier bird as just a
breeder. He has bonded to you, and well may not even accept a
female Quaker in your place. Try to control his embarrassing
behavior, yes, but until he has learned to demonstrate his love
for you in a more acceptable way, understand that he is just
following the instincts natural to any animal. Do let us know how
you and Josh progress with your training.