THE QUAKER NEWS

JULY 1997

 

FROM THE EDITOR

 

Dick Ivy, Educational Director of Bird Clubs Of America, has sent us his recently completed information sheet on legality of Quaker Parakeets. We are publishing it in this issue. Compiling this ever changing information is a difficult chore. What is even more difficult is to safely assess just how much influence this information should have on pet ownership.

As an example, Connecticut has on the books regulations prohibiting the sale of Quakers but allowing ownership. Friends there tell me that Quakers are to be found in many pet shops and are even advertised for sale in the local newspapers. In Georgia the emphasis seems to be on prohibiting transporting these birds across the state line. I have traveled back and forth across Georgia, to and from adjoining states, to attend bird shows, dozens of times. To date, no one has ever stopped me to check if there were Quaker Parakeets in all those cages in the back of my station wagon.

As David Wright has explained in articles in previous editions of our news letter, the highly individual nesting habits of the Quakers actually control their spread in the wild. When the fledglings leave home they rarely move more than 500 yards from the nest site. This recognized authority on feral Quakers assures us that they pose little if any threat to being a problem in the US.

We have subscribers in every one of the states where outright bans on ownership exist. We are working with elected officials. If we unite in any cause we have the power to make changes. 

                       FROM OUR READERS

Dear Linda;

We enjoy reading articles by other "owners" about their green family members. Our Ollie is a great little friend. He started traveling with us after about two weeks, and has been in about 31 states. We’re going to the New England states in about a month. He loves to travel and asks "Can we go?" when we leave the house. Sherry from Georgia

You apparently have had no problems in entering the states with laws forbidding Quakers. I have heard tales of owners being stopped at the state line, particularly in California, with demands that the Quaker be sent to another state. Perhaps you have encountered border patrols who are not too familiar with the various species and are easily put off by giving your Monk another name. We would be interested in hearing about your experiences.

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Dear Linda;

Micki, my Quaker Parakeet, is a favorite pet for my visitors. He loves to talk and it seems that he knows the right thing to say. (Here Adele included a complete page listing the various sentences Micki speaks. Among the most interesting are " Get up you sleepy head." "Good morning Merry Sunshine, and "How are you today?" "Turn the TV off." And "Take me to Mac Donalds.") She continues - The nicest thing Micki did for me is to call me Adele on his own. I didn’t teach him my name - he taught himself.

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Dear Linda;

I have a little Quaker and it amuses me no end. I have a neighbor who brought me over this little bird, cage and all, hoping to bring me out of depression. I wasn’t happy then. I had it just two days when it did wonders for me and no money could buy it from me now. She says many words and phrases but the most interesting is an old jingle "Dad’s Old Fashioned Root Beer." I would stand in front of her cage (She is on top most of the time.) singing that jingle. One night I was in the kitchen doing dishes while she was in the living room alone and she said it over and over. I couldn’t believe my ears. She is a little doll and so entertaining.

As you can tell when I start talking about my little Quaker "Snuggie" I go on and on. Kathryn from Indiana

What a wonderful neighbor you have. Although it wasn’t written about a Quaker I am including a little article of mine published in Bird Talk a long time ago. Our birds are often the best medicine for us.

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Dear Linda;

What causes my Quakers to shave the eggs to membrane (killing the babies} a day or so before the eggs are to hatch? The Quakers are on Netherlands Vita Crunch pellets and anything else they will eat in small amounts. Charlie from North Carolina

It is pretty disturbing to get the eggs that far and lose the babies. I have never experienced this shaving of the eggs but with occasional egg eaters I have tried putting a cuttle bone in the nest box when I set them up, replacing it as they chew it down. If that doesn’t work, replace their eggs with artificial eggs, incubating the real ones. As the babies hatch exchange them for the artificial eggs, allowing the parents to take over the chore of feeding from day one. When possible, I have given the eggs to an already nesting pair of good parents, marking them with the nest box number of the true parents.

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Dear Linda;

I wrote to you two years ago about whether to return my "Willie" to an aviary when she was severely mutilating herself. I took your advice and kept her ( which I wanted to do anyway). She wore a collar for six months and when we took it off she picked pin feathers but did not mutilate herself. A few months later the Vet put her on hormones for 9 months and it worked. For the last 5 months she has been plucking out all pin feathers and she chews her leg a bit, but she is not mutilating and ripping off her skin. She is still delightful and funny and I hope that a cure will be found someday soon. Susan from Michigan

 

Dear Linda;

Back in early "94 I found my Quaker in my yard. Since then he has been a great companion. Over the years I have had him I have been trying to introduce him to a variety of foods. His favorite pastime is to get into the cockatiel cage (I have six tiels in this big cage) and play with their toys. He chases the tiels but has never done anything more than pull on a tail or two. He was in that cage originally with the tiels but when they all had crooked tails I put him in another cage with my one aggressive cockatiel. They respect each others’ corners. I have been trying to decide if he would like a buddy like a conure - someone who is about the same size. I haven’t found any good candidates yet. Pam from Florida

Not all of the small conures can be depended on to get along with other species. Our readers report all sorts of friendships between the most unlikely varieties - but go carefully. Birds can severely injure or even kill each other.

 

ANY SUCCESS WITH POTTY TRAINING?

 

We have had a number of requests for information on potty training our Quakers. We have had two articles on this subject in the Quaker News (April, 1994 and January 1996). Perhaps some of our readers have had success either by following this advice or by other methods. I have to admit that I have never found either the time or the patience to even attempt this. Please share your experiences with us - good or bad.

Just in case yours is not a success story, to get droppings off upholstery and carpets, scrape off solids and sprinkle with baking soda. When dry, brush briskly with an old tooth brush and then vacuum. I know that this works.

 

A LITTLE BIRD MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE

BY Linda Greeson

Grandma was nearing the age of 98 when we introduced her to Squeeker. He was a little Gray Cheeked parakeet, one of my own hand fed babies. We gave him the name Squeeker because even at a few weeks of age he was standing on his tip toes, begging for food in a strange, shrill voice. He was the smallest of the clutch but had such an endearing personality that I couldn’t bear to part with him. I added him to our already too large collection of pets.

Grandma had always been a bright, interesting little lady. For years she had gotten around only with difficulty but kept busy with crocheting and reading. She was interested in everyone who came to our house. Over the last month she had changed drastically. She sat in her usual corner of the patio, but her fragile old hands rested idly on her crocheting, and books sat unread on the table beside her. She ate little and took no interest in the activity around her. All of our efforts to rouse her from her lethargy were fruitless until I tried wheeling Squeeker’s cage over to her chair.

Theirs was an instant love affair. He delighted her by whistling "Dixie" and performing on his swing. She became interested in teaching him to talk, and he was an apt pupil. His voice remained high and shrill, but he pronounced his words quite distinctly and the high pitch was just right for her defective hearing. They were completely devoted. She did not resume her crocheting or reading but spent more waking time enjoying the little bird in his cage close by her chair.

Squeeker learned to say "Good Morning" when Grandma first settled in her chair. He accepted tidbits from her meals with many "thankyous". He seemed to adapt his activity to her pattern. When she napped with her head resting back against the cushions, he either sat quietly or napped too. As soon as she awakened he became active again in entertaining her. He did not settle down to sleep in the evenings until Grandma was taken off to her room for bed.

The day came when Grandma was no longer able to leave her bed. The doctor said that her old heart had just given out and that there was just nothing left to help her. At the same time we noticed a scratch on Squeeker’s leg that seemed to be infected, and he too seemed very sick. The Vet treated him with antibiotics and an ointment for the injured area but he did not seem to improve. The infected area was healing but he still sat quietly on his perch all day without whistling or talking. He ate very little and soon lost his plump, round look. His shiny plumage became drab.

Thinking that it might do them both good, one afternoon I wheeled Squeeker’s cage in next to Grandma’s bed. She was too ill to give him more than a weak smile before she dropped back into the deep sleep that soon she would never awaken from. Squeeker brightened up when I first brought him into the room and called out "Good Morning" several times. After that he sat silently watching her for some time, but he seemed so sad that I quietly wheeled him out to his usual place on the patio beside her chair.

Soon that chair was empty for good, and shortly afterwards there was an empty cage next to it. The Vet said that the infection had responded nicely to the antibiotic and he could not understand why Squeeker had died. I understood. I knew that with the loss of his beloved companion his heart too had just given out. It was Squeeker’s companionship that gave Grandma some extra time in this world. I will always be grateful to him for the pleasure he brought to the last months of an old lady’s life.

 

THE FLAPS OVER QUAKERS

Courtesy of Bird Clubs Of America

 

Quakers (Monks) make large nests of twigs and such, and raise large clutches in them.

Electric companies don’t like them building on their transmitter poles, and complain to the state.

Homeowners don’t like them because in breeding season Quakers in nearby nests chase away

the native birds from their feeding areas. ( we know of one backyard where the Quakers and others take turns at the feeding bench.)

Quakers are hardy and can live in zero degree weather.

People who bought Quakers at $50 years ago or received them free released them when they could not bear the rachety screaming of such wild birds in captivity.

 

WHAT CAN AVICULTURISTS DO TO REDUCE THE OBJECTIONS OF HOMEOWNERS AND GOVERNMENT?

Band all Quaker babies.

Sell only to educated pet owners/breeders.Have potential pet owners observe, even help, hand feed babies before taking them home.

If you are accustomed to giving Quakers free time outside their cages, have their wings clipped to prevent accidental escape.

If you no longer want the bird for whatever reason (marriages, divorce, allergy, going overseas,etc.)find a breeder to give your Quaker(s) rather than give them liberty.

Don’t let veterinarians remove leg bands. You might have to move to a state that requires them.

If you are a leader or influential in a bird club, publicize your state laws concerning Quakers. If in a state that has restrictions, organize those who could meet with the state regulators ( different names in different states) when regulations are up for review to arrive at reasonable and effective laws. State regulators are usually most reasonable to reasonable folks and want to have laws that can be effective. Often states copy regulations of other states thinking there must be some good reason for the restriction there.

Organize/research/ get state approval for a rescue group to take babies from unwanted nests in trees, etc. Band babies. In banned states adults may be euthanized.

If your state has no laws but you have Quakers, be sure to write stories and spread the word about the voluntary responsibilities of owners and breeders.

Bird Clubs Of Virginia club presidents and directors, a zoo director, a commercial store, and others met in Richmond and reasoned with reasonable Virginia regulators at their invitation on restrictions on pest birds. They settled on grandfathering those Quakers already owned, issuing permits for them free for a period of six months. Owners would have to inform VIDGF of dispositions and respond to a 5 year renewal of the permit.

Quakers bred in Virginia must have a closed band and folks can own, sell, buy, or trade such Quakers without a permit, including from pet stores. Some Veterinarians, unaware of the regulation, are removing the bands even though the bird has no physical injury. Even then, the owner should request and keep a certificate of band removal from the Veterinarian.

OUTRIGHT BANS ON OWNERSHIP OF QUAKERS

California, Hawaii, Wyoming, Kansas, Pennsylvania (will euthanize}Kentucky, Rhode Island

ALLOWING OWNERSHIP WITH CONDITIONS

Connecticut - OK to own but not sell

Georgia - owning, breeding discouraged but legal. Cannot transport into state.

Kentucky - you can own a MONK Parakeet but Quakers banned!

New Jersey - Breeding only by strict permit - (

New York - close banded only - registration

Ohio - clipped wings only. Ohio subscribers to Linda Greeson’s Quaker News were instrumental in getting it changed from "pinioned" wings.

Virginia- close banded only

DOCUMENTED CHANGES OR CORRECTIONS WELCOMED

 

FROM OUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER

ODD COUPLE - BIRD PICKS CAT FOR BUDDING FRIENDSHIP

Kiki and the parrot.

No, this isn’t some goofy movie about a pair of oddball cops like Freebie and the Bean. This is a true life, heartwarming story about two enemies at birth, who overcame their petty prejudices to form a friendship that tests nature itself. You see, Buddy is the parrot. And Kiki, Buddy’s best buddy is a cat. Instead of Kiki being at Buddy’s throat, Buddy is comfortably perched atop Kiki’s head.

Buddy’s owner discovered their attraction by accident about two months ago. She was in the back of her house and thought she heard one of her grandchildren calling to her daughter’s cat, Kiki.

"Here Kiki. Here Kiki" I heard,she said. The calls continued and she wondered why the grandchildren didn’t just let Kiki in. Until she entered the living room. No one was there except Buddy, her nine month old Quaker parrot. He was frantically pacing along his perch calling for his feline friend. I told Buddy that Kiki wasn’t there, she said, but Buddy persisted. "Kiki’s a good boy." He repeated over and over. I opened up the door to show him but when I looked down there was Kiki. The cat promptly entered the house, much to Buddy’s delight.

One day the Quaker tangled with the tabby when Kiki was resting on top of Buddy’s cage. Buddy was trying to snack on Kiki’s tail. Kiki shrieked out loud but did not retaliate. That is the only incident the owner says but despite the curious friendship she stays in the room when Buddy is out of the cage.

Buddy will tell Kiki " Give me a big kiss." Says the owner, but I tell him "Be careful. Kiki is still a cat."

 

 

QUAKER PARAKEET INTELLIGENCE

Beth Eldridge - Flying Colors Aviary

 

Just how intelligent is a Quaker? This question is one I am frequently asked by people thinking of bringing a Quaker Parakeet into their lives and homes. The answer that I give is based on years of living with these incredible birds. I say "They are smarter than you are." How did I arrive at this conclusion? Well, let’s see ..

First and foremost, the Quaker Parakeet uses human language, and very frequently uses it correctly and to the advantage of the bird. Let me use some examples to illustrate this point.

I brought home my first and most loved Quaker, Beeper, 5 years ago. At 8 weeks old he was just weaned and a loving, interactive sweetheart. He was quickly established in a cage in our living room-dining room area and soon became a regular member of the family.

Several weeks after his arrival he began to say "Hi!", and his vocabulary rapidly progressed after that . . . soon he was chattering baby talk and singing constantly. I assumed that he was just mimicking the sounds around him without understanding them at all. That assumption was soon proved to be groundless.

My first clue that my bird used language as we do was when I heard him sing a song that I had not taught him. He had taken his favorite saying "good bird" and set it to a very simple tune of his own making. I was amazed to hear him singing "Good bird. Good bird. You’re a good bird" followed by many kiss noises. But still I felt that this could not really be a sign of intelligence, just excellent mimicry.

The next observation I made was that Beeper was able to identify his bath water as being "wet" and being a place for "sploshies", That didn’t seem exceptionally intelligent to me until Beeper and I surprised my husband coming out of the shower. Beeper looked at David, declared that he was "wet-wet-wet" and then inquired "Sploshies?" Obviously a bird who knew a wet person when he saw one!

The most conclusive event took place when Beeper was about a year old. Our excellent Avian Vet had just pronounced Beeper fat and we had placed him on a diet. His disposition, not unlike a dieting human, suffered. In fact, he was just plain grumpy! His best friend was a sweet little Peach Faced Lovebird named Opal. The two of them often played on top of Beeper’s cage and had always been so good together that I never felt the need to supervise.

David and I were eating our dinner while the two birds played on the cage top. Suddenly the Lovebird let out a screech of a type we had never heard before, and we both spun around to see Opal cowering on the top of the cage, obviously hurt, while Beeper towered over him.

I jumped up and ran to the birds. A quick check showed no

permanent damage to Opal, but I was furious with my Quaker. I screamed at him "What did you do to Opal! You hurt Opal!" Then to my utter amazement Beeper ran over to Opal, kissed him all over and said "I’m sorry!" This was a phrase that he had NOT been taught! David and I looked at each other wide eyed. David said "Maybe you had better stop talking baby talk to this bird."

There are many other incidents I could relate regarding Quaker intelligence, but I have come to take for granted that my Quakers understand simple concepts (and some not so simple ones), work at their relationships with their mates and with people, have a terrific sense of humor and play, and enjoy learning, composing, and singing music. All these traits speak of an intelligence that is quick, social, and verbal. Quakers are far from being only mimics. They are friends in the true sense of the word.

 

ARE YOU A BIRD ADDICT ?

Mary Vesper

 

Answer Yes or No to the following questions:

1.Your bird eats better than you do.

You have more goodies in your grocery cart for you birds than you do for yourself.

You spend more on bird food than human food.

You consider cleaning cages family time.

Your bird room gets remodeled before your house.

The baby pictures you show off to friends are of birds.

You carry pictures of your birds in your wallet with your kids and grandkids

After you get your check and pay bills, you try to stretch it to buy another bird.

You’ve ever bought a bird "on time"

You think all baby birds are adorable

Your idea of eating out is usually MacDonalds so you can get home quickly and feed the bappies. Or if you do go out to a sit down dinner you check out the salad bar for goodies for the birds. You also can’t seem to enjoy your birds’ favorite vegies . . without them.

You make your spouse and your birds scrambled eggs and forget and give your spouse the ones with the shells. ( Its OK because he’s a bird addict too.)

You let your kids talk you into taking birds to school so THEY can give a report on caring for birds . The Rain Forest Extinction, etc (I’ve given most of the reports and deserve an "A" for my grade point.)

You make unbuttered. Unsalted (yuch) popcorn because the birds like it and try to sneak butter on yours later.

You go out somewhere and have feathers on you and or seed in your pockets.

You’re in public and someone notices bird droppings on you . . . and you don’t freak out.

You consider the bird club meeting the most important event of the month.

You end up eating junk food because you are too busy and tired from making healthy bird food.

You fight with your spouse over who gets to read Bird Talk/Breeder first.

Your remote control buttons don’t work right because all those tasty buttons have been chewed off.

You constantly have scratches on your arms from your birdie pals and close encounters with the cages.

You consider going hundreds of miles to bird shows, staying up all night talking to bird people, getting up at 5AM to put your birds in show cages, chew your finger nails while they judge your birds - usually do this for two days. Then drive home - and that’s your idea of vacation and fun

IF YOUR "YES" ANSWERS TOTAL"

0 - 4 You’ve probably gotten your first bird and aren’t addicted . . . yet!

5 - 8 Be prepared, Addiction is creeping up on you. You’re acquiring more birds, buying bird food in bulk, and starting to

attend bird shows and fairs.

9 - 14 You are a bird addict. It is strongly recommended that you join a bird club. While you will not be cured, you will be surrounded by wonderful people suffering from the same addiction.

15 + Forget it - you are addicted for life. You should be

on the board or on committees for your bird club. You are in it because you love birds. You are the ultimate bird addict. Welcome to the club!

PRODUCT WARNING

There has been so much published lately about the dangers to our birds from scented candles I will only give it a mention just in case some of you have not read about this. Apparently the volatile oils in some candles and in plug in air freshners can cause serious illness or even death to our birds.

 

 

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