Myiopsitta monachus, The Quaker Parrot, aka The Monk Parakeet, is a species of parrot that originated in the temperate areas of Argentina and Brazil in South America. It is the only member of the genus Myiopsitta.
There are four subspecies:
• Myiopsitta monachus , southeastern Brazil, Uruguay,
• Myiopsitta monachus calita, western and southern Argentina
• Myiopsitta monachus cotorra, southeastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina
• Myiopsitta monachus luchsi an isolated population in Bolivia which is smaller and may deserve species status.
The Quaker Parrot was originally brought to the United States as a pet in the late 1960s. Many escaped or were intentionally released, and populations were allowed to proliferate. By the early 1970s, it was established in seven states, and by 1995 it had spread to eight more. There are now thought to be approximately 100,000 in Florida alone.
They are banned in several states due to their ability to live in the wild and adapt to just about any climate. They are considered destructive and invasive by many states and even countries. In Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, Quaker Parrots are regarded as serious agricultural pests.
The Quaker Parrot gets their name from their unusual behavior which looks like they’re quaking and shaking. In reality this head bobbing and shaking behavior is quite normal. They grow to approximately 12 inches in length and are primarily green in color.
They have a grey face, neck and chest and like the Ringneck Parakeet they come in a variety of color mutations including blue, yellow and cinnamon. Their coloration and size means the Quaker Parrot is often confused with the Conure.
Quaker Parrots that they build stick nests unlike the majority of parrots and parakeets which live in holes in trees. They tend to breed and live in colonies with several entrances to a single nesting structure for each pair. It is said that the nests can reach six or seven feet in length. Breeding pairs lay five to 12 eggs which hatch in about 3 to 4 weeks.
They’re known to be particularly noisy birds with a loud and throaty graaa or skveet call. The average lifespan of a Quaker in captivity is about 15-25 years. Quaker Parrots are highly intelligent, social birds. Those kept as pets generally develop large vocabularies. They have been described as one of the top ten “talking” bird species, able to learn numerous words.
Owners of Quaker Parrots have claimed that their birds are able to speak and understand words in context. Teaching a Quaker to Talk is sometimes very easy depending on your bird. They’re fearless birds and it isn’t uncommon to see them playing with the cats or dogs in a home. They’re also notorious escape artists and any owner of a Quaker parrot is best educated on proper housing to ensure they’re safe and secure.
Quaker Parrots are extremely hardy birds and with proper care and nutrition rarely suffer from disease or illness. Common conditions are fatty liver disease and feather plucking. Quaker Parrot owners are wise to socialize their parrot early, make sure they get plenty of sleep, and to spend quality time with their Quaker every day playing, hanging out, and quaker parrot training.