"Owning a Quaker Parakeet"
(reprinted with author's permission)
As a fairly new Quaker owner I thought it might help newer owners to relate some experiences I have had in the past five + months.
I first saw "Sparky" in a Petland shop in NC. She(?) was 12 weeks old. I had owned a parrot (Amazon) before, but had never heard of a quaker. When she climbed on my finger she was as good as bought, but first I went to a local library and read about quakers. Then I got some information from the Internet. After visiting her for two days, I bought her and a small cage for the trip back to Washington, D.C.
I quickly learned that since she had never been in a cage, she was frightened - hung upside down. We stopped at a rest stop where I let her out and we talked. The rest of the trip she sat on my shoulder, leaning against my neck and peeking into the vanity mirror. She only squawked about three times. At home I bought her a larger cage and we use the small one for sleeping and travelling. I then had her checked by a vet.
Talking: So far she has never said anything I tried to teach her, but many things I say normally, like - "Can you whistle - whistle - kiss kiss" (with noises) - "come on - wanna take a bath - okay." When I have to go out, I tell her and she always says "okay." She began to talk after two weeks. First I heard her practicing quietly to herself and then one day she said, "Hello Sparky." She will say something over and over and over until I finally tell her to shut up. I mean who wants to hear "can you whistle" fifty five times?
Noise: Two days after getting settled, she started squawking - loudly - particularly when I left the room. She had stopped this having gotten used to my routine. The only exception is when I go in the kitchen and open the refrigerator. She expects I will bring her something and she will yell until I come out. If I don't open the refrigerator, she is quiet. She had periods during the day for whistling, clucking and imitating various birds. This is followed by a talking period. We live in an apartment but the neighbors cannot hear her except when they walk by our door.
Eating: She started out on seeds. Thanks to advice from various people in this group, I now have her pretty much converted to pellets (softened overnight with baby apple/grape juice.) She also eats some vegetable and peppers. the only food she seems to really enjoys though is a crust of wheat bread. She eats to live and does not seem to live to eat. I just received a scale and she weighs in at 102 gms.
Toys: I bought her the usual toys and find that after a few weeks she gets bored so I change them. Since I am retired and with her most of the day, her cage is left open except when I go out.
Clumsiness: This breed is apparently quite clumsy when young. Sparky has fallen off the top of her cage more times than I can count. She autogyrates to the floor but lands on her tail feathers then they point in all directions. She is better, but you have to be sure nothing startles her. I find it is better to carry her in my hand than on my shoulder if I expect she will see something new. Recently I had her winds clipped and took her outside. The wind blew her off of my shoulder to the ground, of course she broke a tail feather. This is not recommended, but I just couldn't stand not taking her out. All she wanted to do was stay near me.
Visitors: Those who are timid or afraid of birds will not impress her. Those who are assertive will.
Nibbling: She has bitten me only once when I touched something on top of her cage. She does nibble my skin and once brought blood when she removed a small growth from my face. Saves on dermatology bills but not very sanitary.
Travelling: We have now gone over 4,000 miles with her in her travelling cage strapped in the front seat, but not too close to the air bag. She loves it. We stop and picnic and listen to the various birds at rest stops. She yells at the big trucks when they pass, but otherwise acts as if she was home.
Affection: She is without question the most affectionate pet I have ever had including other parrots, a monkey, dogs, cats, and a horse. She has been terrific company for me since my wife died last October. I recommend a quaker highly.
Forgive the length but I hope to convince anyone considering a Quaker that they can't go wrong. Incidentally, for a couple I suggest it is important that one or the other has no serious objections to having a bird.