"Recapturing Escaped Quakers"
By Mattie Sue Athan
My booklet, "Keeping Quaker Parrots Tame", was published, not
only to support the goal of beloved, well-behaved Quakers, but also to increase awareness
regarding the ethics and recapture of all non-native pet birds (especially Quakers) in the
hope that today's modest numbers of handfed Quakers will not be viewed with the same
prejudice as their copiously-imported, wild- hatched predecessors. Colorado Avian
Veterinarian, Dr. Jerry LaBonde has been often heard to say, "If it's been in
accident, it's probably a cockatoo. If it flew away, it's probably a Quaker."
As one engaged in the recapture of non-native species in Colorado for many years, I
can't disagree. I have recovered many Quaker parrots, both wild-caught and handfed; and
there are some remarkable differences between the two. The wild-caught Quaker is a
bird-identified bird that learned to survive in the wild; the wild-caught Quaker must be
The handfed Quaker is a human-identified bird that learned to survive by begging food
from humans. The "secret" of "recapturing" a handfed domestic Quaker
is that it isn't "recapture" at all, it is a PUBLIC RELATIONS job.
"Recapturing" a handfed domestic Quaker means finding WHICH human the bird went
to when it was time to eat, drink, or go to bed.
Handfed domestic Quakers simply haven't the skills or the will to live outdoors.
Presuming they haven't been terribly abused (and probably even if they have), they will
want to be with people first. This might be mitigated by a breeding age Quaker with a real
mate (not the bell) wanting to find that mate (in which case the bird would go at least
once to any Quaker and any time to the actual mate).
Everybody knows to go after a lost dog or cat, but when a bird flies away, many people
just say, "Oh well."
The Companion Animal Education Foundation
P. O. Box 40544
Denver, CO 80204
(Kathy Kullback 303-333-8405)
is helping me with bookings to give a free recapture slide show for clubs (we expect the
local club to pay travel expenses and provide a room for a behavior problems workshop). We
believe there is a need for better education, especially regarding the ethics of
recapture. A lost, non-native pet bird is in personal danger from the environment AND it
represents a danger to the native species in the environment. Just as a hunter must stay
in the field until a wounded animal is finished, a responsible aviculturist must
"stay with" a lost pet until it is recaptured.
If we don't understand and attend to this matter of responsibility and ethics we could
lose the right to own ANY non-native birds, not just Quakers. The Colorado Departments of
Wildlife and Agriculture just got several more species of finches added to what we cannot
have in Colorado, but thankfully, the Quaker parrot was not among them.