In nature, Quaker parakeets live together in huge colonies. Nevertheless, a domesticated one doesn't require a companion bird to keep him company as long as you spend time with him. But, Quaker parakeets do need stimulation to keep busy; otherwise they can develop behavioral problems.
Bonding With Your Bird
Your naturally social Quaker parakeet can bond just as strongly with you as another bird, provided you interact with him while he's outside his cage. Teach your Quaker parakeet tricks, repeat phrases or tunes for him to mimic, and play games such as peek-a-boo. Quaker parakeets enjoy having "conversations" with you and can learn to talk as well as some larger parrot species.
The Quaker parakeet needs some activities and toys to engage his intelligent mind during the day. Alone, and even sometimes with a companion, a bored Quaker could develop what is known as Quaker mutilation syndrome. A Quaker parakeet with this condition plucks his feathers and mutilates his skin, sometimes fatally. Quaker parakeets enjoy tearing apart materials and weaving them. In the wild, they create complex, apartment-like structures. Give your bird paper, twigs or straw to engage his weaving abilities. Provide him with a small-parrot-size cotton preening toy to keep him company and discourage QMS.
If you aren't around enough to devote regular time to your Quaker parakeet, another bird might provide the companionship he needs. If you want to add an avian companion to your household to keep yours company, choose another Quaker of the same sex as your existing bird -- Quakers breed prolifically. Other bird species may not get along with Quakers. Quakers can be bullies; a dominant bird might intimidate his more passive companion, resulting in two problem parakeets rather than one.
The best match for your bird is one with a similar temperament and age to that of your existing bird; older birds could express dominance over younger ones. If you want two birds of opposite sexes, consider purchasing them together, from the same clutch. If they already get along, you won't have any issues with their relationship. Birds that are siblings won't usually breed -- though it could be a possibility that should be considered when buying them.
If your Quaker parakeet is having issues with QMS, getting another feathered friend for him won't necessarily stop this behavior. In fact, your plucking parakeet could start mutilating his new companion. Before considering getting another bird, bring Polly to an avian vet to check him for signs of an illness as the possible cause of his condition. Getting another bird may further stress him out if he's under the weather, or he could even pass his underlying illness to your new bird. Keep in mind that Quaker parakeets are loud and vocal -- and two will be louder than one.
Contact your local USDA Fish & Wildlife Office to see if Quaker parakeets are allowed in your state. Several states, including California, Colorado, Georgia, Wyoming and Hawaii, classify Quaker parakeets as an agricultural pest, making them illegal to keep as pets.
- Avian Network: Introduction to the Quaker Parakeet
- AvianWeb: Quaker (Monk) Parrot, aka Grey-Breasted Parakeet
- Cub Creek Science Camp: Quaker Parrots
- Bird Trader: Quaker Parrots: Care and Training
- Stanley's QuakerVille: Choosing a Quaker Parakeet for a Pet
- Winged Wisdom Magazine: Breeding the Quaker Parrot
- BirdChannel.com: Quaker Parrot Reader's Stories
- QuakerParrots.com: Quaker Parrot FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
- Winged Wisdom Magazine: Quaker Mutilation Syndrome
- AvianWeb: Breeding the Quaker (Monk) Parrot aka Grey-Breasted Parakeet
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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