The monk parakeet is a member of the parrot family that is commonly called a Quaker parrot. Its Quaker nickname is due to the scalloped grey and white feathers on its breast shaped like the bib from an old Quaker costume. A mature monk parakeet is considered a small species of parrot, with adults reaching an average length of 11 to 12 inches (28 to 30 centimeters) and a weight of 3 to 4 ounces (90 to 120 grams). Quaker parrots have mostly green coloration with gray on the throat, cheeks, chest, and forehead. Most birds also have blue on their tails and the tips of their wings.
Native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay, in the 1960s the monk parakeet became popular in other parts of the world, including Europe and the United States, and was sold as a pet. Feral colonies of those birds’ descendants have been established in various countries. Although the monk parakeet is a tropical species, some feral colonies have been established in cold climates, demonstrating the bird’s ability to adapt to changing conditions.
The bird’s popularity as a pet can be attributed to its sociable personality and entertaining antics as well as its colorful plumage. This little bird is friendly and intelligent and considered an excellent companion. They breed easily in captivity, but require lots of room, so an aviary is recommended. The female builds her nest out of grass and twigs, attaching her nest to other nests. Monk parakeets have been known to live for 25 to 30 years, and some may survive longer.
Some people consider monk parakeets noisy, while other like the chattering and chirping of this gregarious bird. Just like people, each monk parakeet has a different personality, so some birds may be a lot noisier than others. All of these birds are active and curious, so when raised as pets, they should be furnished with plenty of toys. They especially like puzzles, and they enjoy toys that they can swing from or attack.
Laws regarding sales of the monk parakeet vary in different parts of the United States. It is considered an exotic pet in some states, and listed as a wild animal in others. The monk parakeet is banned in some states and sold with restrictions in others. Some states have laws requiring that the birds be banded before being sold, while other states have no rules or restrictions regarding their sale.