A Quaker parrot, also known by the common name Monk parakeet, is a small parrot of the species Myiopsitta monachus that is often kept as a pet. These birds were originally native to the southern part of South America, especially the country of Argentina. They have also been naturalized in the United States and parts of Europe, where they were once introduced as pets. The Quaker parrot is an amiable and intelligent companion bird and is relatively easy to train. It is notable for being the only species of parrot that builds a nest in which to lay its eggs.
The Quaker parrot is about the size of a cockatiel or other small parakeet, measuring about 11 to 12 inches (27 to 29 centimeters) from its head to the tip of its tail. Its body is covered in bright green feathers and it has light gray markings on its head, neck, and breast. The birds have round, brown eyes and small hooked bills. Their young are virtually identical to their elders in appearance, but the plumage of young birds is more subdued.
When kept as a pet, a Quaker parrot can live for as long as 20 to 30 years. They are highly social animals, accustomed to living in flocks of other birds, and birds that were raised in captivity and hand-fed are usually very friendly and gentle. The Quaker parrot is also intelligent and capable of speech, with the potential to develop a vocabulary of about 50 or 60 words when well-trained. Some birds will begin to speak to their owners in a rudimentary fashion with no training at all. Aside from its ability to learn to speak, a Quaker parrot may also be trained to do simple tricks and to perch without biting on a person's shoulder or hand.
Caring for a Quaker parrot is relatively simple. The birds require a spacious cage and plenty of toys to stimulate their minds and encourage them to exercise. A diet of seeds alone is usually not recommended because this type of diet is not very well-balanced. Instead, the owner of the parrot should feed a combination of specially formulated bird pellets and fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables. The birds also need plenty of water, and their water supply should be changed on a daily basis.
Quaker parrots are hardy and adaptable birds that can live in a variety of climates, unlike many other parrot species who prefer to avoid colder weather. Birds that escape their cages or are purposefully released into the wild will adapt to live in their new environment quickly. For this reason, the parrots are considered an invasive species in many parts of the world, and may be a potential threat to crops and indigenous wildlife.