Myiopsitta monachusmonk parakeet

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Geographic Range

Monk parakeets, more commonly known as Quaker parrots, can be found near large water sources, and in the lowland areas of Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil. They inhabit open savannas, scrub forests, and palm groves, especially where rainfall is low. They are also distributed in South American city parks, on farms, and in yards (Higdon 1998). In North America, escaped birds have established breeding colonies in Chicago and Miami and in the states of Alabama Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia (South 1998).

Habitat

Myiopsitta monachus prefers open savannas, scrub forests, and palm groves (Higdon 1998). But because it is a highly adaptable species, the parrots readily take residence in eucalyptus trees. Quakers make their own nests by weaving sticks, twigs, small branches, and other materials into complex structures (Doane 1994).

Physical Description

A Quaker Parrot is a medium-sized bird, about 11 to 13 inches long from head to the tip of the long, tapered tail. The basic colors of the bird are green and gray. Adults of the nominate race, Myiopsitta monachus, have a blue-gray forehead. The lores, cheeks, and throat are pale gray. Feathers on the throat and abdomen are edged in a lighter gray, giving them a scalloped, barred look. Feathers below the abdomen are olive green, becoming yellowish green on the lower abdomen, legs and under the tail. The beak is a light pinkish-brown color, and the legs are gray. The eyes are brown. Males and females are not sexually dimorphic (Greeson 1995).

  • Average mass
    81.7 g
    2.88 oz
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  • Average basal metabolic rate
    0.5189 W
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Reproduction

Reproduction of the Quaker parrot begins in late August and continues until Novemeber. Groups of wild Quakers live together, each pair with its own residence comprising of [at] least two chambers. Each compartment serves a different purpose, including one for egg incubation or a place to feed young chicks, another in which to feed older chicks, and a third from which parents can keep a watch for danger (Higdon 1998). Each clutch of eggs ranges from four to seven eggs. Incubation lasts approximately twenty days.

  • Average eggs per season
    7
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  • Average time to hatching
    31 days
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Lifespan/Longevity

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    22.1 years
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Behavior

Quaker parrots are a socialable species. Although they live in flocks, their nesting habits are unique among parrots; they build their own nests, while other parrots use existing sites as the basis for their nests (Higdon 1998). Groups of wild Quakers live together, each pair with its own residence comprising at least two chambers. As the flock grows, each pair builds its apartment onto the main nest. Quakers do not shy away from humans and can be found in and near both small and large towns, as well as farms and orchards. If there is a reliable food source nearby, Quakers rarely wander far from the nest site. However, in South America, unless they live near urban or suburban areas where they can find food year-round, Quakers migrate in the winter to find better food sources (Wiener 1994).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Myiopsitta monachus has been observed to eat a variety of seeds, fruits, blossoms, insects, leaf buds, thistles, grasses and parts of trees. They consume an assortment of sunflower seeds, both black and stiped; safflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and other smaller seeds. Near populated areas, the birds have also been known to eat sweet potatoes, legumes, drying meat, cereal crops, such as maize and sorghum, as well as citrus crops (Higdon 1998).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There is a market for Quakers as pets. In captivity, mutations are prized. Unusual color mutations in pet quakers are highly valued and breeders strive to achieve them. In this way, breeders have been developed some parrot colors such as blue, yellow, cinnamon, pied, and albino. Such mutations are prized by many collectors, making them much more expensive than normal Quakers (Jordan 1997) .

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

According to a representative from the California Department of Agriculture, Quakers are considered a pest bird species. Quakers are illegal in California, under any circumstances, despite the lack of any documented evidence of crop destruction in the state by wild colonies of Quakers. Embassies, consulates and UN representatives of countries such as Argentina claim that the birds are pest species in their habitat, destroying as much as two-thirds of the grain crops planted each year (Higdon 1998).

They do not appear to cause significant problems in Chicago (South 1998).

Conservation Status

The Quaker parrot is not currently under threat of endangerment. They are well adapted in most environments including locations of cold weather and snow.

Contributors

Lin Wang (author), West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, Joan Rasmussen (editor), West Windsor-Plainsboro High School.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Athan, M. 1997. Guide to the Quaker Parrot. New York: Barron's.

Doane, B. 1994. My Parrot, My Friend. New York: Howell Book House.

Greeson, L. 1995. The Charing Little Quaker. New York: Greeson’s Little Baby Parrots Inc..

Higdon, P. 1998. The Quaker Parrot: An Owner’s Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet. New York: Howell Book House.

Jordan, T. 1997. "Those Cuddly, Colorful Quakers! A look at Quaker mutations" (On-line). Accessed 9 March 2001 at http://www.quakerville.com/qic/ezine/97Issue4/mutations-info.html.

South, J. 1998. "Hyde Park Parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus)" (On-line). Accessed 9 March 2001 at http://www.monkparakeet.com/jmsouth/intro.html.

Weiner, J. 1994. The Beak of the Finch. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.