Breeding

Quaker Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)

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Quaker Parrakeetby Jim Hayward

ORIGINAL HOMELAND:
Widely distributed in four sub-species through parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. Escapees have established the species in USA.

NATURAL HABITAT:
Dry scrub, sparsely wooded savannah, palm groves, orchards, plantations, and is drawn towards areas of human occupation from which the species has benefited.

STATUS IN THE WILD:
Extremely common, large flocks.

STATUS IN AVICULTURE:
Well established.

LEVEL OF KEEPER'S EXPERIENCE:
Beginner with some experience of keeping medium sized parrakeets.

HARDINESS:
Very hardy.

TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION:
Have been bred in flights of only 6ft in length, but a length of 15ft is more suitable; any wooden framework should be covered with thin metal and not less than 16g welded mesh for the aviary covering - they are actively destructive birds. As long as the aviary is protected from cutting winds with part of the roof covered in, an open fronted shelter will suffice.

TYPE OF DIET:
The basic diet consists of: the usual parrakeet seed mixture (sunflower, safflower, canary mixture, various millets including spray, and 50/50 budgie mix), and a small amount of fruit and vegetables such as apple, carrot, pear, orange, sweetcorn, peas, grapes and celery - as well as wild picked greenfood such as chickweed, seeding grass, dandelion (flowers, roots and leaves), shepherds-purse, sow-thistle and so on. Bread and milk is usually appreciated, or canary rearing food, especially when young are in the nest; germinated and soaked seed helps encourage breeding condition and encourages the feeding of young, but great care must be taken to see that it is only given fresh and contains no harmful moulds or infections.

SEXING:
Sexes alike in plumage; surgical sexing is generally employed.

SEXUAL MATURITY:
Two to three years.

NESTING SEASON IN BRITAIN:
From early summer to early autumn.

TYPE OF NEST:
They will take to a nest-box - to which is often added a 'thatched' roof or porch, but it is more usual to fix up a wire mesh platform and provide them with a continuous supply of twigs (usually willow or birch), so that they have the opportunity to fulfil their instinct to construct their own bulky nest. One breeder recommends destroying the nest at the end of the season to encourage nest building and stimulate breeding in the spring and summer.

USUAL NUMBER OF EGGS:
Four to six.

INCUBATION PERIOD:
22 to 24 days.

USUAL NUMBER OF YOUNG:
Three to five.

FLEDGING AGE:
Between six and seven weeks.

USUAL NUMBER OF CLUTCHES:
Usually one, sometimes two.

NESTING HABITS:
This species is unusual in being expert at constructing its own nest from rough (usually thorny) twigs; a roughly globe shaped nest is woven and built into the outer branches of trees, with other pairs using the original nest as a base to construct additional chambers until a mass of woven twigs provides a communal nesting site for several breeding pairs - as many as twenty chambers in one nest has been recorded.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS:
Though considered a colony nester, some breeders find that more young are produced when pairs are housed separately.

NOISE FACTOR:
Extremely and frequently noisy, sufficient to cause complaint from close neighbours.

AVAILABILITY:
Often available.

COLOUR VARIETIES:
Blue, and - much rarer - Marine (turquoise, green/blue) and Dilute (predominantly lime yellow and white); one breeder in the south of England has produced a Red-eyed Pied Marine on at least two occasions.

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