by Shelly Lane
Most Quaker Parrot owners have an abundance of cute stories to share about their birds, and I am certainly no different. Written originally for QPS’ newsletter, the following is a general article containing stories that show what it’s like to live with Quaker Parrots.
Note: Seven years ago or so, I wrote a series of articles that appeared in the Quaker Parakeet Society’s quarterly newsletter. This is the first of those articles, and I will be publishing the others over the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy them.
As I sit down at the computer to write the very first column for Living with Quakers, I find myself under the weather with the flu – not exactly the auspicious start that I had hoped for! Not surprisingly, it took only a few times of hearing my hacking cough before I had several Quaker Parrots coughing right along with me. Hearing those little Quaker coughs is something that almost always makes me laugh. Isn’t it amazing how quickly they pick up on something like that?
Whenever I am ill, I can’t help worrying a little bit about my birds. Of course, no matter how bad I am feeling I always manage to take care of their physical needs, something that is much more time consuming now that I have eight Quakers than it was when I had just one. No, generally it is the quality time that we spend playing and interacting with each other that suffers for a few days.
And they do know when their “out of cage” times are and are not shy about letting us know when they feel they are being cheated, right? This is especially true for my youngest Quaker, Kaylee. At just 5 months of age, she has the routine down and is very vocal if I do not immediately let her out first thing in the morning or if I have to put her back a few minutes early, and it’s the same for her afternoon play time. Yet the last couple of days, she and the others have seemed to be very forgiving of my inability to spend the normal amount of time with them. There have been very few of those squawks that demand immediate attention. They have even let me sleep in until 9:00 each morning, a feat that rarely occurs at my house. Could it be that they understand that I’m not feeling well or that for whatever reason I am incapable of spending the usual amount of time with them?
One thing I’ve noticed about Quaker Parrots is how they seem to be so very interested in everything going on around them. It doesn’t matter what it is – I might be on the phone, out in the kitchen doing the dishes, having a conversation with my husband or at the computer working; if I look up at any time, I usually see several pairs of little black eyes on me. Perhaps this is why most Quakers are such accomplished talkers; they are great at observing and recording everything we say and do. Just the other day Kaylee started providing feedback for me as I made my morning rounds to the cages, filling food and water cups. As I changed out the cups, she told me, “There you go” and “Good!”
And then there is my first Quaker, Alex. Although she goes to bed at 8 PM each night and is covered, she always manages to wake herself up so that she can talk to me as I am leaving for my third shift job a few hours later. Any other time of the day when she sees me leaving, she tells me, “Bye-bye. I’ll be back.” It is only late at night when she hears me getting ready to leave that she says, “Bye-bye. Time to go to work. You’re a good girl. I love you.” She knows me so well!
Of course, like any other Quaker owner I could go on and on with stories that show what I feel is the Quaker’s unique talent to learn our language. However, more important than their ability to communicate in a way that we can understand is their desire and willingness to become a part of every aspect of our lives. They learn our ways and habits in order to become companions in the truest sense of the word, and that is what living with Quaker Parrots is all about.