by Heike Ewing Ott
Quaker Parrots and Sun Conures are two of the most popular parrot species kept as pets today. If you are considering which would make the best companion for you, you are sure to find the following comparison and stories helpful in making your decision.
In what ways do Quakers seem to differ from (Aratinga) conures? It would be much more helpful to hear from someone who has experienced them both.
I have not bred either, but I have fed out and sold both, and have had both as “rescues” that were with me for a while being socialized and readied for resale or adoption. In my personal experience:
Quakers talk better than suns. Sunny (the 11-year-old named him!!) was exposed to a talking TAG most of his youth and was an accomplished talker for a Sun, but he never spoke as clearly or as appropriately as the Quaker. Misty, on the other hand, was not worked with and knew very few phrases, but what she did know she said very clearly and used intelligently, like saying “Step UP!” whenever you held your hand out to her. Two of my baby quakers started saying “Hi, baby!, Good Stuff!, and Pretty Bird” before they were weaned. None of my Suns talked before about 6 months or so.
Quakers are “feistier” than Suns. Quakers seem to have a built-in “‘tude” (which I adore) that Suns and other conures don’t. Also, when Quakers bite they tend to nip, where conures chomp and hang on, kind of like a bulldog. My Suns got along well with other birds and seemed pretty sociable, but the Quakers were always teasing the other birds, even Peggy Sue the Patagonian who was much larger than they. My baby Suns, like several stories I have read here, would run to you and try to climb up on you; the Quakers were friendly, but waited for you to approach them.
One of my baby Quakers started a “game” at about 11 weeks where he would run away from me and pretend to be scared in front of potential buyers, and then laugh like crazy (with the mini-macaw’s laugh) when I finally caught him. But, he NEVER did that if there was no one else around to witness it!
Quakers are cute, and pretty, but (IMO) adult Sun Conures are gorgeously beautiful. When I had (in my store) 2 Patis, 1 Noble, 1 Citron Cockatoo, 3 baby quakers, 1 baby CAG, 2 dozen cockatiels in 5 or 6 mutations, assorted lovebirds, a B&G, and one Umbrella, people were always attracted to the B&G first, and then to the Suns, which they oohed and aahed over for minutes before they looked any of the other birds.
Conures are fussier eaters than Quakers. My baby Quakers would eat ANYTHING they saw me eat, but the Suns were cautious about new foods.
Quakers learn faster than conures. I’m not saying that a conure can’t learn anything that a Quaker can, but the Quakers start earlier and pick things up quicker.
Quakers are much more “clever” in certain ways, more curious, and more prone to escape or take things apart. 3 baby quakers at one time had a cage with doors that slide up and down. Most birds learned to open the doors, but couldn’t step out of the cage while holding the door up. Those darn Quakers learned to hold the door for each other, and one of the first two out would actually go back and hold the door up for the third!!
They also thought it was great fun to take their toys apart without damaging them, especially if I then re-assembled them. I’m not sure, but I -think- they thought they were training me to put them back together so they could have the fun of taking them apart again. My baby Suns, on the other hand, never learned to get out of any cage, and tended to destroy their toys by chewing them up.
My Suns have been sweet, friendly, good-natured babies that anyone could enjoy, and they do talk. The Quakers, on the other hand, were playful little rascals with many quirks and a tendency for mischief that I think it takes a certain kind of person to really appreciate. I got the biggest kicks and some of my best birdie laughs out of baby Quakers, but not everyone likes having a pet that very much has a mind of its own.
To sum it up and exaggerate the difference a bit, it’s kind of like Shirley Temple and McAulay Culkin. They’re both cute, and funny, but if you were going to adopt one of them, which would you pick? Faced with that decision, probably most folks, no matter how much they laughed at “Home Alone”, would pick sweet little Shirley to live in their home. Then there are those of us who think Shirley is just a little TOO sweet and would take Culkin and love it – and we’re the ones that dearly love those little green chickens all the time we’re shaking our heads and rolling our eyes over their latest antics.