Monk parakeets (also known as Quaker parrots) are birds that have a lot of fun and energetic personalities. They are popular all over the world and they are quirky, smart, and entertaining. These colorful parakeets are distinguished in some parts of the world due to their effects on native wildlife and agriculture. In a clear balance between fame and infamy, Monk parakeets are certainly fascinating birds.
1. Monk Parakeets Are The Only Parrots That Build Stick Nets
Parrots generally nest in holes in trees, man-made structures, rocks, and abandoned dens of other animals. The Monk parakeet, however, is the only exception. Monk parakeets are the only parrots that can build nests with twigs and sticks, and these nests can become quite large as they can accommodate numerous individuals.
Monk parakeets sleep and lay eggs in their complex and elaborate nests. They lay 4 to 12 eggs and, although they tend to feed near their nests and rarely venture far from nests, flocks in South America may migrate in the winter in search of areas with enough food.
However, if flocks live near urban or suburban areas, they can forage year-round and no longer need to migrate in winter.
It is common for Monk parakeets to build nests near human settlements, and their large nests sometimes attract other animals to live there, including ducks, small mammals, and birds of prey.
2. Their Elaborate Nests Have Rooms Or Chambers
This is without a doubt one of the most fascinating facts about Monk parakeets that you cannot miss out on. The distinctive intelligence and sociability of Monk parakeets can be seen in the unique architecture of their nests.
Each pair of Monk parakeets builds at least two chambers or rooms in their nest, and they expand the nest by building more chambers as the flock increases in number, which is similar to human apartments.
Each room has a different function, and Monk parakeets generally incubate their eggs in one chamber, while the other may be reserved for older chicks or for parents to keep an eye out for potential threats.
3. Monk Parakeets Come In Various Colors Due To Rare Genetic Mutations
The wild forms of the nominal subspecies of Monk parakeets are often and naturally green and gray in coloration. They have pale gray cheeks, lores, and throats, as well as blue-gray foreheads.
On the abdomen and throat, the feathers have edges that are lighter in color, making the feathers appear crenate or barred. Their upper parts, on the contrary, have bright green color feathers. They have brown eyes, gray legs, and pinkish-brown beaks.
Male and female Monk parakeets do not differ much in appearance, apart from the fact that females are generally 10-20% smaller than males.
However, as a result of rare genetic mutations, some domestic Monk parakeets display atypical feather colorations, which are highly sought after by breeders. Monk parakeet breeders have been allowed to produce parrots that have blue, white, tan, and yellow feathers. Since these mutations are rare, breeders sell these parrots at an expensive price compared to normal ones.
In the wild, their typical green coloration provides efficient camouflage in forests and grasslands. This coloration helps Monk parakeets survive and reproduce more in the wild and is, therefore, the most common coloration in the species.
4. Monk Parakeets Are Intelligent Birds That Can Mimic Human Speech
Like crows, parrots are well known for possessing an intelligence that far surpasses other birds. The Monk Parakeet or Quaker parrot is no exception and this parrot demonstrates excellent memory and can even plan future events, which needs a higher level of intelligence.
As birds with a high level of intelligence, they tend to get bored and require mental stimulation and entertainment through toys and social interaction. If Monk parakeets get bored, they can have destructive tendencies, which may not be perfect, especially if you keep them as pets.
These smart birds can even enjoy music and can also memorize various sounds and voices with ease. As with many other parrots, Monk parakeets are exceptional mimics. They can learn a wide variety of phrases and words and, like larger parrots, they can speak quite clearly and even give words meaning.
They have the ability to speak in context or say things in context. For example, they can say good night before bed and greet guests. Not all Monk parakeets can speak, however, if they can, they do so with excellence.
As with other parrots, Monk parakeets have a large and complex forebrain, which is related to their high-level thinking and reasoning abilities. Monk parakeets can solve puzzles and learn tricks with absolute ease. This is undoubtedly one of the facts about Monk parakeets that make them well-loved as pets.
5. Monk parakeets Are Popular Around The World As Pets
One of the most famous facts about Monk parakeets is that they are popular in the pet trade. As a result of their bright colors and equally bright minds, many people value Monk parakeets as house pets.
As social birds, they can be somewhat docile and trusting of their caretakers. These talking birds may be as famous as cockatiels, and they are somewhat and fairly hardy pets.
Another captivating factor in their familiarity and popularity as pets is their smaller size and consequently their lower requirements for habitat and food space.
Monk parakeets are generally cheaper and generally require a smaller space compared to larger parrots with similar intelligence and ability to speak, such as the African gray parrot or the blue and gold macaw.
However, in general, it is still advisable to house these birds in large or large enclosures to give them room to fly and roam, keeping their inquisitive minds entertained.
6. Monk Parakeets Are Omnivorous Birds And Enjoy A Variety Of Foods
Monk parakeets are omnivores and can eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, flowers, leaves, insects, herbs, and seeds. In captivity, they enjoy eating a combination of seeds and pellets specially designed to mimic their diet in the wild. They can also eat cereals, nuts, dried meat, and sweet potatoes.
7. Monk Parakeets Are Social Birds
Monk parakeets are social birds and have a tendency to live in large flocks in the wild. They are friendly birds and prefer to live together in the same nest (a single nest can house several pairs of Monk parakeets at the same time).
The Monk parakeet usually lives in large flocks in the wild. They communicate through visual, chemical, auditory, and tactile signals. They do not shy away from humans and when kept in captivity, they also appreciate the company of humans.
One of the most fascinating facts about Monk parakeets is that they also help other Monk parakeets raise the young, and usually help parents feed their younger siblings as well.
8. Monk Parakeets Thrive Quite Well In The Wild
The natural habitats of Monk parakeets are scrub forests, palm groves, open savannas, and specific places with little rainfall.
Monk parakeets that are native to Argentina and its neighboring nations in South America often live near large sources of water such as seas and rivers, sometimes establishing nests near human settlements.
However, these parrots are extremely adaptable to new environments and can thrive in a wide range of habitats.
Monk parakeets are of the least concern and are currently far from facing the threat of extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In large part due to human introduction to a new habitat, Monk parakeets have huge populations and are prevalent throughout the world. Escaped or freed Monk parakeets easily acquire new habitats and establish wild colonies that can survive on their own.
Since they are parrots native to temperate zones, they can thrive in colder climates. In the United States, they have established several colonies in northern states such as Massachusetts, the coast of Rhode Island, and New York.
Even with harsh winters, they also have a healthy population in Chicago, Illinois, where people often greet their population.
9. The Monk Parakeet Is An Invasive Species In Some Areas
Due to their ability to thrive in a wide range of habitats; they can be as prevalent as pigeons in some areas of the world. The city of Madrid in Spain had a Monk parakeet population of around 10,800 individuals in 2015, which is the highest Monk parakeet population in Europe.
The United States also has populations of Monk parakeets, with about 150,000 to 500,000 parrots in Florida alone.
While these birds can be enjoyable and entertaining to look at, and even welcomed in some areas, one of the most essential Monk parakeet facts to know is that they can be invasive species. These intelligent birds can be a real nuisance in places where their populations remain uncontrolled.
With large enough populations, they can consume a remarkable amount of resources and compete with local wildlife such as sparrows and pigeons. They can also become agricultural pests, eating and killing the beneficial and valuable cereal crops of local farmers.
10. Many Places Prohibit Keeping Them As Pets
It’s no wonder that since Monk parakeets are reputed to be invasive species in many parts of the world, some nations and states have begun to ban people from keeping them as pets.
Spain, for example, where Monk parakeets are almost as prevalent as pigeons, has made the keeping, sale, and breeding of birds illegal since 2013.
In addition, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made a 2011 population control plan. Western Australia also bans the possession and sale of these potentially invasive Monk parakeets.
The United States imported thousands of Monk parakeets between the 1960s and 1980s because of the pet industry. Because of escaped pets or owners released them into the wild, they immediately established colonies in seven states around the 1970s, and their populations spread to other states as a result.
In the United States, keeping Monk parakeets as a pet is illegal in some states such as Rhode Island, Kentucky, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, California, Colorado, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania, and in some states, it is legal to have one as a pet, but they have some restrictions that must be met. For example, in Ohio, captive Monk parakeets must have their feathers trimmed to prevent them from flying away.