Why Do Quaker Parrots Quake?

Why Do Quaker Parrots Quake

Quaker parrots are one of many parrot species native to different parts of the world. They are named as such because of their natural tendency to quake or shake. Many bird owners have been alarmed by this behavior, assuming that there is something terribly wrong with the bird.

These birds make great pets because they are intelligent, playful and have exceptional vocal abilities. That said, they can be very mischievous and cost a fair amount when they are kept and fed right.

Why Do Quaker Parrots Quake?

Quaker parrots did not get their name from any kind of religious affiliation, nor does their name have anything to do with oatmeal. They are so called because they quake. These birds shake and bob their heads in a way that appears abnormal to anyone who is not familiar with this species. Quaking is actually completely natural behavior exclusive to this bird.

A quaking bird typically holds on tight to a perch and appears to flap its wings madly, as if it were trying to take off in flight. Many bird owners new to Quaker parrots have rushed their birds to veterinarians assuming that it is sick.

Young parrots are more prone to quaking. Some grow out of it but most adults still shiver or shake their heads when they are sick, hungry or excited. It is also what they do to lure a potential mate.

Quaker parrots are not shivering birds

Quaker parrots are different from shivering birds which shiver and shake after they take a bath. For these birds, shivering is as a result of their breast muscles involuntarily expanding and contracting to generate body heat.

Why Quaker Parrots Are Unique

There are more than 30 types of parrots in different parts of the world. They vary in size, color, intelligence and social ability. Some common species include the Pohnpei Lorikeet, Golden Parakeet, Eastern Rosella, Australian King Parrot, Bronze-winged Parrot, Blue-throated Macaw, Dusky Lory among others.

There are some characteristics which make Quakers stand out from the rest.

Nesting habits

Quakers are the only parrot species which build nests like other birds in the wild. Other parrots simply find holes or spaces in trees and make dwelling places out of them. Quaker parrots not only construct nests but they build amazingly elaborate ones. Their nests are large, dome-shaped clusters of sticks used to create multiple chambers. Zoologists have compared these nests to apartments occupied by a single pair of a male and female adult and their offspring.

A single nest comprises of 3 compartments or ‘rooms.’ One occupied by the adult pair, one occupied by young chicks and another used to protect eggs recently laid by the female adult. Each nest is attached to another and that to another. These form Quaker ‘neighborhoods’ which can become quite large.

Vocal abilities

Although there is never any guarantee that a parrot, regardless of its species, will be a talker, Quaker parrots are known for their talking ability. A parrot of this species which is spoken to often could start to ‘talk’ as early as 3 months old.

They are also very intelligent birds. A well trained Quaker parrot not only learns to repeat words and phrases but also learns to say them in appropriate contexts. One bird owner narrates that he often waved at his parrot and said goodbye as he left the house. After a few weeks of this he was surprised to hear the bird say the word ‘goodbye’ when he waved at it, even if he said nothing to it.

Factors to Consider Before Adopting a Quaker Parrot

These are fun, social birds which are easy to get attached to. It is tempting to run out to a pet store and pick one up just because you want to enjoy the benefits a friend is enjoying from a Quaker parrot. However, there is a lot to think about before making the decision to adopt a Quaker parrot. Here are some details to keep in mind.


A Quaker parrot is by no means a cheap bird to keep. Be prepared to spend some money if you are going to rear it right. It costs anywhere between $50 and $300 to buy a bird. This cost is excluding the cost of the cage, feeding bowls and toys. A good quality cage which the bird cannot bend or break can cost as much as $1,000.

Aside from that, there is the recurrent cost of food. It will cost you about $65 a month to ensure the bird has a healthy, diverse diet as recommended.

Your commitment

If you are considering adopting a Quaker parrot, take a good long think about your commitment level. For starters, this species of parrots has an exceptionally long life span, compared to other pets like dogs and cats. Their average lifespan is about 20 years. Some live as long as 30 years. They do not do well being moved from home to home so do not adopt one if you are not ready to care for it for the next 20 years or so.

Secondly, they are very social birds which love to interact with humans. If they don’t get enough attention, they may become sad, depressed and may even act up. Keep the bird’s cage in an active area of the house so it feels that it is part of activity in the house. Engage with it often in the day and set aside a few hours of the day when it can be out of the cage.

Legal Issues Concerning Quaker Parrots

Did you know it is illegal to keep Quaker parrots in some American states? As of September 2013, it is illegal to own a Quaker parrot in Connecticut, Tennessee, California, Hawaii, Colorado, Wyoming, Rhode Island, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. In New York, Virginia, Ohio, Maine and New Jersey there are restrictions requiring owners to obtain a license and clip the wings of captive birds.

This is why.

Agricultural Threats: These birds multiply very quickly. If left unchecked, colonies have been known to descend upon farms and destroy crops. In South America, they consume apples, pears, corn and peaches and can destroy 2% to 15% of crops.

Threat to native birds: This is again by virtue of the rate at which they multiply. They are naturally aggressive and territorial birds. When in large numbers, they can easily dominate native birds in an area and deprive them of food.

Health concerns: Quaker parrots can carry a disease called psittacosis (also known as parrot fever) which can be transmitted to humans. Although the condition is treatable and is rarely fatal, there are between 100 and 200 cases reported every year.


Now you know why the word ‘quaker’ appears in the name of this species of parrots. They are a unique group of birds which make great pets. They are fun to interact with and they enjoy your company just as much as you do theirs. Bird lovers who enjoy training and teaching new tricks love these birds because they are intelligent, fast learners.

If you are considering keeping a Quaker parrot, consider the cost and the time and energy required to make sure it is happy and healthy. It is illegal to keep a Quaker parrot in some parts of America so don’t forget to check your state by-laws so you don’t find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

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William Sander
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