QPS SENTINEL EDITOR, ELLEN KRUEGER, VISITS THE WILD QUAKERS IN BROOKLYN, NY. One of the QPS SENTINEL Editors, Ellen Krueger, visited the wild Quakers in Brooklyn, NY. Guided by BrooklynParrots.com host, Steve Baldwin, Ellen said that the moment she stepped out of the car, she heard the unmistakable sound of Quaker voices, in trees, on utility poles, fences, and on the ground. Quakers, Quakers, everywhere!
For information on viewing the Brooklyn Quakers, including area and location map, click on BrooklynParrots.com above. Ellen published an extensive article about her tour of the Brooklyn Quakers in THE SENTINEL, as well as an article featuring Texas wild Quakers. THE SENTINEL is QPS' journal. Included with yearly membership dues, THE SENTINEL averages 60 pages per issue, and is sent three times a year in PDF format to each member via email. THE SENTINEL is the only publication devoted exclusively to Quaker Parakeets. Contributors to THE SENTINEL are professional and hobbyist writers, avian behaviorists, Quaker breeders, enthusiasts and owners. Each issue of THE SENTINEL shares with its readers the joy of living with a companion Quaker, the latest information available on Quaker health, care, and behavior, as well as updates on Quakers in the wild and legislation. To learn more about THE SENTINEL, click on it in the top navigation menu. To join QPS and begin receiving THE SENTINEL, click on MEMBERSHIP in the top navigation menu.
All photos on this page are copywritten to Ellen Krueger. No reuse or reproduction of photographic materials on this page is authorized without the express written permission of the contributing owner.
THE EXTINCT CAROLINA PARAKEET
COULD THE NATURALIZED, WILD QUAKER FILL THE GAP?
The bird pictured here is the Conuropsis carolinensis, the Carolina Parakeet, member of the conure family, and the only parrot once indigenous to North America. Rare by the 1800's and extinct in the early 1900's, the Carolina Parakeet once ranged over most of the United States east of the great plains. With the spread of agriculture, this beautiful bird developed a liking for the many kinds of fruit and grain crops. It was considered a pest and subjected to wholesale slaughter.
Cockleburs grow best in disturbed soils such as those in and around agricultural fields. That is why Carolina Parakeets were often seen in fields and farmers tragically jumped to the conclusion that they were there to rob crops. When one member of the flock was shot by disgruntled farmers, the others would fly around over their fallen companion instead of leaving for safety. In this manner, an entire flock was easily destroyed.
In addition to being killed because of crop consumption, the Carolina Parakeet was killed for its colorful feathers, which were used in the millinery trade. Some birds were kept as pets or sold to zoos. Unsuccessful as breeders in captivity, none survive today.
There are several parallels between the Carolina Parakeet and the Quaker Parakeet. Both were successful in adapting to a variety of climates. The Carolina Parakeet was, and the Quaker is, a colorful, small parrot that lived on a diet of seeds, buds, and fruits. The Quaker is kept as a cage bird, as was the Carolina Parakeet. Both were and have been hunted by farmers who thought their crops were being threatened.
Today, the naturalized wild Quaker faces very similar challenges that the Carolina Parakeet was unable to survive. With a wider understanding of and compassion for the Quaker Parakeet, it could easily fill the void left by the extinction of the Carolina Parakeet.
"Less than a century after the only parrot exclusively native to the United States became extinct, another parrot has become established in North America. The monk or Quaker parakeet isn't crowding out songbirds, woodpeckers, scissor-tailed fly catchers nor any other native bird species. Rather, the Quaker prefers urban habitats and acclimates to areas and climates where many native species cannot survive."
Jon-Mark Davey spends considerable time documenting Wild Quakers on film and in photographs. Jon-Mark writes in a post to the members of the Quaker Parakeet Society Discussion List: "I decided to put together a small album of some of the very neatest photos of the ‘Wild Ones’. When you look at these photos, see if you can spot some visual characteristics of YOUR Quakers.... I could see so many faces and
attitudes that my babies have in the faces of many of these wild ones.... watching them through lenses, I could really see so many similarities and so many differences all at the same time."
See Jon-Mark's photos and award-winning website at Quakerville.
Illegal and Restricted States List
Cathy Warren's photo allows us a glimpse at the instinctual talent and ingenuity of the wild Quaker. Wild Quakers construct intricately woven nests to protect them from predators and extreme temperatures. Several families will construct and inhabit a single Quaker nest. Each family that resides in the nest will occupy 3 chambers: a nursery, a communal area, and a sleeping area. The large and elaborate nest construction keeps the hardy Quaker colony warm and protected.
DISPELLING THE MYTHS
Quakers as an agricultural threat-
In the Quaker Parakeet's South American countries of origin, Quakers are considered to be agricultural pests. As a wild, naturalized species in the US, Quakers seem to prefer urban settings, and have not proven to be a threat to agriculture.
Quakers as displacers-
In Connecticut, Quakers have shared nesting area with native species, such as the Great Horned Owl. Wild Quaker flocks have been spotted sharing feeding space, (i.e., at residential bird feeders), with a variety of native species.
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Is the Quaker that you have chosen as your companion to share your home with the same Quaker that lives in a wild setting?
Though our domesticated Quakers may retain remnants of instinctual behavior, years of careful breeding, perfected diet, and purposeful socializing to make a Quaker acceptable as a human companion, leaves Quakers born in captivity ill prepared to face the dangers and hardship of living in the wild.
Prior to owning a Quaker Parakeet, some people are not prepared for the behaviors that a Quaker, especially as it matures, might exhibit. They may not have realistically weighed the time, money, and effort a companion Quaker requires. They might not know or have access to resources that would equip them to better their relationship with their companion Quaker. Some people may begin to feel guilty that their bird's home is a "cage", and that it is not "free-flying", believing it exhibits unwanted behaviors because it hears "the call of the wild."
In fact, it is cruel to release a companion Quaker into the wild. At best, a released bird is unprepared for foraging for its own food. It faces the possibility of death by starvation, attacks by other animals, such as dogs, cats, predatory wild birds, and even by the wild Quakers they might encounter. The life of a wild Quaker, who is part of an established flock or colony, may appear romantic, but it is simply not. A wild Quakers face very real dangers daily, receives no medical attention, and is forced to sustain itself as best it can. Its life expectancy is considerably shorter than that of a companion Quaker.
Wild Quaker colonies in urban settings choose nesting areas that afford warmth, protection from predators, and close proximity to reliable food sources. In urban settings, a Quaker colony might choose to erect their nest on utility equipment, much like Ospreys have done in similar settings.
Because the Osprey is a native species in the US, conservationist agencies and individuals have made considerable effort to provide alternative nesting for Osprey, either directly on utility equipment, or in close proximity.
As a "naturalized species", Quakers are not currently entitled to the same protection as a "native species"; however, individuals, avian organizations, and some power companies are looking into alternative nesting ideas, as well as at solutions that discourage wild Quakers from nesting on power transformers and other undesirable locations. The goal is to find solutions that would allow wild Quaker colonies to exist harmoniously with human beings and other native avian species in urban settings.
QPSERC (Education & Research) is eager to hear your ideas and opinions about the nesting preferences of wild Quakers, along with any ideas you might have about alternative nesting, or ways to successfully deter nesting on power equipment, yet allow wild colonies to exist harmoniously in urban settings.
Please write to: QPSERC
Why Aren't the Laws Simply Changed?
As Quaker owners, breeders, potential owners, and enthusiasts, we wish it was easy to change, or at least modify, the laws regarding Quakers in certain states. The process of proposing and enacting laws, or modifying them, is not a simple or inexpensive process. In a state where Quakers are illegal to own, Quaker enthusiasts would be a minority voice. It is difficult to convince the larger voice that its laws regarding Quakers are antiquated and that the reasoning behind the origin of the laws is unfounded.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Know the laws regarding Quaker ownership in your state. Click on the “Illegal and Restricted States List” on this page to make sure that you know the status of your state and the states around you. Be an advocate to make sure that potential Quaker owners, breeders, pet stores, and any individuals who sell Quakers know the laws in their state and are informing their customers of those laws. Each time a Quaker is detained or seized within the borders of an illegal or restricted state, authorities could view the Quaker owner as irresponsible, which could lessen the chances of the law being changed. Know the laws regarding Quakers in all states, so that you can be fully prepared should you need to travel with your bird or relocate. Knowledge of the laws regarding Quakers allows a Quaker owner to make sensible and responsible decisions.
There are states where it is illegal to own Quakers and some states where restrictions apply to ownership.
In non-domestic settings, Quakers are hardy and resourceful birds. In the 1970's, when feral Quaker populations began to appear in the United States, lawmakers became concerned that these populations would pose an agricultural threat, as well as a threat to native avian species. To date, it cannot be substantiated that wild Quaker colonies are a threat to agriculture, nor has it been proven that they are invasive to native avian species. Instead, Quakers have been recorded sharing their nesting areas with native species, such as owls.
Quakers are the only parrot species that construct nests. The nests, depending on colony size, can be very large, capable of hosting several families, and each family unit’s nest has 3 chambers. In urban settings, Quakers may choose to construct their nests in places that provide warmth, such as on electrical power transformers and lights.
What's Being Done? Favoring an urban setting, visiting local bird feeders "en flock" and constructing their nests on power transformers or lighting poles, does not endear wild Quaker populations to all. In several states, such as Texas, Florida, and New York, individuals, avian groups and organizations, and some power companies, work cooperatively to safely remove wild Quaker nests from places inconvenient to the human populous. Efforts to invent non harmful deterrents to discourage wild Quaker colonies from constructing nests on power lines and lighting fixtures are being explored.
Studies that gather accurate and current information about Quakers in the wild and their behavior in wild colonies are helping to dispel inaccurate information. Two important studies are as follows:
Pruett-Jones, S., C. W. Appelt, A. Sarfaty, B. Van Vossen, M.A. Leibold, and E. S. Minor. 2011. Urban parakeets in Northern Illinois: A 40-year perspective. Urban Ecosystems 14(1).
Burgio, K. Rubega, M. and Sustaita, D. 2014. Nest-building behavior of Monk Parakeets and insights into potential mechanisms for reducing damage to utility poles. PeerJ 2:e601; DOI 10.7717/peerj.601.
An interesting, informative, and visually stunning website, BrookynParrots.com, explores the lives of wild Quaker colonies in an urban setting. In Edgewater, NJ, a flock of wild Quakers have endeared themselves to a group of local residents. Click on the below website: