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Quaker Parakeet Society

Read this interview with the Quaker Parakeet Society.

 
1) What is the Quaker Parrot Society?
The Quaker Parakeet Society (QPS),  founded in 1999, is a registered 501 (c ) 3 non-profit organization formed by quaker parakeet owners, breeders, conservationists and other interested individuals who are committed to promoting national interest and understanding of quaker parakeets—as companion parrots and in the wild—through education of the general public, legislative bodies, prospective owners and potential breeders.  The Society's mission is to provide interested individuals with an organization that channels its interests and efforts toward improving the lot of quaker parakeets as pets and in the wild.

The quaker parakeet, also known as the monk parrot, (Myiopsitta monachus) is the nominate species of the genus Myiopsitta. There are three sub-species, all of which originate from the temperate to cooler areas of South America. However, self-sustaining wild quaker populations occur in many places, mostly North America and several countries in Europe.  Quakers are the only parrots that build stick nests, on free-standing edifices such as trees and poles; preferring these large wooden condos to the cavity nests used by most other parrot species.
Quaker parrots are strictly controlled and even outlawed in some states in the United States because of misconceptions.  Because quaker parakeets come from temperate locations, they have thrived in many wild locations in the United States.  Along with people in the usually warmer states like Texas and Florida, neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Hartford, Chicago, and other northern cities have become accustomed to flocks of wild quaker parakeets prospering in the winter snow.

Because of their hardiness in colder temperatures, wild quakers have settled in cities where most people do not anticipate encountering wild parrots. Quakers have been unfairly branded as agricultural pests and as dangers to native bird species.  Time, experience, and academic research have proven these negative labels to be unfounded.  QPS works to correct this misinformation with facts based on experience and research.  By working in conjunction with those who have had the most experience with quaker parakeets, the organization has made progress in polishing the image of this intelligent and appealing bird.

2) How did QPS start?
A group of quaker parakeet owners and enthusiasts had gathered on a website owned by Shelly Lane and, over the course of time, they decided that they needed to form a formal organization that would allow them to accurately represent the interests of quaker parakeets and to provide a forum for shared quaker parakeet interests and concerns.  The Quaker Parakeet Society was founded on March 17th (Saint Patrick’s Day), 1999.  QPS became a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization in April 2001.

The major communication focus of the QPS has always been through e-mail, websites and electronic communication.  This communication about feisty, intelligent, exuberant pet birds has led to friendships that have lasted for years – at times without the friends ever having met, face to face.

3) Can anyone become a member?
Anyone with an interest in quaker parakeets, whether they are a pet owner, a breeder or someone simply fascinated by the species is welcome to join the Quaker Parakeet Society (QPS).   The society normally operates through the internet, making copious use of e-mails, websites, Facebook, and other electronic communication processes to keep members informed and involved.

The society has approximately 150 active members, mostly in the United States, although there are also QPS members in Australia, England, Scotland, France and Spain.  The main focus of QPS is to provide factual, detailed information on quakers parakeets to all interested parties, to promote interest and encourage understanding of quakers parakeets,  to encourage legalization of quaker parakeets in states where they are currently banned and to prevent further restrictions of ownership, to take an annual census of captive quaker parakeet populations, to promote protection and preservation of quaker parakeet natural habitats, to identify and influence state regulation of wild and captive quaker populations, and to support and encourage veterinary and avicultural research for quaker parakeets and related avian species.

4) What challenges is QPS facing in the changing bird community?
Quaker parakeets are not considered endangered or threatened.  In fact, the hardiness and resilience of the species is their biggest problem.  For years, quaker parakeets have been considered agricultural pests in their native South American ranges, and this negative label has been passed on into other countries.  Wild quakers occasionally like to build their large stick nests on power and utility poles.  This inclination to build on power poles has caused a few fires and power outages.

Wild quaker parakeet communities have been established in a number of locations in the United States.  These include large, diverse communities in Florida and Texas and smaller but still robust communities in northern US cities like Chicago, Brooklyn, and Hartford.  Because of their ability to prosper in climates that would not support other parrot species and the agricultural pest reputation that came along with them from South America, quaker parakeets are outlawed or restricted in a number of American states.

5) How does QPS promote parrot conservation?
QPS has been working to increase the scientifically correct information and knowledge of these special birds and to educate state and local governments and wildlife organizations on the true effects of wild quaker parakeet populations on local habitats and species.  Over the past few years, QPS has provided educational and subject matter expert input to local state wildlife organizations and has worked with utility companies on the effective and humane approach to managing wild quaker populations.

The Quaker Parakeet Society has also worked with utility companies that have been having problems with wild quaker populations nesting on power poles and occasionally causing fires and power outages.  Although in the past there have been occasions when utility companies have unwittingly torn down nests during breeding seasons and in mid-winter, the QPS has experienced much success in altering nest teardown processes through education and “gentle persuasion.”  This has resulted in a great decrease in egg, chick and fledgling fatalities, while, at the same time, allowing electrical service to be maintained unhindered.

6) How does QPS work with other organizations?
A lot of the Quaker Parakeet Society’s most recent interface with “other” organizations has been with utility companies, state Audubon Societies, and state and local governments— providing educational information on wild quaker parakeet populations.  QPS has constructed alternative nesting platforms for quaker nests that were forced off utility poles, and the society is currently working with utility companies to see if collaboration by the interested parties could result in additional nesting platforms being constructed. 

These collaborations call for sophistication and finesse to bring differing minds and attitudes to agreement.  So far, the QPS has been reasonably successful in bringing different mindsets together for mutual progress.

QPS  has also worked with some state Audubon Societies to foster inclusion of wild quaker parakeets in state bird lists.  When wild quakers are identified as members of a state bird list, it constitutes an acknowledgement by the Audubon Society that the quaker parakeets are part of the ecosystem and is an inferred recognition that the birds are there to stay.

Finally, the QPS has provided educational input to state and local governments regarding the legal status of pet and wild quaker parakeets in their specific jurisdictions.

7) How does QPS work with pet bird owners?
The QPS provides a free e-mail chat list forum where members and other quaker parakeet enthusiasts can share personal stories about their pet quakers, ask questions, and share interests, opinions and anecdotes about their birds.  QPS also sponsors a Facebook page on quaker parakeets.  The QPS website provides information on quaker parakeets in general, on the Quaker Parakeet Society, on care and feeding of these delightful birds, on state and local laws and regulations regarding Quakers and their upkeep, and general information on bird keeping and aviculture.   In addition, all of these formats contain information how an individual can join the Quaker Parakeet Society. 

8) What resources does QPS provide?
Anyone – whether they are a member of QPS or not – can use the web-based resources sponsored by QPS.  QPS believes that information relating specifically to quaker parakeets and to aviculture in general should be available for all interested parties.  The Quaker Talk List, the QPS Facebook Page and the QPS Website all contain a wealth of information about quaker parakeets; how to keep them healthy and happy, how to feed them and train them and how to get the most out of a rewarding relationship with an intelligent, personable little bird.

Membership in the Quaker Parakeet Society costs $15 for U.S. citizens, $17for our Canadian cousins and $27 for other international members.  New members of the Quaker Parakeet Society receive a welcome kit, which includes the latest issue of The Sentinel – the Journal of the Quaker Parakeet Society, a set of quaker-themed address labels and a quaker-sized bird toy.

One of the benefits that a QPS member receives is the quarterly QPS Sentinel - The Journal of QPS.  This publication contains nearly 60 pages of quaker-specific articles, stories, columns, puzzles, poetry and information from the people who know quaker parakeets best.  This is a unique source for news and information on everything that is happening in the world of quaker parakeets.

QPS also sponsors the Quaker RAPP - The Rescue and Placement Program created specifically for quaker parakeets.  This unique program finds qualified homes for quaker parakeets that need new placement for any number of reasons.  RAPP Support is a person-to-person connection that helps adoptive owners and owners with problems connected to behavioral issues in quaker parakeets.

QPS sponsors and maintains a listing of states, state laws and regulations regarding quaker parakeets to help owners and prospective owners determine the legality of their pets.

QPS sponsors The Vet Panel - a growing list of Avian Veterinarians who are committed to support QPS by answering questions put forth by QPS members.  These are real answers from real bird doctors.   The society also sponsors QPS Quaker Quarters - the online source for magnets, labels, bird recipe cook book, shirts, mugs, mouse pads, caps and other necessities of life, all featuring beautiful pictures of quaker parakeets.  Proceeds support QPS projects.  This can be found here.


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