Quaker parrots, also known as Quaker parakeets or monk parakeets, are a small type of parrot native to South America. The only species of parrot to build nests, they are very hardy and have established populations in areas of North America and Europe. Because of their ability to thrive in the United States, and because they are thought to be crop pests (although this is disputed), several states ban or restrict the ownership of these birds. As pets they can be loud and mischievous, but are also smart, affectionate and good vocal mimics. Males and females are visually identical, so a trip to the vet is probably necessary to determine the sex of your bird.
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Things you need
- Quaker parrot
- avian veterinarian
Take your Quaker to a qualified avian veterinarian. Aside from determining the sex, it is always a good idea to have a vet conduct regular checkups and screenings.
Ask the vet to determine the sex of the bird through DNA testing. This is done by taking a small blood sample from the bird's leg, which the vet will send to a lab to be tested. Additionally, the vet can have other tests run on the blood to determine if certain diseases are present, and to make sure that the bird is receiving proper nutrition.
Decide if you want to use the alternative method of plucking several feathers and sending them to a lab for testing. Although this can be done without a vet, this method allows for fewer health screenings than a blood draw and runs the risk of trauma to the bird and infection or irritation at the plucking sites.
DNA Sexing by a Vet
Take your bird to a qualified avian vet for this procedure.
Ask the vet to determine the sex of the bird through surgical sexing. Putting the bird under general anaesthesia, the vet will shave an area of the parrot's abdomen, make an incision and insert an endoscope. Inspecting the parrot's reproductive organs, the vet will determine whether the bird is male or female.
Provide your bird with appropriate post-operative care; make sure the incision site is kept clean. Monitor the site for proper healing.
Tips and warnings
- Some parrots are sexually dimorphic; the males and females are visually distinctive. With the Eclectus parrot, for example, the males of the species are bright green, while the females are a brilliant red with blue wings. Many other kinds of parrots are sexually monomorphic, meaning that the sexes look alike. This is the case with Quaker parrots. Both males and females are mostly green, with yellow on the legs and tail, and grey on the chest and face. Some breeders have bred mutations where the green is replaced with blue.
- Surgical sexing obviously carries much greater risks than a simple DNA test. It was performed much more often before the ready availability of DNA tests.
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