What is the lifespan of a quaker parrot?

If you’re thinking of adding a quaker parrot (Myiopsitta monachus, also known as monk parakeet) to your feathered family, you’re probably wondering how long this South American species lives. What is the lifespan of a quaker parrot and, more importantly, what can you do to make sure it lives a long and happy life in your care?

Let’s go into quaker parrot lifespan and important care guidelines.

What is the lifespan of a quaker parrot in the wild?

Quaker parrots naturally occur in Argentina and surrounding countries, although they’ve proven pretty adaptable and feral populations can now be found in many other places. Despite their success in spreading as a species, wild quaker parrots are obviously still exposed to more dangers on a daily basis than their captive counterparts.

Although flocks find some safety in the massive nest-“houses” they build in trees, the scrubland that quaker parrots naturally inhabit is still full of natural predators and other dangers. The same goes for feral populations in cities: they might have less trouble finding food but hawks and other carnivores still lurk everywhere!

Despite the above, quaker parrot lifespan in the wild is still up to 15 years. In lucky cases, that is; many will unfortunately perish before that.

Green quaker parrot (monk parakeet) sitting on man's shoulder. | Full guide on quaker parrot lifespan
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What is the lifespan of a quaker parrot in captivity?

If you’re thinking of getting a quaker parrot as a pet, be prepared for some commitment. As mentioned above, we can be more optimistic about the lifespan of a quaker parrot in captivity than one in the wild.

AnAge lists maximum quaker parrot longevity as 22.1 years in captivity. However, there are reports of quakers living much longer than that, with some having reached 30 years of age or even more!

Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that your quaker parrot will live to 30+ years. We can list average lifespan, maximum lifespan and all sorts of numbers but in the end it all depends on YOU. Bad parrot care is still common and many quakers don’t make it to anywhere close to their potential age.

Before you commit to one of these long lived birds you’ll have to make sure you know as much as possible about their care in order to make sure yours lives a long life.

Close-up of blue quaker parrot (monk parakeet)

Quaker parrot lifespan: What influences it?

Now that we’ve established how long a quaker parrot can live, let’s go into what you can do to make sure yours actually makes it to that age.

There are three important factors that influence your quaker’s potential age: genetics, diet and general care.

Genetics

We’ll have to start off by discussing one factor that you unfortunately won’t be able to influence much: genetics. As with any living creature a quaker parrot can win the genetic lottery for potential lifespan or, alternatively, be doomed to pass on early due to genetic predisposition to disease.

One thing you can do to at least somewhat improve your chances of finding a quaker parrot with good odds is to locate a reputable breeder to buy your bird from. A good breeder will only allow very healthy birds with no defects to produce clutches, thus making sure hereditary issues don’t get passed on.

Still, almost every clutch produces babies of varying strength, so in the end you still just have to get lucky when it comes to genetics.

Diet

One factor we can definitely influence as parrot owners is the bird’s diet. This also happens to be where it goes wrong for so many birds, since myths about what a parrot should eat are still pretty persistent. A seed-only diet is often portrayed as absolutely fine. Unless one does some research, they might never realize that their quaker parrot needs a little more than that.

So what does a proper quaker parrot diet look like? In the wild these birds will go for anything edible they can find, and a lot of it. They move around all day, after all, and need lots of calories to keep their bodies going. In areas populated by humans they are actually considered pests because they love raiding farmers’ crops.

Myiopsitta monachus has been observed to eat a variety of seeds, fruits, blossoms, insects, leaf buds, thistles, grasses and parts of trees. They consume an assortment of sunflower seeds, both black and stiped; safflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and other smaller seeds.

Near populated areas, the birds have also been known to eat sweet potatoes, legumes, drying meat, cereal crops, such as maize and sorghum, as well as citrus crops (Higdon 1998).

Animal Diversity Web

Looking at the above, it should probably be clear that a diet of just bird seed is not going to cut it at all for your quaker parrot. It has evolved to eat many different foods and variety is key to keeping any parrot species healthy!

Additionally, although wild quaker parrots eat lots of seeds, our domestic ones don’t have as much of a need for all those calories. A healthy diet for your quaker parrot could look a bit like this:

  • Fresh vegetables
  • High quality pellet food
  • Fresh fruits (don’t overdo it on this; fruit has a higher sugar content)
  • High quality seed mix (yes, you can feed seed, just not exclusively!)
  • Sprouted grains
  • Grasses and bird-safe garden weeds like clover or dandelion leaves
  • Boiled unsalted pasta or rice
  • Some egg or the occasional cricket/mealworm

Make sure the bird also has access to a mineral block and, of course, multiple sources of fresh water.

Green quaker parrot (monk parakeet)

General care

Although diet is an incredibly important factor in making sure a quaker parrot lives a long life, we definitely shouldn’t forget other care aspects. Slacking on general care can lead to stress for your bird (which can greatly impact its long term health) or even to downright dangerous situations.

A few things to keep in mind are:

  • Cage. Even if your quaker parrot doesn’t spend much time in its cage, you should still make sure that it is high quality and large enough.
  • Out of cage time. Unless you keep your bird(s) in an aviary, you’ll have to provide time out of the cage on a daily basis. Lack of exercise can cause obesity in parrots just like an improper diet can and this comes with many potential health risks.

    Keep in mind that any room your quaker parrot has access to should be “bird-proofed”. A whirling ceiling fan or hot cup of coffee may mean nothing to us but can severely harm a parrot.
  • Enrichment. Provide your quaker parrot with toys, climbing opportunities, foraging boxes and anything else you can think of to keep it entertained. A parrot in a bare cage will become bored and stressed. Do make sure all toys are safe.

    Part of enrichment is also spending time with your parrot. A quaker kept solo will quickly become very lonely and stressed if it can’t play or even just hang out with you.
  • Clean air. Often overlooked by novice bird keepers, this is so essential! Birds have very sensitive lungs that can be severely damaged by cigarette smoke, perfumes and even things we might not think about like the fumes from non-stick pans.
  • Emergency planning. What do you do when your quaker parrot is bleeding? Do you have the tools to remove a wood splinter from its foot? Make sure you know what to do in emergency situations and consider having some basic tools handy.

How old is my quaker parrot?

If you already have a quaker parrot you might be wondering how old it is. Some are lucky and can contact the breeder to find out when a clutch hatched, or find out the date if their parrot is ringed. If you adopted yours or got it from a pet store with no further info, things quickly get more complicated.

Unfortunately it’s pretty much impossible to tell how old a quaker parrot is once it has passed the baby stage. Babies can be recognized from their incomplete plumage and behavior like head bobbing or wing flapping (to practice flying).


If you have any more questions about the lifespan of a quaker parrot or want to share your own experiences with this amazing South American parrot, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below! ?

12 thoughts on “What is the lifespan of a quaker parrot?”

  1. My Quaker Consure (Amigo) is 36 yrs 10 month and 12 days old so far. He eats anything we eat except for foods that are sour. Pizza, spaghetti, sweet potatoes, pineapples baked with brown sugar, cheeses, fruits as long as you break the skin and just about anything we eat.

    Laura

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  2. I have a Quaker parrot for more than 20 years ! It was a baby that fell flying with many of them here in Florida ! My daughter a veterinarian nurse at the time give it to me ! He is healthy and talking a storm sing too !

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    • Thanks for sharing! As you can see in the article, with some luck you’ll be able to enjoy your bird for quite a few more years. 🙂

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  3. I’ve only had my quaker, Julie, for almost nine years now but she’s very healthy and going strong so far, I always did have some doubts on her diet, her cage just has seeds but she joins me at the dinner table every meal, since her wings aren’t clipped and she knows how to undo the food bowl door’s little clip. I often give her a small portion of whatever she seems interested in off my place long as it doesn’t come directly from any animal, (milk, steak, shrimp, eggs) glad to know I generally haven’t been feeding anything she wouldn’t be able to eat. AND its nice to know she can share in an omelette now! Seems as though i’m headed in the right direction for a long and happy life with Julie, thanks for writing this

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    • Glad to hear she’s doing well! And yep, some omelette is perfect as long as it’s not salted (you could give her some before you salt it for yourself).

      The only thing I’d recommend is try to switch her to pellets rather than seeds, as a staggering amount of parrots ends up suffering from nutrient deficiencies in the long run due to seed-only diets. It’s a pain to get them to accept them but it’s really helpful for their health. 🙂

      Good luck and I wish you many happy years together.

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  4. I’ve had my little Quaker ‘Quaker’ most of her life – over 12 years now! She was re-homed with me after her first owner brought her from a breeder; she is light blue and I always wondered if the selective breeding may have shortened her potential lifespan from a standard green quaker, but could not find the original breeder to ask. She is free flighted and the vet gave me props that her chest muscles were so well developed! Our home is Quaker-safe and her cage is always open, so she gets plenty of flying time. I vary her diet with Harrison’s pellets, Zupreem, fresh chop and select seeds, and the occasional snack from my plate (as long as it is bird-safe)! Next step to improve her quality of life is to add high CRI light sources and UVB lighting closer to her cage. She has a ton of natural light coming from the windows next to her cage, but I now know that window panes block UVB light necessary for Vitamin D production.
    I almost lost her a year ago because an egg she was passing got stuck – she made it after multiple visits to the vet and animal hospital that day and through the night, but I am terrified that the same thing may happen this year. I’m determined to do everything to keep her comfortable and healthy for the breeding season this year. Would it be worth it to add a humidifier near her cage? Current humidity inside the home is 43%.

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    • Hey! Thanks a ton for sharing you guys’ story, I love reading these. Congrats on being an awesome bird owner. The light idea is great and I’m thinking about doing the same thing here, or at least frequently wheeling the cage onto the balcony so the birds can suck up plenty of vit D.

      Does your humidity stay around 40% all year or does it drop lower? 43% is pretty alright – up to 60% would also be great, lower than 30% for extended periods of time isn’t ideal (neither for you nor your bird).

      As long as you provide plenty of sleepy time, offer plenty of calcium and keep a very close eye on her, I’m not sure how much else you can do. I know hormonal therapy is used for chronic egg layers sometimes, but hopefully this year you’ll have better luck and she’ll be fine.

      Best of luck!

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  5. My Paulie will be 21 in August and he eats alot what ever we eat…He has alot of favorites tho Corn, Peas, boiled egg, thin crust pizza ,pasta, chicken, cottage cheese, watermelon,grapes,nuts. And much more

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    • Wow, congratulations! Thanks for sharing, that’s amazing. I have to admit that although my birds eat a healthy bird-proof diet, all of mine have human food favorites also. Fights have taken place over Dorito crumbs before, haha! Hope you guys get to spend many more years together. 🙂

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  6. Mine is 21 years old and I hope she lives many more. She’s so moody and funny, she cracks me up! And she LOVES pasta, any pasta! Way more than any other food (just like me ?)

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    • Parrots and pasta is an absolute love match LOL. I hope you get to enjoy many more happy years together. ♥

      Reply

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