The Monk Parakeet or Quaker Parrot Myiopsitta monachus is a species of parrot, the only member of the monotypic genus Myiopsitta. It originates from the temperate to subtropical areas of Argentina and the surrounding countries in South America. Self-sustaining feral populations occur in many places, mainly in North America and Europe.
The nominate subspecies of this parakeet is 29 cm long on average, with a 48 cm wingspan, and weighs 100 g. Females tend to be 10-20% smaller. It has bright green upperparts. The forehead and breast are pale grey with darker scalloping and the rest of the underparts are very-light green to yellow. The remiges are dark blue, and the tail is long and tapering. The bill is orange. The call is a loud and throaty chape(-yee) or quak quaki quak-wi quarr, and screeches skveet.
Domestic breeds in colors other than the natural plumage have been produced. These include birds with white, blue, and yellow in place of green. As such coloration provides less camouflage, feral birds are usually of wild-type coloration.
The Monk Parakeet is the only parrot that builds a stick nest, in a tree or on a man-made structure, rather than using a hole in a tree. This gregarious species often breeds colonially, building a single large nest with separate entrances for each pair. In the wild, the colonies can become quite large, with pairs occupying separate “apartments” in nests that can reach the size of a small automobile. These nests can attract many other tenants including birds of prey such as the Spot-winged Falconet, ducks such as the Speckled Teal and even mammals. Their 5-12 eggs hatch in about 24 days.
Unusually for a parrot, Monk Parakeet pairs occasionally have helper individuals, often a grown offspring, which assists with feeding the young (see kin selection).
The lifespan of Monk Parakeets has been quoted to be from 15-20 years, to 25-30 years; the former might refer to average lifespans in captivity and/or in the wild, while the latter is in the range of maximum lifespans recorded for parakeets.
Monk Parakeets are highly intelligent, social birds. Those kept as pets routinely develop large vocabularies. They are able to learn scores of words and phrases. This species is considered especially adept at learning.