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A happy macaw looks like...

Tanya

Rollerblading along the road
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Tanya
Uhhhh... Hi.
/Shy wave/
I know I'm a cockatoo person but I promise that I stopped by a car wash on the way here and vacuumed all the dust off myself.

I'm actually wondering if you could help me with macaw body language.

I am planning to draw and color a life-size B&G for someone I know. (My beginning sketches are at https://forums.avianavenue.com/index.php?threads/avian-avenue-artists.167550/post-3740893)

I can get lots of reference photos from the Internet but realized that I don't quite know what macaws are saying with their eyes, posture and feather puffs. The main sign of cockatoo contentment is a relaxed upright posture while puffing your face feathers forward to cover your lower beak -- entirely unhelpful in macaw world. I don't want to give him a painting of a visibly uncomfortable macaw so I was wondering if you could help me. I have a headshot of his B&G for the face feather pattern, but I want to know: What does your bird do when they are happy and comfortable and want some attention? How do they hold their head feathers? Neck posture? I've heard that their skin can sometimes flush pink. Is that a real thing and what does it mean? If you have a picture of your macaw looking especially cheerful and playful, I'd love if you shared. Please comment and let me know if you are ok with me possibly using your picture as a model for the final project or if it is for practice reference only.

Thanks so much!
 

Shezbug

ASK ME FOR PICTURES OF MY MACAW!
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I do not have much time right now to sit and go through pics and videos so I will try to remember to come back a bit later today and find you some pics that might be helpful, hopefully other mac owners will add some too for you. Your pics are lovely and whoever you are drawing a pic for is a very lucky person.
 

Holiday

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I'll give it a shot:

What does your bird do when they are happy and comfortable and want some attention?

It isn't just one thing, but they might, for instance, ruffle head feathers and use a toe to rub their own face or head. Eyes may flash.

How do they hold their head feathers?

Feathers may be smooth or ruffled. Ruffled head feathers can mean different things depending on what other cues are present. There are two different kinds of ruffling in macaws. One means love and the other means deep aggression or discomfort. The body posture, eyes, and movements tell you which. In a happy bird, the general demeanor is calm and eyes don't stay pinned. Pinned eyes with ruffled head feathers mean "stay back!" You typically only see this with strangers.

Neck posture?

Yeah, they may tilt their head if seeking affection.

I've heard that their skin can sometimes flush pink. Is that a real thing and what does it mean?

Yes, it's real and can mean the bird is hormonal or overheated. The amount of flushing can also depend on species. RFMs are more prone to it. They also get hot easier than B&Gs, generally.

All this is pretty general, and each bird is an individual with their own idiosyncrasies.
 

Toy

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Happy, comfortable, want attention: My goofy bird hangs upside down.
IMG_8226.JPG

Head feathers: Mostly laying flat. Sometimes will ruffle them if excited or angry.

Eyes: Macaws pin their eyes when excited & often when they talk.

Neck posture: Head tilt sideways is sort of like they are questioning what they are looking at. Macaws can also do a figure 8 head swing. They also do this head dip. No idea why:
IMG_8003.JPG

Macaws don't have the ability to use their feathers for expressions like cockatoos do.
 
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