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Explaining the needs of a Macaw

Zara

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I agree with Becky, Steve and Tka. We´ve seen members here who got their birds as teens and had them for decades and seem to be great carers.The reality is there´s more unsuccessful stories than successful ones.
Difficult to really know what is best for this person as we know nothing about them or their life and circumstances.
Normally, I´d suggest getting those parents and even the teen to join this forum and have a read of some of the threads here to see what living with birds is like, ask questions and get involved in the bird world, see what they think of it.
 

JessAndSky

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I got my first bird on my 14th birthday and got my Severe a year later. My neighbor in Virginia bred birds (had 24) and I would care for them when they went out of town. I studied them obsessively to know best diet (she's always been on Roudybush and chop, since 1999), behavioral, training, hormone issues etc. There are responsible teens out there that truly care for animals. My family has never been big on pets (I am the staunch animal rights one) so I was her sole caregiver. I did a phenomenal job and she continues to thrive.
I also used my bird sitting money to get her an upstairs King cage, a downstairs sleeping cage, a T-stand, shower perch and playgym with lots of toys.
 

Miss Annamarie

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I was a very responsible 13 year old and there was no way I could've handled any large bird at that age no less than a macaw, but that was just me, not her. Especially if as you said the parents aren't going to spend anytimr with it, just help financially. I do agree about the life events, what happens when she goes to college? Has to get an apartment? No apartment is going to let a giant feathered toddler with a chainsaw on their face in. What if it ends up loving her parents much more than her from just seeing them once or twice when they go in her room? I'm sure the parents wouldn't be as flexible with keeping the bird as my father is since River adores him so much.

On the other hand, I started getting birds at 15 and I like to think I've been a great caregiver. But my situation is a lot different than other young peoples', i dropped out of school, i dont plan on going to college, I'm buying a house, and I plan on staying in my current job. Every situation is different and we wont know how its going to turn out until it turns out. Have the parents and her join this forum.
 

A.K

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I was a very responsible 13 year old and there was no way I could've handled any large bird at that age no less than a macaw, but that was just me, not her. Especially if as you said the parents aren't going to spend anytimr with it, just help financially. I do agree about the life events, what happens when she goes to college? Has to get an apartment? No apartment is going to let a giant feathered toddler with a chainsaw on their face in. What if it ends up loving her parents much more than her from just seeing them once or twice when they go in her room? I'm sure the parents wouldn't be as flexible with keeping the bird as my father is since River adores him so much.

On the other hand, I started getting birds at 15 and I like to think I've been a great caregiver. But my situation is a lot different than other young peoples', i dropped out of school, i dont plan on going to college, I'm buying a house, and I plan on staying in my current job. Every situation is different and we wont know how its going to turn out until it turns out. Have the parents and her join this forum.
If not a Macaw, then would you recommend something smaller? A cockatiel prehaps?
 

Sparkles99

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I've never had one, but will be interested to see what people say. I believe that cockatiels, peachfaced lovebirds & budgies are perpetually popular for a reason. The first two can live a really long time, but many parents/guardians would have no problem taking care of a cockatiel or a lovebird who might balk at a macaw.
 

FeatheredM

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Little birds provide so much interaction, and the parents would probably be willing to interact with the little bird. She would probably enjoy a cockatiel very much. I love my budgies, but I just don't think that budgies are for everyone who want a bird. Cockatiels provide alot of interaction, with budgies not so much(but it highly depends on the birds personality, some budgies are very calm and love hanging out with their owner) but they are so fun to watch, as they are very curious about everything and are super crazy. But I'm guessing she would want a bird who would like to interact with her more.
 

Momof3litt

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I am a parent, and my oldest child is about to turn 13. I am also a firm believer in the idea that any pet that is bought "for the child" must be a pet that the parent wants. At some point, the parent is going to end up caring for it, whether that is because a child is on a school trip, summer camp, job, college, etc. Care implies interaction, point blank. Any animal that lives in a home needs to be able to interact with the people in the home. Imagine a dog were bought "for the child" and then the rest of the family refused to socialize with it and it needed to spend its entire day locked in a bedroom. Humane societies would consider that situation to border on cruelty. It is similar with all of the "easter bunnies" and birds that are gifted at Easter and then rehomed a few months later. The parents who bought those pets did not intend to look after them and had unrealistic expectations of the responsibility level of a child. This is deeply unfortunate for all of those rabbits and hamsters and budgies. How much more so for a macaw, which is a significantly more complex animal.

If the parents are only willing to feed and clean cages for an animal, they should be considering a reptile or maybe tiny birds like finches that require less interaction. The parents need to meet a severe macaw up close and see how they feel about it. If the bird scares them, it is not the right pet for their home. As much as I agree that it would be an excellent idea for the child to volunteer with some birds and get to know birds in general, it is equally if not more important for at least one of the parents to do the same.

This is a moment for the parents to be the adults and the decision-makers, I would address all issues to them. Unfortunately, if they are accustomed to giving Anne whatever she wants, I would not expect a good outcome from this situation.
 

PetFoster

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I agree with your primary point, which is this hinges upon the parents.


That said, as someone who grew up on a horse farm, I disagree that this is a parallel.

Unless the family owns a farm, horses are boarded at a stable that is responsible for their primary care. Further, a horse does not disrupt their household in any way (unless you count the smell from barn clothes). If the child loses interest, the horse's stall continues to be mucked out, they still get turned out for exercise, and have steady access to food and water until the horse is sold. The horse might not get groomed or ridden, but its primary needs aren't in question. Often, the horse isn't even bought, it's leased.
As long as an animal's primary needs of food, shelter, and medical care are met -- this might be okay for many "pets", but for a bird, that list is incomplete. Just as important is providing a social bond -- in birds, it is a need, not a want. You might get away (in some cases) with providing a mate to your bird, but being part of a flock is just as crucial to a bird as healthy food. There are rescues and sanctuaries FULL of parrots who have been seriously damaged by a lack of proper socialization (in addition to birds who were fully beloved but had to be surrendered for unforeseen circumstances). If there is a parrot rescue or a shelter nearby that takes in parrots, it is a great idea to have this family visit. I feel like no one should bring a bird into their home unless they have first done this; if there is not a rescue nearby, I can think of a few run by folks who would be more than happy to talk about the challenges and considerations a family should understand before bringing home a parrot (and, then, they would talk about all the great things too, of course!).
 

PetFoster

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Our family kept a budgie when I was growing up, and that was the only pet we ever had. My dad did most of the work of cleaning the cage, making sure it was fed, and socialized (he taught all our birds to talk, and they had extensive vocabularies!). That said, even budgies can be tricky for most kids to keep. They have quick movements, require oodles of patience to train, and it can be difficult to understand their body language just because they are so small. When I was in college, my dad got me a cockatiel (I lived in an apartment by myself, and I am pretty sure he would have taken it back home with him if that was ever needed). It might be a better choice for this family, but even cockatiels really need human interaction and connection if they are kept as a solo bird. They need routine and attention and you can't just leave extra food in their cage if you want to go out of town for the weekend.

Fortunately, my husband thought Jack (my bird) was funny and interesting, and was more than happy to join our little twosome! ;) Of course, then he needed is own bird, so...
 

Shezbug

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I’m curious if the family has asked for the input of others regarding this situation.

Not all 13 year olds are irresponsible or the same, not all families are the same, not all parents do their parenting the same… there’s a lot of things to take into account in this situation with the minimal information given and without the actual family being here to discuss this topic I don’t feel it’s right to try to discourage simply based on the child’s age or the fact that the OP feels the child is spoilt- I really feel there is not nearly enough information to make a suggestion or form an opinion either way regarding the young persons wish for a bird - without knowing more about the family or if they want input from others I’m not sure making assumptions that the bird will end up in a bad way or neglected is fair.

I also fail to see how having a cockatiel or smaller bird is ok in this situation if everyone thinks this young person shouldn’t have a macaw- yes macaw upkeep will cost a little more, macaws are louder than many other birds and can do more beak damage but they overall need the exact same level of care and commitment as any other bird/pet.

I really think it’s best to hear from the family themselves regarding this situation before deciding or telling them this is a flat out bad idea.
 

FeatheredM

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@Shezbug

I also fail to see how having a cockatiel or smaller bird is ok in this situation if everyone thinks this young person shouldn’t have a macaw- yes macaw upkeep will cost a little more, macaws are louder than many other birds and can do more beak damage but they overall need the exact same level of care and commitment as any other bird/pet.

Yes, you are right on that, it is just easier and less scary to some to handle bigger birds. I have met and seen people who are totally fine holding a smaller bird but then are terrified of holding a bigger bird. Which is what I suspected since the parents do not want to interact with the bigger bird. But you are extremely right when you say we do not know the whole situation. It is just good to put in as much input as we don't know what will apply or not :)
 

tka

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Bear in mind that a cockatiel can live for 15-20 years. @sunnysmom has a couple in their late 20s and 30s.

Any parrot is a long term commitment that will require the parents' support.
 

Screech

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Just want to say a conure or cockatiel is still a lot of commitment. I personally have seen a lot more smaller birds neglected because it's just a 'little dumb bird'. Say that bird lives 20 years and then the bird is still there when she's 33.
That's different if say she had an aviary with a small flock of cockatiels. You can have an aviary with lots of enrichment, good food and a small flock of cockatiels housed there with pretty much no human interaction apart from cleaning and feeding and they'll be quite happy. Still costs a bit when factoring in the aviary, food and vet bills but if they (her and her family) are willing to care for those birds that way they will most likely not have any behavioural problems related to not enough or not appropriate social interaction.
Some 13 year olds can/could care for a Severe macaw better than some 33 year olds and I don't think it's fair to judge that on her age at all. Everyone is different and have different plans in life, not everyone is going to go to college.
 

sunnysmom

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Bear in mind that a cockatiel can live for 15-20 years. @sunnysmom has a couple in their late 20s and 30s.

Any parrot is a long term commitment that will require the parents' support.
Yes, I currently have a 22 year old tiel and 32 year old tiel. I honestly haven't read this whole thread. It's very long. LOL. But I will throw in my 2 cents regarding the initial post. I think any parrot is a family parrot. If the entire family isn't on board, things are not going to work out. I have met some young people with parrots and they are amazing with them. Really amazing. I would say they are the exception, not the norm. And as has been discussed before, a young person has no idea what there future holds- college, travel, moving for a job, etc. That's the big problem. Unless it is a family bird, and the parents, siblings, whoever, are going to take care of the bird, it's going to be another bird in the rehome system.
 

Tyrion

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Like everyone is saying the bird no matter what kind needs to have the family involved ..I feel that any bird that comes into this family if not backed by the family will have issues .. Like I said I had several pets when I was 13 and with my moms help we did just fine and when I couldnt look after them my mom chipped it ..a Macaw might be to much bird for the family or it might fit in really well you never know ... :D
 

Chelsip

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If not a Macaw, then would you recommend something smaller? A cockatiel prehaps?
I've had my cockatiel since I was 15, and though I've given him a wonderful life, I wouldn't make the same choice again if I could go back. I'll echo what others have said that parrots should be family pets, and not a child or even an individual's pet. I think a 13-year old would be much better off volunteering at a parrot rescue or even a zoo if possible and waiting until they are in a stable, long-term situation before adopting "even" a cockatiel or budgie (or really any pet at all).
 

A.K

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Thank you for all your advice guys.

@Shezbug
The only reason I suggested a cockatiel, and the reason I believe other’s did too, was because it was a smaller bird. I had a feeling that Anne’s parents would be more comfortable handling a smaller bird. I was also going to suggest that the bird be considered a family pet, but Anne has the majority of the responsibility over it.

I think I have made up my mind over what to do. First, when I see them tomorrow, I am going to suggest Anne to volunteer at a parrot shelter. If she proves that she understands parrot’s needs, then I’ll recommend a cockatiel as a family pet. That way, if Anne stops caring for the parrot, then her parent’s can intervene.
 
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