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I think I want a macaw as my first bird

Sparkles99

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If other species are under consideration, I'd like to put in a word for budgies. They are smart, sassy, small & many pet sitters would take them on. :) They also have long tails, which many who admire macaws admire.
 

tka

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Given what you've said, I think it would be a good idea for you stay on these forums and just get a sense of what our daily routines and interactions with our birds look like. My two girls have been out for a couple of hours so far, and we've done some target training and trick training, they've flown around between rooms, they've played with and chewed up some foot toys and we've watched a bit of a documentary. That's pretty typical for us.

What you'll notice is that they don't spend time on my shoulder, arm or even on the sofa with me. The reason for this is because Leia, my older girl, wants to form a pair bond with me. If she could, she would spend all evening on my shoulder: before I radically changed how I interacted with her, her favourite way to settle before bed was to snuggle up on my shoulder, all fluffed up with her foot tucked up. Unfortunately, this played havoc with her hormones and in her case, meant that she started to barber her feathers. I've spent a lot of time trying to change our interactions to be healthier.

Leia is a 250g Pionus and it is challenging enough dealing with her hormones. A 900g hormonal macaw who thinks you are their mate, who screams when they can hear but not see you, and who attacks your friends, family and partner when they hug you is a difficult animal to live with. Many adolescent macaws find themselves being rehomed because their desire to pair bond with a human means they develop behaviours that are hard to live with in a home.

I say all this because I sometimes worry my posts come off like I'm a click away from purchasing a bird online then running out to go pick him up. I know I switch up which bird I want, but that's mostly due to ignorance, not some nefarious intent. I don't want to give off the wrong idea then maybe get banned or something. Just wanted to assure everyone that's not the case! I know I don't know hardly anything about bird care, but that's exactly why I made this account. To connect with people who DO know what they're talking about when it comes to birds!
No one gets banned for inexperience :) Stick around, read, ask questions and learn.
 
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flyzipper

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As somebody who has 3 different sized birds, I've directly observed the fact that cost, mess and noise increase as the species does (mentioned throughout this thread).

The thing that might be lost in the simplicity of that statement is that since each metric is larger, the net effect is quite a bit different.

Something like this...
1663789391923.png
(this is overly generalized and simplified where a medium is 3x a small, and a large is another 2x over the medium -- making it 6x relative to small)
Another generalization incoming...

The other comment about noise is that smaller species are more likely to chatter for longer durations, versus large species which have the capacity to generate a large amount of noise, but usually only for short bursts. Small might be problematic for a sensitive family, while medium might be problematic for their neighbours, and large can notify the neighbourhood. Again, it's a generalization from my experience with well adjusted birds -- Marvin chatters far more frequently than Oscar (who is frequently silent), but when Oscar is outside he has the capacity to let the neighbourhood know (and the kids come to visit).
 

FeatheredM

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Once you are ready to get a bird, I think you would do well with a rescue. Going to a shelter and personally meeting birds will help help you better understand what bird you want. Choosing a bird by species is very difficult because there are even some super loud cockatiels and some super quiet ones. African grey who hates you and one who loves you. The list goes on with every individual species.
 

Mizzely

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Uhhh my Hahns and green cheek chewed up door and window frames, and blinds. :lol: And the Hahns was absolutely loud! My Jardine's is only a little bigger than she was and can out chew some cockatoos and macaws on here. Don't underestimate those smaller birds on volume and ability to destroy!

 

flyzipper

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Don't underestimate those smaller birds on volume and ability to destroy!
I did say simplified and generalized (twice!) -- thanks for reminding everyone that generalizations have limited utility when your valuables and hearing are at stake ;)
 

sunnysmom

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I think cockatiels are completely underestimated. They are really great birds. I had one with me just this week for an overnight. I was taking him to a vet appointment. He didn't "know" me but all he wanted was to sit on my shoulder and snuggle. Granted, that doesn't mean all tiels are like that. My current two are more give us attention but don't hold me birds. But I think if wanted them to be more hands on they could be. I am happy with letting them be them. But tiels really are "easy" when it comes to a parrot and not that loud.
 

PetFoster

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I ADORE my Hahn's -- but I am twice your age! I don't know how old she is, because she was adopted from the shelter I volunteer for -- I was very lucky to be able to work with and alongside MANY different species for a short time (a few months), from Hyacinth macaws and Moluccan cockatoos, to a toucan, to Senegals and conures and cockatiels and lovebirds and canaries and finches -- oh my! Lucy likes to be on my shoulder, but I don't always let her: if she is stepping up for me easily and in a respectful "mood" it is a much more pleasant experience than when she DOESN'T want to come off my shoulder but instead chomp on my ear or my neck! Even though she is smaller, she still thinks like a bigger macaw and has a fairly powerful beak.

Lucy doesn't love to play with toys, which I feel like is probably partly due to her prior life and also partly due to her species. She will play with me, and she will work on foraging toys if they are loaded up with her favorite treats. As much as I don't want her to be a one-person bird, the rest of my family is somewhat afraid of her and they do not enjoy interacting with her. I have a teenage son and daughter; while my son likes to give her treats and watch her actions, neither one will hold her (and now my daughter is away at college). My husband is somewhat interested in her but is not drawn to spend time specifically with her.

Lucy does not enjoy being touched, either, aside from brief nuzzles from my chin or stepping up. This is probably more to do with her early life, but there are just some birds (of all different species) who will not tolerate petting, and prospective owners need to be okay with that. I am still working with her to get her used to being handled for vet visits and health checks (like, touching her wings and being held gently in a hand).

We have gotten to do some fun things together: recently, we joined a research study where she got to make some "bird" friends and learned to ask to video call with them on a tablet. It was fascinating to be a part of, and Lucy really enjoyed seeing other birds and learning that she can "ask" for things. Now, she loves my phone and tablet -- I need to find some games she can play on them!

Now, because of my volunteer work, I got to adopt Lucy for no cost, and I was able to find a large, appropriate cage for her for very little money. However, I do have to spend money every month on a whole host of other things: toys (a toy that lasts any bird for more than a few months is not a good toy for them), food, perches (I have to rotate hers around), and vet care (I don't usually have to go monthly, but she has a beak condition that needs attention every 70-90 days; otherwise, I would take her in just annually, but you never know). Additionally, there are always other, more expensive, items that I am buying as I have available funds -- like training stands, foraging trees, travel carriers, and so forth.

In terms of noise, she can rival scream-y cockatoos I have been around! Usually, her call is tolerable (if not annoying and somewhat loud), but if I am not within eyesight of her, particularly at dawn and dusk, she will holler bloody murder. We live in a pretty decent sized house, and I can hear her down the block. I am fortunate, because at this time in my life, I do not have to work a regular job and my husband works from home (when he is not traveling abroad), so someone is almost always with her or at least in the house; I can spend short periods of time with her throughout the day, doing training exercises or just including her in my daily activities, and that seems to be engaging for her.

It would really take something catastrophic for me to even consider rehoming her -- like, having some sort of health issue where I lose the use of my limbs or brain function. When I brought her home, I made a promise that I would be her last "home" -- both my husband and I feel very strongly about that kind of thing when it comes to pets, and we are in agreement about giving our animals the most enriching, healthy, loving, and long lives possible.

Many (many many) years ago, when I was in high school, I took a photography course where we had a pair a picture we had taken (and developed and printed and mounted) and a quote, and I used one with a bunch of my friends (I think were 16-17 at the time). The quote I used was from Mark Twain, and these days I think about it often: "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen." If it were true, perhaps we would be able to start out with a life's worth of income earned, experience gained, and knowledge learned -- all things that really help when you belong to a parrot!
 

Carina.317

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After reading through this thread and the rest of the forum more, I don’t think a macaw would be very happy living with me. I don’t feel comfortable choosing a bird when I’m not 100% confident in my choice.

I’ve selected a blue headed pionus and now I’m going to devote the next year or two so I can research, prepare, save money, and gather all the supplies I’ll need. Then in maybe 2 or 3 years I’ll go ahead and purchase the actual bird once I’m in a more stable environment and have a very sizable extra “just in case” fund set aside just for the bird!

thank you to everyone for your replies and valuable information and expertise. I feel that I have a better grasp of what to expect from a bird and what I’ll need to know and do to be ready for one.
 

Mizzely

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Pionus are totally underrated birds. :heart:
 

Pat H

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Personally, next to our Umbrella Cockatoo, the Lovebird was the most cuddly--- "you wear a LB".
 

BrianB

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I get this kind of question a lot at the store. One of the things I tell people is that if you want a big bird for your first bird, then do it, BUT you must do the research to understand what you're getting into. I suggest they volunteer at a shelter to get an understanding of what daily care is like. Clean cages, get dirty and get bitten a few times. There is no better way to understand what kind of responsibility you're taking on. Then I talk to them about money. Big birds are expensive, they are loud, destructive, and wasteful. Buy $100 worth of food and drop $60 worth on the floor. Dump a half gallon of water on top of it then decide if you want to clean that up every day. A good diet for a bird isn't cheap. Vet care isn't cheap, and avian-certified vets are hard to find and tend to be expensive. You'll need a fund of at least $1000 just to start with, but realistically you'll need 4 or 5 times that. A single emergency vet visit can be $1000 or more. If there is follow-up care it will drain your reserves pretty quick.

Then there is my favorite - I want a bird that talks. Honestly, it's a little overrated. There are a few birds at the store that have an amazing vocabulary. One of them sings patriotic songs like Hail To The Chief, The Marines Hymn, God Bless America. She also talks to herself, screams, and will sometimes start moaning... like an adult movie kind of moaning. The green wing at the store says Hi Jasper. He has a demented laugh, and sometimes he will say Big Wing as he opens his wings all the way. Once in a while that's cute, but sometimes he's like a skipping record and will say Big Wing endlessly until one of us gets him to stop. Imagine listening to Baby Shark for 4 hours straight. It's enough to try your patience in ways you've never imagined.

Owning a macaw can be like raising a surly teenager. Can you deal with the attitude, the hormones, and that beak that they will sometimes want to use like a can opener.... on your skin?

Look at your lifestyle. Does a big bird fit into it? Do you travel a lot? If so who will take care of the bird when you're gone? Will you use a boarding facility or will you have a friend/neighbor take care of it for you? Boarding for a big macaw can run $20 a day or more. You have to add that to your vacation budget. Is your bird watcher capable of getting the bird to the vet for you? If they are afraid of the bird that will be difficult. Who will take care of the bird when you get older? If the bird outlives you, what is your plan for continual care when you're gone?

These are all things to consider when adding a big bird to your life. If you've got all of this covered and you've done the research then start with a big bird/ If not, then do the research and maybe consider something a little smaller.
 
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