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Introducing a New Macaw-Opinions?

Fluffaloo

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Faithlyn
Hey guys! I was wondering if I could get your opinion on something I have been thinking about for a while now. In a couple of months I will be starting vet school (DVM) and though my husband and I still plan to have "cuddle" time with Fumbles I worry that she would be lonely while I am at school and my husband is at work. We also will be moving to a new house soon where we are going to be building Fumbles her own indoor structure/room ( which will be air conditioned, have an air filter, etc) in the backyard, and attached will be an outdoor aviary.

That being said there would be enough room to add another macaw but I am just not sure on everything else. One of the things I am dealing with is that Fumbles is flighted and trains outside for free flight. Do you think that adding another macaw would interfere with her training if I train both of them to free fly? In addition, would it ruin her relationship with my husband and I where she would turn against us? To be honest I just want her to be happy and comfortable while I'm away and I felt that a companion would be able to provide that.

We are looking to adopt if we do get another macaw since we have a local bird store that only does adoptions. Would the macaw have to be of a different sex or is it possible to keep females together?

Things to be aware of:
1. Fumbles had siblings and was surrounded by birds in the bird store until about 3 months of age but for the past year and 9 months, she has been raised with us as our only bird and rarely met other birds from the stores.
2. She turns 2 next month.
3. She is Female DNA tested

What do you guys think? Would it be better to get her a companion or to just leave her alone while I am gone?
 

flyzipper

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First, congratulations on starting vet school!

I'm sure you've heard this before, but adding a second bird is really a toss up. The new bird might get along with Fumbles, or it might not. Fumbles might get along with the new bird, or she might not. The new bird may change the dynamic between Fumbles and the humans, or... you get the picture. I won't touch on the potential for your relationship with Fumbles to change as she matures, because that might happen whether you get another bird, or not.

That said, it's a positive, from an integration standpoint, that Fumbles isn't too far removed from being accustomed to a flock dynamic (and she's still very young).

Anecdotally, my Severe was in a one-bird household 12 years, and still behaves like he wishes that was the case (he's slowly changing, but that's his current preference). Conversely, my Military came from an environment with 8 other macaws, and his behaviour shows he understands how to live in a flock. With that as context, I think you'll have higher chance of peaceful coexistence, if the new bird is used to being around other birds. You'll definitely want details about that aspect of any new bird's history, and I would definitely avoid a bird who's used to being the only bird.

My experience with training (limited to my own) is that there's no downside to the trained bird, and potential upsides for the novice (they can see what's being asked, and I often find they respond more quickly).

Some rapid-fire points to think about:
  • You'll want similarly sized macaws if they're to be housed together (don't do what I did with a medium guy and a big guy if you want them to coexist).
  • A male addition will probably lead to you managing mating behaviour in the future (could be a pro or con depending on your wants).
  • "A couple of months", isn't much time to acquire a new bird, quarantine it, and then introduce both birds to each other.
  • If things don't work out with them being together, are you able to house them separately? What's plan B?
@aooratrix has multiple macaws, and I'm currently blanking on others who do, so hopefully they'll be able to offer their perspective.

Blind-spots for me: co-housing, and young macaws... I have limited experience with them, and have never owned one.
 
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Fluffaloo

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Faithlyn
Is Fumbles your first macaw? Have you ever worked with a large bird while it was sexually maturing? You’ll be in the deep parts of your schooling when Fumbles starts to mature, and that may be hard on all of you.
Fumbles is my first macaw and though I have not personally dealt with larger birds as they sexually mature I have done extensive research on it. The maturing phase is kind of scary to think about but at this point, I feel I will be able to handle however she turns out as long as I continue to closely monitor her behavior and react accordingly. It will be difficult but I guess its all about adapting and improvising :)
First, congratulations on starting vet school!

I'm sure you've heard this before, but adding a second bird is really a toss up. The new bird might get along with Fumbles, or it might not. Fumbles might get along with the new bird, or she might not. The new bird may change the dynamic between Fumbles and the humans, or... you get the picture. I won't touch on the potential for your relationship with Fumbles to change as she matures, because that might happen whether you get another bird, or not.

That said, it's a positive, from an integration standpoint, that Fumbles isn't too far removed from being accustomed to a flock dynamic (and she's still very young).

Anecdotally, my Severe was in a one-bird household 12 years, and still behaves like he wishes that was the case (he's slowly changing, but that's his current preference). Conversely, my Military came from an environment with 8 other macaws, and his behaviour shows he understands how to live in a flock. With that as context, I think you'll have higher chance of peaceful coexistence, if the new bird is used to being around other birds. You'll definitely want details about that aspect of any new bird's history, and I would definitely avoid a bird who's used to being the only bird.

My experience with training (limited to my own) is that there's no downside to the trained bird, and potential upsides for the novice (they can see what's being asked, and I often find they respond more quickly).

Some rapid-fire points to think about:
  • You'll want similarly sized macaws if they're to be housed together (don't do what I did with a medium guy and a big guy if you want them to coexist).
  • A male addition will probably lead to you managing mating behaviour in the future (could be a pro or con depending on your wants).
  • "A couple of months", isn't much time to acquire a new bird, quarantine it, and then introduce both birds to each other.
  • If things don't work out with them being together, are you able to house them separately? What's plan B?
@aooratrix has multiple macaws, and I'm currently blanking on others who do, so hopefully they'll be able to offer their perspective.

Blind-spots for me: co-housing, and young macaws... I have limited experience with them, and have never owned one.
Thank you! I am pretty excited to start and I know it will be a long and challenging road ahead but it will be worth it.
For the maturing factor, I have seen can go either way when it comes to the relationship with the owners so honestly, its just fingers crossed with Fumbles whether I get a companion or not, and we will love her however she turns out. Part of me is glad that she is still so young so I can watch her behavior and personality change as she grows almost like a child. I hadn't thought about the aspect of the macaw having a history around other birds so I am glad that you mentioned it. It will definitely be something I will be asking about when the time comes. At the moment the business has a greenwing who has been up for adoption for at least a year now (20 years old I believe) and a blue and gold macaw who is around 8 years old. I visit them with Fumbles when we go in to get supplies. In most cases that is where she gets her experience around other birds her size but I have noticed Fumbles has no regard for other birds' personal space or perches. I feel she has that "HI WHATS YOUR NAME??" bold, not necessarily aggressive, kind of attitude toward everything lol.

I appreciate the rapid fire points to think about too!
* I am definitley more of a large macaw person so hopefully I can stick with that but size is good to take in account.
* Are there any issues with keeping females together that you guys have experience with?
* Though we will be moving in a couple of months we want to have Fumbles all set up in her new building before adding another macaw. Though the socializing and quarantining process may be able to start before that they wouldn't move in until everything is ready. By that point, I should have a good idea of my husband and I's schedule. If needed I have family and friends who are willing to help me out too if something comes up.
* At the moment Fumbles has one of the Kings Cages Double Macaw cages that she uses without the divider but our plan was that if we get another macaw and they are moved to a room then they could use that cage as a sleep cage with the divider in place. If things don't work out initially we will either have to divide the room in half which still gives them plenty of room to fly around or have them take turns outside the cage. I would lean toward option one with dividing the room if needed. Definitely a lot of things to think about.

Thank you for your responses!
 

Hankmacaw

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Which vet school are you going to go to? I hope you don't have misconceptions about just how tough and how much of your time vet school takes - particularly if you want to do well and enhance your potential for a successful career. There will be many opportunities that will be available, but not required, that if you don't seek them will affect your standing with the people who make the decisions..

Second, your current bird does not get lonely, etc. when alone during the day. You don't need another bird for her sake. The majority of people on this forum work, many with only one bird and the birds do fine. They eat and preen and nap and fiddle around while you are gone - remember they cannot read a clock so can't watch a clock.

My advice and it is only mine, is that you wait for a couple of years and find out what vet school is really going to do to you. I doubt that you will have the time to keep up your bird's free flight training the very best.
 

Shezbug

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Burt is three and a half and what I am seeing now in his behaviour and personality is nothing like what I saw and lived with a year ago. I’m expecting that there will be even more big personality changes as he matures.
You and Fumbles have many many more changes to live through yet if my experience with Burt is anything to go by. There are times I honestly wish I had of brought two birds home on day one and then there are times I’m so pleased and grateful that I only have one large demanding bird.
 

Fluffaloo

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Faithlyn
Which vet school are you going to go to? I hope you don't have misconceptions about just how tough and how much of your time vet school takes - particularly if you want to do well and enhance your potential for a successful career. There will be many opportunities that will be available, but not required, that if you don't seek them will affect your standing with the people who make the decisions..

Second, your current bird does not get lonely, etc. when alone during the day. You don't need another bird for her sake. The majority of people on this forum work, many with only one bird and the birds do fine. They eat and preen and nap and fiddle around while you are gone - remember they cannot read a clock so can't watch a clock.

My advice and it is only mine, is that you wait for a couple of years and find out what vet school is really going to do to you. I doubt that you will have the time to keep up your bird's free flight training the very best.
I am going to Midwestern University. I do know that vet school will take a lot of time and studying every night to the point where its pretty nervewracking but that being said I believe that if you are committed then it is fully possible to both raise a family and the pets within it and complete vet school at the same time. I want to learn all I can and even participate in the clubs that feature exotics and it can be done if I plan everything right. Besides even after vet school I will have an additional 5 years of studying and practicing in mixed animal practice that sees avian and reptile species so that I can become certified in that as well. I may plan too far ahead but honestly its what I enjoy doing. It also gives me a good idea on the challenges to come. :)

Thank you for your second advice that really makes me feel better. As much as I would love to give her more time out of the cage once vet school starts I know she would have to be in longer which is part of the reason why she is getting a room/building. Another reason we were moving was to have more acreage as well. Though it is only 4 acres the area is a level one so when I do have time to fly her outside then it will be in the backyard rather than having to drive all the way to the park.

Honestly, my real concern was that I didn't want to be worried about her being lonely while I was away. I had been reading about how "Macaws need to be in pairs" and other relevant information so I wanted to research more and ask you all about it as well. I just want the best for her and for her to be happy :)


Burt is three and a half and what I am seeing now in his behaviour and personality is nothing like what I saw and lived with a year ago. I’m expecting that there will be even more big personality changes as he matures.
You and Fumbles have many many more changes to live through yet if my experience with Burt is anything to go by. There are times I honestly wish I had of brought two birds home on day one and then there are times I’m so pleased and grateful that I only have one large demanding bird.
Its funny you say that because I have noticed so many changes in Fumbles too since I first got her and probably within the past year as well. I appreciate your input too, it definitely helps put my mind at ease, and that we arent going through this alone.
 

faislaq

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aooratrix

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There is never a guarantee that 2 macaws will get along. I have 4 macaws, but they don't all enjoy each others direct company. My birds are a flock and enjoy each other's presence. The boys are buddies, and the girls are buddies: I can put them in the aviary together, and they're fine. If I put the girls and the boys together, nobody has a good time. My girls are thugs.

If I had one macaw and were going to add another, they would have to be the same sex. I wouldn't want to deal with possible pairing issues. But, as I said, I have both genders and manage just fine.

I agree that you don't need another bird to keep your bird company. You can play music, tv, rotate toys often, provide foraging opportunities, etc. In some ways, getting a bird for your bird doesn't make sense to me, unless you're trying to breed. You are going to have to have a relationship with the new bird which might be closer that the 2 birds' relationship.
 

Fluffaloo

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There is never a guarantee that 2 macaws will get along. I have 4 macaws, but they don't all enjoy each others direct company. My birds are a flock and enjoy each other's presence. The boys are buddies, and the girls are buddies: I can put them in the aviary together, and they're fine. If I put the girls and the boys together, nobody has a good time. My girls are thugs.

If I had one macaw and were going to add another, they would have to be the same sex. I wouldn't want to deal with possible pairing issues. But, as I said, I have both genders and manage just fine.

I agree that you don't need another bird to keep your bird company. You can play music, tv, rotate toys often, provide foraging opportunities, etc. In some ways, getting a bird for your bird doesn't make sense to me, unless you're trying to breed. You are going to have to have a relationship with the new bird which might be closer that the 2 birds' relationship.
Thanks for the input and it sounds like your macaws have some fun and strong personalities lol. I do leave the tv on for Fumbles when I am gone and she seems to enjoy Disney jr :).
@Fluffaloo dont have much to add that others haven’t said but . . . Can we see pictures of fumbles, as well as the separate room aviary ur talking about? It sounds super interesting and I would love to see it! I feel like I’m the nosy neighbor of AA! :lol:
I would be happy to share pictures! As I said it will still be a couple of months because the house is a new build and Fumbles isn't the only one getting a structure on the property. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Along with Fumbles, Tsunami my iguana will be getting her own room finally (after nearly 6 years waiting to build her dream home), and Sinclair our sulcata tortoise will be getting his outdoor enclosure (and oh yes it shall be escape proof). I will be sure to post plenty of pictures when it is all done.

The plan for Fumbles enclosure is that she will have her night cage in the back of the room. The walls and floor will be a tile-type material so I can wash or even powerwash everything when I need to clean and it will all go down the drain. I would like to use her manzanita tree and hopefully get a java tree to use as her main perches/stands for her to fly between. Of course, there will be toys, some cargo netting, air conditioner, air filter, tv, etc but that is just the plan. I am pretty excited for the project.
On the side of the building will be the outdoor aviary where she can fly and enjoy the sun. I am still looking for a decently priced aviary made of a good material to use.
 

KhanKrazy

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I am not a veterinarian but I am a RVT and have worked in the veterinary field for almost ten years now. In my opinion based on the info you shared... I wouldn’t get another one. Or at least... maybe reconsider your reason for wanting a second?

Its very unlikely your bird is lonely. If you do as much as you say, it sounds like you guys have a pretty solid relationship and Fumbles is as fulfilled as can be given the situation. When you start school... you’re going to be swamped. Mentally. Emotionally.

I don’t want this to come across as rude so I pray it doesn’t! But the questions you need to ask yourself are some of these. Why do you want a second bird? What can you offer him/her? What are you going to have to sacrifice to ensure that this new bird, and your current, get the best possible experiences and care? When we get animals... we’re often selfish. We think of ourselves and our wants before ever considering the animals. I’ve done this. Soooo much! Throughout my life. It’s taken me a long time to really step back and analyze that. We often apply human emotions and human concepts to animals as well. Which really is wrong. We don’t want our pets to be lonely. In the case of parrots? I understand this is a little different. Because of the nature of birds and how intelligent and emotional they are. Maybe a second bird really is a good idea for your bird. Only you can really say that because you know YOUR bird.

I just know from working in the veterinary field for so long how demanding and exhausting it is. At the end of the day, even though I had the best intentions, sometimes my animals and my family suffer. Because I can’t be there. I can’t do all the things I swore up and down I could. Even with help. Even with support. Sometimes, my job just gets in the way. And I love it. I love what I do. But my goal is always to come home and take care of MY animals and MY family after helping out everyone else’s all day. But I can’t always tick all those boxes.
 

Fluffaloo

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I am not a veterinarian but I am a RVT and have worked in the veterinary field for almost ten years now. In my opinion based on the info you shared... I wouldn’t get another one. Or at least... maybe reconsider your reason for wanting a second?

Its very unlikely your bird is lonely. If you do as much as you say, it sounds like you guys have a pretty solid relationship and Fumbles is as fulfilled as can be given the situation. When you start school... you’re going to be swamped. Mentally. Emotionally.

I don’t want this to come across as rude so I pray it doesn’t! But the questions you need to ask yourself are some of these. Why do you want a second bird? What can you offer him/her? What are you going to have to sacrifice to ensure that this new bird, and your current, get the best possible experiences and care? When we get animals... we’re often selfish. We think of ourselves and our wants before ever considering the animals. I’ve done this. Soooo much! Throughout my life. It’s taken me a long time to really step back and analyze that. We often apply human emotions and human concepts to animals as well. Which really is wrong. We don’t want our pets to be lonely. In the case of parrots? I understand this is a little different. Because of the nature of birds and how intelligent and emotional they are. Maybe a second bird really is a good idea for your bird. Only you can really say that because you know YOUR bird.

I just know from working in the veterinary field for so long how demanding and exhausting it is. At the end of the day, even though I had the best intentions, sometimes my animals and my family suffer. Because I can’t be there. I can’t do all the things I swore up and down I could. Even with help. Even with support. Sometimes, my job just gets in the way. And I love it. I love what I do. But my goal is always to come home and take care of MY animals and MY family after helping out everyone else’s all day. But I can’t always tick all those boxes.
I don't find it rude at all and I think your points are definitely helpful for new people maybe in the same predicament as well. As I said before my main reason for getting one was for Fumbles because I wouldn't want her to be lonely and therefore develop negative behaviors such as plucking but based on what you guys said I think she will be happy by herself in the new room in the future :) I wouldn't really say this was a reason for getting another macaw but another thing on my mind was to rescue a bird from a bad situation and give them the ability to fly and have freedom to hang in their own area rather than inside of a cage most of the day since unfortunately that is the case with most of the macaws I see come in. Technically though, I see that as a benefit rather than a reason to get another since Fumbles takes priority.

As far as sacrificing, etc for a new bird it would be a lot of work in addition to my own school work which is why I wanted to confront you guys because I know how much work it takes just to raise one crazy young macaw like Fumbles. I know birds are very social creatures so I just wanted to make sure I make the best decision for her. If somewhere down the road she starts to seem not as happy while I am gone at work or school and shows behaviors that lead me to believe she is "lonely" then I may reconsider adding another macaw but I think for now I will just see how it goes.

I really do appreciate the information from you all and it has put my mind at ease when it comes to worrying about her while I am gone.
 

BrianB

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I think if you have a well-rounded, well-socialized bird you won't need to for her to have a companion. When provided with plenty of toys and stimulation a bird will entertain themselves for hours on end. As Hank said, birds don't watch the clock. Adding another bird to your flock can be rewarding, but it is time-consuming. If you're tied up in vet school and as busy as it sounds you will be, something will have to give. Will it be your education or a bird? It's a hard choice to make. Focus on school and when you're done, then you might consider adding another bird to your flock. Maybe there will be some days you can take her to school with you. It might be a good change of routine for you both.
 
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