• Welcome to Avian Avenue! To view our forum with less advertisments please register with us.
    Memberships are free and it will just take a moment. Click here

Macaw as a first bird

RockysMom

Meeting neighbors
Joined
11/2/22
Messages
23
Hi everyone!

I know most people say that it's a bad idea to get a macaw as a first bird but they're my dream pet. I've thought about getting an IRN or GCC first because they're better for beginners but I'm worried that I wouldn't love it as much once I get a macaw or I won't be able to care for multiple birds. My mom offered to care for it but it just feels wrong to get a bird that will live 20+ years just because they're a better starter bird.

I've done quite a bit of research on macaws. I've read threads on here and watched a lot of Parrot Wizard and Bird Tricks videos to learn about training. I've also interacted with them at a pet store, so I'm aware of how loud they can be. I would volunteer at a rescue to gain experience but there aren't any near me.

I live with my mom and she's totally on board with me getting a macaw. She'll help with training and would be willing to care for it if I was no longer able to. Also, there's an amazing vet near me who treats exotics (she's treated my reptiles). I could take the macaw to her for checkups and other medical care.

What do you guys think? Is it a terrible idea for me to get a macaw considering I have no experience with birds?
 

Animallover03

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Joined
12/2/15
Messages
6,977
Location
Iowa
Real Name
Audrey
@Macawnutz @Clueless (tagging these two as Sarah has lots of macaws and Clueless jumped right in to large bird ownership :) )

If you don't mind me asking, are you a minor or in a stable point of your life? Any bird, especially a macaw, is a huge commitment and can really be difficult as you go through different life stages/growing up. As someone who has both a GCC and a severe macaw the GCC is definitely easier to ensure is cared for when I'm gone. After volunteering at the Iowa Parrot rescue for many years I adopted Levi (so I had experience around macaws and other large birds) but I'm still learning from her constantly. I was a minor when I adopted her and my life has gone in directions I would never have imagined since then.
I know you said there isn't a rescue in your area but I would highly recommend traveling to at least visit one as it is impossible to comprehend the sheer mess, noise, and care requirements macaws have. This is not to deter you by the way, I just want to give you a realistic point of view and not a sugar coated one as macaws are kinda a big deal lol. If you really want a macaw don't get another bird until you can step up to them, instead get macaw experience and prepare yourself to become a macaw parront. They aren't really pets.. having birds is a lifestyle :)
 

Shezbug

ASK ME FOR PICTURES OF MY MACAW!
Super Moderator
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
4/28/18
Messages
25,983
Location
Vic, Australia
Real Name
Shez
If a macaw is what you want then it is a macaw you should be working towards getting when the time is right. Having another species of bird will not teach you how to deal with a macaw and if it is not the bird you want then you will not be as invested in it as you will need to be- this is unfair to you both.

Have a search on the macaw motorway for this exact question being asked by others before you- there are some really great bits of advice and information on things to consider from our members regarding this exact issue.

My biggest concern reading your post is that it sounds like you may be a minor and there are so many stages you go through as you are growing up that having a macaw will either just make harder or impossible to do while still caring properly for your bird. Also the thought that you can just pass off the bird onto mum if you cant do it any more may not even be a possibility- you need to consider that your bird may choose to not like your chosen person to hand over care to which would be miserable for both involved... my macaw has lived with my grown children and my mum since he was a baby- he now reluctantly accepts my mum but I do not think she would be safe if she had to cage him or deal with him out of the cage anymore as he is not her biggest fan, my son has to pick my birds good moments to interact so he will check what kind of response he gets from my bird before entering the room when my bird is not caged.

No one here with experience would ever steer you towards the people you mention to learn from- the experienced members here would however steer you towards actual behaviourists who are qualified in the field they work in.

Definitely stick around here and learn all you can- much better resource than the ones you are using now ;)
 

RockysMom

Meeting neighbors
Joined
11/2/22
Messages
23
@Animallover03 Thanks so much for your reply. I'm 19. I currently work part-time and take online college courses so I'd be able to spend a lot of time with the macaw while it's young. I also don't travel very often because of my other pets. After I finish school I'm going to work full-time, but my mom works from home most days so she could be with the macaw. I'm planning to move out in a couple of years but I'm going to stay in the same town. Do they always need a person with them? If in the future my mom or someone else couldn't be with my bird during the day, could I get get a second macaw so they could keep each other company? I understand what you mean about how owning birds is a lifestyle. I know birds require way more attention, but I breed snakes and spend a ton of time cleaning and feeding them, especially during breeding season when I have to get 60+ picky babies to eat :laughing2:
 

Shezbug

ASK ME FOR PICTURES OF MY MACAW!
Super Moderator
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
4/28/18
Messages
25,983
Location
Vic, Australia
Real Name
Shez
 
  • Like
Reactions: tka

Shezbug

ASK ME FOR PICTURES OF MY MACAW!
Super Moderator
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
4/28/18
Messages
25,983
Location
Vic, Australia
Real Name
Shez
A search on here will also get you all the information you need to understand why no one here uses BT or PW as training resources.

@Shezbug Thanks for the info. What are some better resources?
 

Animallover03

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Joined
12/2/15
Messages
6,977
Location
Iowa
Real Name
Audrey
@Animallover03 Thanks so much for your reply. I'm 19. I currently work part-time and take online college courses so I'd be able to spend a lot of time with the macaw while it's young. I also don't travel very often because of my other pets. After I finish school I'm going to work full-time, but my mom works from home most days so she could be with the macaw. I'm planning to move out in a couple of years but I'm going to stay in the same town. Do they always need a person with them? If in the future my mom or someone else couldn't be with my bird during the day, could I get get a second macaw so they could keep each other company? I understand what you mean about how owning birds is a lifestyle. I know birds require way more attention, but I breed snakes and spend a ton of time cleaning and feeding them, especially during breeding season when I have to get 60+ picky babies to eat :laughing2:
As @Shezbug said, a macaw may not like your mom. My macaw HATES my mom with a passion to the point where my mom cannot even feed her safely (and yes, the cage has feeder doors, Levi just really does not like my mom for some reason).
When you plan on moving out, will you be purchasing a house? Very few apartments will even allow a bird, no less a macaw. I am the same age as you and moving away from home is a huge deal just because of that. Currently I attend an out of state college in a small town meaning I have to live in dorms and obviously cannot have either of my birds. My gcc LOVES my mom and tolerates my brother and dad so he lives at home with them (and my mom loves him too so it works) but my macaw I am just lucky enough to have a friend with large macaws who sees me like the daughter she never had and is graciously caring for Levi until I am able to get my own place and I can visit as often as I want. Plus Levi really likes her. If I didn't have this friend I would not have been able to attend the college that I am... I made a commitment by getting my birds and if it means I have to make sacrifices to keep them I am willing to do that. Also, financially consider how much birds cost. It is more than expected for quality cages, toys, perches, food, and vet visits. Is this vet avian certified? If nothing else an exotics vet will work but a proper avian vet is really the best way to go if at all possible. What general area are you located (if in the U.S. what state?)? I'm sure our members could help you find a great avian vet if needed :)
You say you have many other pets, would you have the time for a macaw? A good friend of mine is a snake breeder as well and I know the time commitment they have, which does not leave much time for a bird. I'm not saying you don't have time, I am genuinely asking what you think.
Getting a second macaw can either be good or cause more issues. First, if they bond they may decide to hate you. We have that happen a lot at the Iowa Parrot Rescue with the large macaws. Second, if they do not get along at all then you now have to spend twice the time on your birds as they must be kept separate for their safety. This also means twice the cost, twice the mess, and twice the noise.

If a macaw is what you want continue doing your research and when the time is right get a macaw. There are tons of incredibly knowledgable members on this forum that will share their experience and information, so it's great to see you here! Until you have more real-world experience with them I would say please continue researching. Another thing to consider is if you get a baby, they often change SO much with sexual maturity. When you adopt a rehomed/rescued bird you know more of what you are getting and what their personality may be as they are typically already adults when rehomed. May I ask, have you considered mini macaws? Or are you only interested in the large macaw species?
 

Clueless

Joyriding the Neighborhood
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Avenue Concierge
Joined
11/3/12
Messages
24,095
I was totally without an ounce of bird experience when I wound up with 2 blue front amazons, both males, both were wild caught even. I was a bit surprised later to discover they were known as part of the "hot three".

Can it be done? Yes. But again, like others said, you have to WANT to do this and COMMIT to it.
 

Big Blues

Rollerblading along the road
Avenue Veteran
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
10/16/09
Messages
3,003
Hi everyone!

I know most people say that it's a bad idea to get a macaw as a first bird but they're my dream pet. I've thought about getting an IRN or GCC first because they're better for beginners but I'm worried that I wouldn't love it as much once I get a macaw or I won't be able to care for multiple birds. My mom offered to care for it but it just feels wrong to get a bird that will live 20+ years just because they're a better starter bird.

I've done quite a bit of research on macaws. I've read threads on here and watched a lot of Parrot Wizard and Bird Tricks videos to learn about training. I've also interacted with them at a pet store, so I'm aware of how loud they can be. I would volunteer at a rescue to gain experience but there aren't any near me.

I live with my mom and she's totally on board with me getting a macaw. She'll help with training and would be willing to care for it if I was no longer able to. Also, there's an amazing vet near me who treats exotics (she's treated my reptiles). I could take the macaw to her for checkups and other medical care.

What do you guys think? Is it a terrible idea for me to get a macaw considering I have no experience with birds?
Hi, macaws are beautiful and totally understand why they can be a dream pet. There is lot's to consider when deciding to add one to your family. Are you considering a rehome, rescue or baby? Totally different considerations issues on all 3. Understanding that a macaw can have behaviors similar to a small child is important to know. They have expectations and choose a person to love; could be you or could be your mother and can change if they don't get their way. They also show jealousy behaviors against the person other than the one they choose to love. Consider getting experience with a different species might help understanding living life with a bird. Consider where you live and will live in the future as macaws can live up to 90+ years proven and will neighbors love the loud sound of a screaming macaw when you or your mother are not around able to give attention. Things to consider and others may join in on their opinion of things to consider to help you decide.
 

sunnysmom

Ripping up the road
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
9/16/13
Messages
28,883
Location
Pennsylvania
Real Name
Michelle
I always say get the bird you want from the start as it is often a lifetime commitment. However, one needs to understand what they are getting into. A macaw needs lots of space and a very large cage. I mention the cage because moving with a large cage is not easy. The upkeep for a macaw is also expensive. Toys alone can be easily $100 a month if not more. It's great that you have such a good support system with your mom. I would suggest trying to adopt a bird and finding one that likes you both. Often a rescue will have some idea of a bird's personality- a one person bird etc. As for training, I recommend Pamela Clark and Barbara Heidenreich. I think Barbara 's book Good Bird is a must read for all bird owners.
 

BrianB

Rollerblading along the road
Avenue Veteran
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
2/22/17
Messages
1,794
Location
Phoenix, AZ
I get this a lot working at the bird store. My advice is this - if you want a big bird for your first bird, then get one, BUT do the research first so you understand what you're getting into. You're looking at a massive commitment to an animal that can be equated to a non-verbal special needs child who never grows up and can never take care of itself. You've done some research but those resources aren't always the best ones. Find every book you can on macaws and read it cover to cover. Go volunteer at a rescue. You'll come across birds that have extraordinary lives and some that have been treated horribly by equally horrible people. Clean cages, get dirty, get pooped on, and get bit. This is what daily life will be like. Once you've done that, then you take a look at the financial aspect of it. With food prices rising what will you feed your bird? High-quality pellets and fresh fruits & veggies for optimal health, or seeds because they are affordable. Consider that whatever you buy, you will probably throw at least 30% of it away due to the bird wasting it. You will need several thousands of dollars in reserve for vet care. That fund can be erased in a single vet visit. Life changes, usually without warning and faster than you expect. What happens if you become ill, or a family member does and you need to take care of them? What is your plan for your bird when life changes? What about future relationships or children? What if your bird doesn't like your spouse, or as happened to a friend of mine - what happens if your macaw gets jealous and goes after an infant? How do you provide a safe environment for your child, and if you can't, what options are available to you? It can seem overwhelming, but if you put in the time and effort, a macaw can make an amazing lifelong companion.
 

Toy

Rollerblading along the road
Avenue Veteran
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
4/14/10
Messages
1,677
Location
PA
I have 3 parrots.....A B&G Macaw (age 2 years 6 months), a U2 (age 23 years 4 months) &b a CAG (age 23 years 5 months). My previous macaw, that was a rescue age 2 when I got her, had been abused & neglected, passed at age 23 from kidney disease. It took me months to get her to adjust & trust me. Once I earned her trust she became an amazing companion.

I would say the easiest to care for is the CAG. Why? because she prefers to stay on her cage, is not a hands on bird (as most CAGs do not like being touched) & eats less than the other 2 parrots. She's easy on toys, so not expensive in that area. However if I had my choice of one of the 3....it'd be the macaw. Why? because I find macaws more outgoing, more less fearful of new things & more willing to be included in daily activities. Neither of my macaws will/would allow anyone to pet or get too close to anyone other than myself. As with most parrots they choose one person. Macaws eat a lot of food & they waste a lot of food. They require in-shell nuts, which can be expensive, as is a good seed mix, which they also waste a lot. The cost of parrot food has gone up a lot since I first got parrots. Pellets have doubled in price & it's expensive to have them shipped. Seed mixes have also almost doubled in price. A macaw can buzz thru a $60.00 toy in a day or two. They can be heard a couple blocks away if/when they decide to scream & they will. Breeding calls can be loud, annoying, ear shattering. My previous macaw was not destructive, but my current macaw is. She can destroy just about anything you can imagine. She bends metal chain links, she snapped metal keys in half, snaps coconut shells like a hot knife thru butter, she tore her cage lock apart. My previous macaw could be left out of her cage & not destroy anything, she'd remain on her cage or come looking for me. My current macaw can't be trusted for a nano-second, as she goes looking for things to destroy. In the blink of an eye she took a chunk out of my heavy rubber desk chair arm. Macaws are often nippy, liking to pinch you. When hormones kick in they can get nesty, grumpy & very loud.

A macaw will require a large very sturdy cage, in-shell nuts/seed mix/pellets & daily veggies, lot of toys & a bank account for any possible health issues. They require daily out of cage time, plus a large play gym. Once your life changes & it will, you will need to make sure your life style allows for a macaw. More often than not a parrot will not accept a new person in your life just like that. Basically said new person in your life (SO, spouse, etc.) will be required to tolerate the bird. Parrots can also sense the adrenaline level, so kids can set them off, as kids have high adrenaline levels. There a lot of positives & negatives of having parrots. Vacations are a problem, as you need to find someone to care for your bird while you are away. It's not easy.

So in a nut shell if you are insistent on getting a macaw I say go for it, but research, learn, volunteer at a rescue, save up the funds, etc. first.
 

Tyrion

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Joined
1/22/15
Messages
6,797
Location
Oh Canada
Real Name
Annette Thompson
I would suggest if you want a Macaw then get a Macaw ..there are mini ones if you dont want a large one .. Remember they live for a very long time so you have to be prepared to keep them for the amount of time they are alive ..They are loud very loud so you must be prepared to deal with screaming and so does your mom ..Im glad your mom is on board ..feeding can get expensive with fresh food given daily and good pellets the price can go very high ...vet fees need to be thought about for simple things like nail trimming unless you are going to do that yourself these fees can get very high... A good huge strong cage is another expense along with toys ..these are more expensive for larger birds ... to cut cost of caging there are always 2nd hand cages that can be found for a reasonable price .. Best thing to do is research ..research and then do more research ...Best of luck :)
 

Hahns0hmy

Walking the driveway
Joined
6/1/19
Messages
250
Location
new york ny
Real Name
Adam
at 19 I wouldn’t even recommend a mini macaw. the noise alone will get you thrown out of an apartment. listen to what everyone is saying and keep it as a dream for now. its a lot of time. at 19 just beginning. the bird will limit you at this age.
 

Animallover03

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Joined
12/2/15
Messages
6,977
Location
Iowa
Real Name
Audrey
at 19 I wouldn’t even recommend a mini macaw. the noise alone will get you thrown out of an apartment. listen to what everyone is saying and keep it as a dream for now. its a lot of time. at 19 just beginning. the bird will limit you at this age.
As someone who is 19.. yes :( as much as I love my birds I am very limited by them.
 

Shannan

Rollerblading along the road
Mayor of the Avenue
Joined
7/27/21
Messages
1,080
Real Name
Shannan
I cannot speak to the Macaw end because I have never owned one but I do want to offer some advice from someone who started bird ownership at age 17. I would say that it if the Macaw is one you are dedicated to then more important than how old you are when you get it is that you get the right individual bird for your lifestyle. I have an African gray and he has always been very adaptable. That made it easy for me. He easily accepted the moving around, the different cages as I went from only having room for the minimal size (of course he only really slept in his cage back then) to upgrading several times (Each boyfriend wishing to impress me, bought him a bigger cage). I suggest you find a rescue and work carefully with that rescue. DON"T take the first Macaw you see. Make sure the bird likes your Mom, is adaptable to new situations, and is not overly aggressive to new people because believe me as a young person your bird will meet a LOT of people. Walter has stayed with my best friend for a summer, my sister for a few weeks, my daughter and my son. I have had friends who have an African Gray that would never be able to handle what Walter has willingly taken on. Were I you, I would highly consider a more senior bird as they are usually easier to determine their longtime personalties (Plus less hormonal problems). Also back your way into the bird. Set goals and financial steps. First, set up your vet emergency fund. Then save up and purchase the correct size cage, supplies, etc. Once you have all of the equipment, find your avian vet (plus a back up if possible). Your Mom is on board to help and that is more than a lot of people have. (I was lucky that my family was very supportive although my Mom did become allergic to Birds). Ideally if you could work with a rescue and then foster a bird for awhile before settling into the permanent lifestyle. Also if you have any dreams of traveling you might want to take a few of those Life long, life changing, cross country (or overseas) trips. That way you gain that experience before settling into being owned by a bird. I don't regret getting Walter when I did but I do know that there were some sacrifices and changes that I had to give up for the sake of Walter. (I wanted to teach for the Dept. of Defense but did not because quarantine was too risky for Walter). On the positive side, Walter has seen me through a lot and our bond is deep. He is very trusting of me because of all the time I have invested in him. He helped raise my children, and has been the rock consistency for as long as I can remember. Of course my husband and all my friends have to pass the Walter test. (If Walter doesn't like you, its never gonna work....)
 

Animallover03

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Joined
12/2/15
Messages
6,977
Location
Iowa
Real Name
Audrey
I cannot speak to the Macaw end because I have never owned one but I do want to offer some advice from someone who started bird ownership at age 17. I would say that it if the Macaw is one you are dedicated to then more important than how old you are when you get it is that you get the right individual bird for your lifestyle. I have an African gray and he has always been very adaptable. That made it easy for me. He easily accepted the moving around, the different cages as I went from only having room for the minimal size (of course he only really slept in his cage back then) to upgrading several times (Each boyfriend wishing to impress me, bought him a bigger cage). I suggest you find a rescue and work carefully with that rescue. DON"T take the first Macaw you see. Make sure the bird likes your Mom, is adaptable to new situations, and is not overly aggressive to new people because believe me as a young person your bird will meet a LOT of people. Walter has stayed with my best friend for a summer, my sister for a few weeks, my daughter and my son. I have had friends who have an African Gray that would never be able to handle what Walter has willingly taken on. Were I you, I would highly consider a more senior bird as they are usually easier to determine their longtime personalties (Plus less hormonal problems). Also back your way into the bird. Set goals and financial steps. First, set up your vet emergency fund. Then save up and purchase the correct size cage, supplies, etc. Once you have all of the equipment, find your avian vet (plus a back up if possible). Your Mom is on board to help and that is more than a lot of people have. (I was lucky that my family was very supportive although my Mom did become allergic to Birds). Ideally if you could work with a rescue and then foster a bird for awhile before settling into the permanent lifestyle. Also if you have any dreams of traveling you might want to take a few of those Life long, life changing, cross country (or overseas) trips. That way you gain that experience before settling into being owned by a bird. I don't regret getting Walter when I did but I do know that there were some sacrifices and changes that I had to give up for the sake of Walter. (I wanted to teach for the Dept. of Defense but did not because quarantine was too risky for Walter). On the positive side, Walter has seen me through a lot and our bond is deep. He is very trusting of me because of all the time I have invested in him. He helped raise my children, and has been the rock consistency for as long as I can remember. Of course my husband and all my friends have to pass the Walter test. (If Walter doesn't like you, its never gonna work....)
Agreed! The looking for an adaptable bird part is super important, and something I didn't even think to mention!
 

Clueless

Joyriding the Neighborhood
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Avenue Concierge
Joined
11/3/12
Messages
24,095
I cannot speak to the Macaw end because I have never owned one but I do want to offer some advice from someone who started bird ownership at age 17. I would say that it if the Macaw is one you are dedicated to then more important than how old you are when you get it is that you get the right individual bird for your lifestyle. I have an African gray and he has always been very adaptable. That made it easy for me. He easily accepted the moving around, the different cages as I went from only having room for the minimal size (of course he only really slept in his cage back then) to upgrading several times (Each boyfriend wishing to impress me, bought him a bigger cage). I suggest you find a rescue and work carefully with that rescue. DON"T take the first Macaw you see. Make sure the bird likes your Mom, is adaptable to new situations, and is not overly aggressive to new people because believe me as a young person your bird will meet a LOT of people. Walter has stayed with my best friend for a summer, my sister for a few weeks, my daughter and my son. I have had friends who have an African Gray that would never be able to handle what Walter has willingly taken on. Were I you, I would highly consider a more senior bird as they are usually easier to determine their longtime personalties (Plus less hormonal problems). Also back your way into the bird. Set goals and financial steps. First, set up your vet emergency fund. Then save up and purchase the correct size cage, supplies, etc. Once you have all of the equipment, find your avian vet (plus a back up if possible). Your Mom is on board to help and that is more than a lot of people have. (I was lucky that my family was very supportive although my Mom did become allergic to Birds). Ideally if you could work with a rescue and then foster a bird for awhile before settling into the permanent lifestyle. Also if you have any dreams of traveling you might want to take a few of those Life long, life changing, cross country (or overseas) trips. That way you gain that experience before settling into being owned by a bird. I don't regret getting Walter when I did but I do know that there were some sacrifices and changes that I had to give up for the sake of Walter. (I wanted to teach for the Dept. of Defense but did not because quarantine was too risky for Walter). On the positive side, Walter has seen me through a lot and our bond is deep. He is very trusting of me because of all the time I have invested in him. He helped raise my children, and has been the rock consistency for as long as I can remember. Of course my husband and all my friends have to pass the Walter test. (If Walter doesn't like you, its never gonna work....)
Wow, great answer!!!
 
Top