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The good, the bad, and the ugly about Large Macaws

tozie12

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The attributes listed in this thread are the experiences of each individual and your experiences may differ with your individual bird.

I have a scarlet macaw. He came to me at "two or three' and has been with me for 4 years. That puts him about 6 or 7, i'm thinking he's closer to 7 than 6. I call him a male but he's not DNA tested so i really dont know what his gender is.

Scarlet macaws are stereotyped to be nippy/beaky. I've seen many sources say this isnt always true but my mac is most definitely beaky/nippy. He is very mouth-oriented. He is compelled to taste, touch, test everything with is mouth/beak. When he came to me, i had to teach him how hard is too hard. he genuinely didnt know his own strength.

when he bites, he's a crusher rather than a cutter. his beak is designed to crush nuts in the wild so it only stands to reason. now that's not to say, he cant cut or poke with that long point, but generally his bite is a crushing bite that bruises more than cuts or slashes like a 'zon for instance. The power in that beak is great but he can be so very delicate with it, too!

a word about noise. :eek: um LOUD is a good one. you can easily hear him from a couple blocks away when he shrieks, and that's with him in the house with all the doors and windows closed. Its a high pitched shriek that has no problem breaking the glasses in my neighbors' cabinets! :hehe: He talks up a storm, tho too. he can carry on a conversation, tho not quite a linear conversation. he understands alot!

When it comes to cuddling, my mac could easily be re-classified as a cockatoo! As he's gotten older, he doesnt cuddle as much as he did when he was still a youngster but he still will happily cuddle with me. he will snuggle up on my shoulder to my head and wrap his wing round me as if to hug. :heart:

Distruction. wow! that huge beak can do damage with ease! one gentle looking exploratory nibble and you havent any buttons on your shirt! or you have a nice little chunk outta your door molding. It really doesnt look like he's exerting any pressure, but that is just deception.

the patented macaw lunge! omg! they are SO WELL KNOWN for this move. my skittles is no different. his favorite game is scare the human. lunge, flap, and holler... human jumps or flinches. he's a happy guy! Macaws LOVE drama. any drama. if you dont give it to them, they will TAKE it from you! if he nips and gets no reaction, he thinks "oh! she didnt feel it.. i'll hafta try HARDER" so i just give it to him. a light nip and a 'rawhr!!' and he and i are hollering together. he gets his drama and i dont end up with horrible bruises!

i'm sure there's more, but that's all i have for now. who else has some great info??
 
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Chantilly Lace

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Phoenix is a miligold, (military and blue and gold hybrid) and he will always be my baby. He is 4, and he is such a little clown. He has been flighted for a few years now, and is the best flyer of the flock. He really can maneuver so well, it is fun to watch. He loves to sit on top of the tv in front of the mirror just flapping his wings, so proudly. He really loves to fly. He knows about 30 words and sounds, and practices them every morning. I love listening to him, it is so adorable. His screaming is not as bad as Paco or Picaso, he will scream but not as neurotically, and the screams won't last as long, and are not quite as loud as Picaso's. He personality is very much like most caiques that I have met, silly, always wants to be on his back and wrestling with you. He loves to be cuddled and play hide and seek, he just loves to play with you. He MUST have your full attention, and if you leave the room for even one second and he can't follow you, he will scream. And he won't stop until you come back. He definitely knows how to get what he wants. He is not super nippy, but he is a bit more unpredictable that Picaso, and he doesn't like change. When I get my hair highlighted, he will try to kill me for about 5 days. He hates wet hair, and holey moley don't ever wear a towel on your head around him! He will just lunge and try to eat me! Lol. So I have learned to read his body language and just stay away until he realizes that I am still his mommy. He loves to jump at your face, so you can barely get your hands up in time to catch him. He thinks that is the best game ever. That he will try to grab you with his beak while yelling, Getcha, Getcha, or Rawrrrrr! Lol. He thinks he is a huge boy, but he is no where as big as Picaso.

Picaso is a harlequin, and is 3. He is a bit more mellow, he rarely nips, but he pinches, ears especially, he thinks it is a game. That is why he is rarely allowed on shoulders! He will let you do anything with him, pick him up by his tail, beak, feet, you name it. He is tolerable to changes, and doesn't mind me getting my hair done! Lol. He was left with his parents until he was 3 months old, and I got him at 4 months. He was very nippy and rough at first but he has learned so much and not rarely bites. He is so much more secure and less jumpy and scared than my other birds, I really think that has something to do with him staying with his parents for that long, and for being properly fledged as well. He doesn't scare easily, and he is very pushy. If he wants something, he WILL get it. He also LOVES to be on his back, he just rolls over and lies there, waiting for you to play with him. It is really cute. He will just lie in my arms like a baby, on his back, looking up at me. It is really special and sweet. He is such a chewer and destroyer, toys are demolished in hours. So he gets more hard wood, plastic, shredding toys like vine balls, etc. that last a bit longer than plain old pine. He chews on furniture though, and has ruined every single piece of furniture in our bedroom. Expensive furniture as my husband points out quite often! He is a BIG boy, around 1200 grams, but flies so well. He loves to hang upside down on the net and flap his wings, showing off how pretty they are. It is crazy to think that both the boys have a blue and gold as one of the parents, yet they are so different personality wise. Picaso can say about 20 words, but he is a fast learner and is getting better each day. Picaso is very loud, the loudest of the birds for sure. He screams when Phoenix is upstairs with me, which makes Phoenix scream, so that is not so much fun. But I try to give him fresh food and a new toy when I take out Phoenix so we can have some peace and quiet. Or as much as possible in a house with 4 parrots! :eek:
 
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lexalayne

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LOL LOL LOL .... LOVE how they have to look at it... do you think it's the noise it makes hitting the floor or do you think they are like little boys who like to check out their poop?
 

Mythreeiggys

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I've only had my "foster" Blue and Gold for a week so I haven't experienced the true him. So far though, the good: he's super sweet and loves giving kisses. Even though he came from a somewhat crappy situation, he's happy and trusting. He loves toys and will eat anything you put in front of him. He too will try and "punk" people but its just a game. The bad: OMG, the amount of dry food he flings with his beak or picks up with his foot and throws! :eek: Just this week, he went through 4.5lbs of BH - mostly wasted and ended up out front for the squirrels. We are working on him eating pellets. The noise - I can't say it's bad but when you have a 2 year old that is napping and a bird screaming, it's a little stressful. Other then that, the noise doesn't bother me but he can shake the walls.

Overall, he's been awesome and I love having him here :)
 

tozie12

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as i'm cleaning today, i was reminded of one of the more annoying of Skittles' behavior quirks.

Scarlet macaws are very sensitive to the 'energy' of their environment. If its a high energy home, they are noisier, testier, and generally irritable. They are very sensitive birds. Why was i reminded as i was cleaning? well, my home is low energy. i do alot of sitting and watching TV. But i do have to clean.... this is a high energy activity. lots of moving round, quick motions, etc. so the ENTIRE TIME i'm cleaning, skittles screams. That LOUD JAB AN ICE PICK IN YOUR EAR SCREAM. one you can hear four blocks away. And it just grates on even MY nerves sometimes. i'm about as patient as they come when it comes to animals. Especially emotionally damaged animals. Skittles is definitely emotionally damaged. But even the most patient person in the world would become frustrated... as am i right now. As i sit calmly typing, he's fine. Eating quietly, a happy guy. But i know when i get up to finish scrubbing cages, he's gonna start screaming again. of course, i'm a bit on the dense side, it took me more than THREE years to figure out WHY he screams when i clean... or generally do anything that is a high energy task. :rolleyes: Hey, any excuse to take a rest break from cage scrubbing will do for me. ;)
 
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CrazyBirdLady

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This is about my Blue and Gold female Alex. She is approximately 12 years old and I have had her for around 6 months.

The good: She loves people! She loves attention and is an absolute clown. She makes me laugh every day. She is a fairly good eater, although that took a little effort. She loves to be touched and handled. She gives hugs and kisses and likes to lick. But, she also is very good about playing independently. She talks, saying between one word and a three word sentence. She is extremely easy to read. She makes her wants and intentions known.

The bad: I do not think this is common of the species and is likely due to her background. She is fairly nervous of new situations. She is fearful of the floor. She is VERY scared of falling and will not perch on anything that is not stable. No swings or boings for her (she barbers and clips her flight feathers so she can't fly).

Also not something I think is a species trait but she preferes to interact with one person at a time and ranks people according to how much she likes them. If her favored person is interacting with her, she will do the macaw lunge toward anyone else. She isn't really trying to bite, but I think she gets overwhelmed with too much attention.

The ugly: The only thing I can think to add here is she does a high pitched scream that gives me chills. She sounds like she is hurt but isn't. Luckily this is not frequent at all and typically doesn't last long. Otherwise I don't think she is loud.
 

waterfaller1

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The Good The Bad And The Ugly About Red Fronted Macaws


Red Fronted Macaws are considered the smallest of the large macaws. The following is my personal experience with Holly with a little general traits. Keep in mind all birds are different, have different dispositions, personalities, and genes which can play a role in how they are.
I have had Holly since she was three months old. She will be four this May.
The good
They are endearing,smart, funny, mechanical, playful, and loving, with a little mischief thrown in for good measure.:D
Seeing a red fronted macaw fly is a magical sight. They are masters of flight. Seeing your macaw hover over your head and turn on a dime is breathtaking.
Red fronts are known for the "Red Front Melt". Which is this..they can be on your shoulder say, and then all at once they just give way and fall down the front of you.:heart: And you had better catch them, they are in complete trust that you will.Holly loves to play and wrestle on the floor too. My first bird that actually likes the floor.
They are great at talking, and Holly seems to practice words for a while to perfect them. They do not show some traits other macaws do, like aggression, lunging, and biting. They can get along well with their own kind, and seem to gravitate towards them. And also, other birds of similar size. I think they are a great size in fact, especially if you like macaws but are nervous about the bigger feet and beaks of the big guys.

The bad
They can be a bit standoffish with strangers, and do seem to choose a person as their favorite. They do go through stages, one of which is a pinchy/nippy stage when about 1-2 years old. They can learn fast though, and quickly learn what is acceptable. Some people think the pitch of their call is high. Not so much volume, though they can belt it out with the rest of them, they do not share the volume/decibel level of some of the larger macaws. A friend with 40+ experience around Red Fronts says it is best to keep just one if you are wanting them as a"pet".{I am not fond of that word, but for lack of a better term} She says if you have two, they are more likely to want to be together, and not want to be quite as friendly with you. As I said they are mischievous and mechanical. Holly loves opening the feeder doors to splash food about, or opening my canary's cage, so I had to install locks on the doors. I have had to make several modifications to keep her out of things. She just cannot help it.:p


Overall I think they are just awesome, and beautiful.:)
 
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Greycloud

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Re: The Good The Bad And The Ugly About Red Fronted Macaws

My Holly girl! And....they love to talk on the phone to their Aunt Judy!:heart:
 

Holiday

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Since we're on the subject of RFMs, one of my favorite species, I'll add a few thoughts about my Zoe. I do agree with Carole that they're not as territorial or lunge-prone as some macaws, but the notion of Zoe not pinching is like the notion of Zoe not eating or pooping. They can be beaky. :) She has slackened off a bit in the years I've had her, but it's just part of who she is.

The Good: They can be a particularly intelligent species. Not all individuals are rocket scientists, mind you, but overall, they seem to be pretty well endowed with memory, verbal ability, and problem-solving skills. My RFM doesn't speak super clearly, but she's easy to understand once you're accustomed to her scratchy old-ladyish voice, and she has a large vocabulary. She uses it to speak contextually a good percentage of the time. Basically, she understands her own words about as well as I understand most of mine :). It's as simple as that. Every day, we have conversations that are so normal for us that I take them for granted, but which would make some people's hair stand on end. Here is an actual, typical example:
"Come visit me"
No, I'm busy
"I'm lonely and sad"
I know: you already told me
"I want love"
Yes I know; I'll be there in a minute
"I'm still sad. Hurry up!"
She's feisty, but she's also extremely affectionate, and she's been known to put her little head down and touch her forehead to my cheek when I've been particularly down, and say "Awww, Mommy sad..." There's absolutely no way to describe the bond we have. I'd basically jump in front of a bus for her.


The Bad: My RFM gets bored very, very easily, and she wants to be with me 24/7. With a bird as intelligent and sensitive as she is, this means that I'm usually catering to her a lot. And, I feel like a heel when I don't, because she strikes me as being like a cross between a dinosaur and a toddler.

The Ugly: If she gets really frustrated, she'll stop talking and start screaming, and that grating voice is enough to peel paint, shrivel stone, and make you want to rip your own face off. It is not a pleasant sound. Sure, the bigger macaws are louder. But the RFM voice in full scream mode is like nails on a chalkboard broadcast over a bullhorn. It has even sent me fleeing for my car on particularly bad days. :o: I've known of two RFMs who have lost their homes for this reason alone. They are not a bird for someone with sensitivity to obnoxious sounds.
 

waterfaller1

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Wonderful Holiday! I love that feisty redhead too.:heart: I feel like you do "I'd basically jump in front of a bus for her. ":heart:
 

lexalayne

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Holiday says it all. What an awesome, heart felt, description, of these wonderful birds. Thank you, I still have goosebumps. She describes exactly the way I feel with mine.
 

macawpower58

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My experience has been taught over 13 years to me by Chaos my Greenwing. For the first 10 years or so he was my boon companion, my lap dog, my shoulder snuggler, my go with me everywhere bud.

Excepting for a few maturing phases he was predictable, gentle, sassy and comical. I trusted him unflinchingly! He'd sleep on my chest while I watched TV. He's been with me at festivals, carnivals, even in the newspaper and on TV.

He showered with me, played games with me. Followed where I went, excepted all I did with joy and abandonment.

I was told Chaos was a boy, but over time I started to doubt this. Especially the last few years as intense nesting behavior started.
And with that :( my loving baby started changing.

I now have a daily battle with Chaos. I've been bit quite thoroughly several times this year. One was that crushing bite the bigmacs can do. The lunging started, the fluffed head feathers, wings out threatening behavior when I dared near the cage.

Our relationship has changed over the years, from my handfeeding him since 5 weeks, going from mom to buddy as he started to mature.
I'm not sure what our relationship will end up as now. :confused: Good days still happen, but I've lost my trust, and never allow him close to my face, and guard my hands and fingers.

Now he's not following me about the house when out, he's dragging a blanket under his favorite chair and making sweet cooing noises. At least he doesn't guard this site from me, but neither does he leave it very often to see where I'm at.

For years he shared the same room with my two smaller parrots. Now they have been moved to my computer room for their safety. Chaos is just too unpredictable. One day taking a treat offering sweetly, the next grabbing it angrily and smashing it with his beak.

I guess as our babies grow many of us will see things like this if we have our bigmacs long enough. Maybe some will luckily never see these changes.

So now I read, watch, learn, and try to change with him.

I have no idea what another 5/10 years will bring. I hope this is only a super hormonal surge stage he's going through, and with age calms and relaxes again.

No matter....he's still beloved by me. I'll find a way to keep him happy and busy even if it's not by my side, and in my arms.

It has saddened me more than I really care to admit, but I'm also not terribly shocked by it.

I just hope I'm strong enough, and patient enough to see through whatever the years bring.

I think I will be.

If someone years ago had told me my loving baby might become this crazy, fiery and aggressive feathered creature, I'd have never believed them.

The big macaws can change drastically. At least some of them as I've found out.

Today was a good day! :heart: We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Chaos 13 years old (on April 1st).
IMG_4857.jpg
 

macawpower58

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Does Chaos allow you near his blanket area?
Yes, in fact at times I believe he's wanting me to see it. It may be wrong for doing this, but I've hung a soft blanket over one corner of the chair and he loves going under it.

So far I've seen no aggression towards me when he's there.

Most of his aggression is worst near his cage. A few times it was asking him to step up. I now only offer my arm...never my hand!
 

Bokkapooh

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Can you handle him during blanket time? Does he maybe want to cuddle with you?

Have you ever tried to go under a blanket ask him to join you?

I'm asking because he sounds sexually frustrated. Or maybe mate frustrated.
 

macawpower58

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No, I haven't tried to handle him. I do think he'd cuddle, as a time or two while petting, that's when I got bit.

Frustrated, yes. I very much think this may be true. I've no idea what to do for a sexually frustrated macaw. I do supply little dish clothes which seem to be special to him. He'll drag them about with him, and rub them all over his face. Does this sound like a mating behavior?
 

NikkiCat

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I thought Elvis was a little angel. She destroys things? :0 She is a perfect bird child!
Holiday can you write a post on Elvis since you wrote about Zoe?
 
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Saemma

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Great thread everyone! Thanks for sharing!!:hug8:
 
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