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

Holiday

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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?
Sure, I can post a few thoughts, although there are a fair few B&G owners here, some of whom might have different experiences from mine. Blue and Golds are a big group, and they vary greatly in everything from size to color to personality. My Elvis is a pretty easy-going macaw and easy to live with macaw, in most ways, and I'm not entirely sure she's typical. But, then again, she is a rehome, and birds just like her are rehomed all the time, so clearly, she's not that unusual either.

Anyway, here's the GBU on Elvissa :)

The Good: Elvis is what many would call "sweet" or "forgiving," in that she doesn't hold a grudge like some large macaws can, and she'll usually offer ample warning before she pinches. She rarely pinches, and if she does, it's usually because of rough play rather than attitude, although she likes to goof-bluff sometimes like any self-respecting sassy mac. She's generally pretty gentle (when not hormonal), very easy to read, and easy to train (she'll willingly do what you ask her to for a food reward and praise). She's affectionate, loves to chat and laugh (my dancing sets her off like nothing else, and then she'll usually do a little fancy hoofing herself in response also). She speaks in context, is especially invested in labelling items and talking about herself, and while she doesn't speak a lot or altogether clearly most of the time, sometimes her speech is amply clear. She's far more willing than my RFM to stay on her play gym and keep herself occupied, and she'll spend hours sitting quietly or playing with her toys. While she loves petting and sweet talk, she's not a clingy velcro bird.

The Bad: If she climbs or flies down from her gym when I'm not looking, she can do an astonishing amount of damage to the house and furnishings in a very short period of time. She seldom does, but when she does, she makes it count. ;)

The Ugly: There are two considerations here. One is the loudness of her voice. She doesn't scream much, but when she does it is ear-splitting. I've never heard a louder bird in person. I think they must exist, but I've never personally heard one. When she gets really loud, I use headset hearing protectors. The second is not a drawback for me, because I'm fully aware of the natural and innate tendency of macaws to choose one bird or person in captivity as a "special someone" in lieu of a mate in a natural setting, and luckily, here in my household, I'm the chosen. :heart: But she is very much a "one-person bird." When she's hormonal, she can become aggressive to other people and birds who approach, and she will lash out to protect her "nest." This also is natural behavior, and when she's like this, I always admire what a successful hen she would have been in the wild. :) Somewhere in the South American rain forest there would have been some very well protected fuzzy macaw chicks.
 
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waterfaller1

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That was awesome Holiday. You have such a way with words it's almost like being a fly on the wall. :)
 

tpoduje

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Holiday and Waterfaller, thank you for the great RFM descriptions. I met this beauty, Bella, yesterday and may have the opportunity to foster her. Your descriptions ring a lot of bells from our brief hour visit yesterday, I must say, I am charmed! I couldn't believe how many unpreened feathers she had, I think it is my duty to follow-through on that job... :)

DSC_0059.jpg DSC_0151.jpg DSC_0186.jpg
 

waterfaller1

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Awww..what a beauty! She does look like she could use a dozen showers.How old is she? Good luck. Let us know how it goes. Hi Bella!:heart:
 

tpoduje

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She is 12, we're making arrangements to take her in ASAP. Will keep the forum posted as she arrives... :dance4:
 

Holiday

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She is 12, we're making arrangements to take her in ASAP. Will keep the forum posted as she arrives... :dance4:
Congratulations! They are amazing, and your girl is just beautiful. Others have other favorites, but I wouldn't take a million dollars or any other species for my RFM. :heart:
 

Noob

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Love this thread, well done everyone. More please :)
 

juliashmulia

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Re: 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.:)
Thanks for posting this! I'm so glad to have come across it. RFMs are my dream birds. I'm trying to learn all I can about them, and mostly what I've read and heard is how incredibly sweet they are. Reading what you wrote just reinforced my desire to get one. I cannot wait until we buy a house (no room for more birds in our current apartment)! Thanks again!:D
 

Mozzy

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Here's my two cents:
i had a ruby macaw. I got him as a "second hand" bird at about a year old. He was rehomed because he was a biter and a screamer.

The good:

he was a lover! Lots of kisses and snuggles! Great vocabulary and perfect comedic timing.

the bad:

He was messy!!!!! Food everywhere. Huge massive poops. And he could destroy any toy he was given in a matter of minutes.

the ugly:
he hated men and lunged and bit at the first opportunity. His scream was ear piercing!

(FYI I had to rehome him at age five when I developed a sudden allergy during pregnancy. He is VERY HAPPY in his new home.)
 

carolz7

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Awwww that is sad. I dont mind the mess, the huge poops and the destruction. But we are all different and then on top of it you developed the allergy. Good thing is he is very happy in his new home, so there is a happy ending. Macaws are not for everyone so people really need to do there homework. I have two and if it was not for my health issues i would love to own 100 of them. The love that you get in return every day is so worth it. Mine also have there ear piercing screaming but you find ways to avoid that. Also I have noticed the older they get the better the noise becomes. My greenwing is 10 and he is not at all as bad as he use to be. Now my blue and gold is going threw the terrible two's. But i will wait until he grows up,lol
 

kookaburra

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More, more! I loved reading all of the posts! :laughing12: You all keep mentioning crushing bites instead of cutting bites which is hard for me to imagine! Would you say they are worse or better than cuts and shredding bites?
 

JLcribber

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More, more! I loved reading all of the posts! :laughing12: You all keep mentioning crushing bites instead of cutting bites which is hard for me to imagine! Would you say they are worse or better than cuts and shredding bites?
:lol: Ha. That's like saying what hurts more, getting shot by a .22 calibre pistol or a .22 calibre rifle. :lol:
 

jeanna

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Maya is my 4 year old female B&G macaw that I've had since she was 4 months old. She's a smaller B&G, weighing about 950g, and is absolutely beautiful with so many shades of blue! I chose her out of 5 babies because she was the only one who wanted to step up and be pet the every time I interacted with her. I finished handfeeding and weaning her. She has never been clipped. She's still a big baby, so we'll see what changes are ahead for us!


The Good:

- She has never once pooped on me. Ever. For a bird who spends most of her time on me when she's not in her cage, this is absolutely crazy. She will hold it for as long as possible, then fly or run off of me to poop and then come back. I've never even had a poop on my sheets when she's on my bed! She goes all the way to the edge of the bed, stick her butt out as far as possible to poop on the newspaper below. I never taught this, she has done this since day 1 with me. She will also poop on command, but only if I hold her out as far from me as possible.

- On a related note, I've never had to actually train her. She picks things up naturally with zero effort on my part. She knows "come here" (recall), "go back" (fly to cage), "tree" (fly to the tree stand), "fly around" (fly from point A to A circling the room), "wings" (spread wings out), and "wave" (put foot up). Recall is near perfect (which helped me get her back when she flew off last year).
Wings!:


- She is an amazing flyer. 3.5' wingspan doesn't stop her from flying around inside a tiny apt with no problem, even through doors! She can turn on a dime and go wherever she wants. Last year when she was on her "adventure" while loose outside, I saw her outfly several angry crows when it was only her first time flying at full speed in the open sky.


- She is a pretty good talker with a super cute voice. I think she has said "hello" since I first brought her home. She tells herself "bad bird" after screaming or when she hears me or usually Jasper (my CAG) say "Stop! Shhhh... be quiet! Bad bird!" She says "bless you" after she sneezes and on her own started to say it every time I sneeze. And whenever she eats something tasty she says "mmmm!" When she's really excited she says, "look what I have!" and lots of other things. But she can't whistle at all, haha. She also laughs when I laugh. Maya also learns words from Jasper, like how to say "apple" when I give them apples.

- I haven't been bitten....yet. (I'm not stupid, I'm sure she will bite some day!) She gets beaky when she plays or when I hurt a pin feather, but it's pretty gentle. She apparently knows exactly how hard is too hard since she likes to gnaw on my fingers ALL the time. I don't even know how else to describe it besides gnaw, because it's exactly like a teething puppy gnawing at your hand minus the sharp little teeth. She will even say "ouch," "no bite," and "be gentle" while releasing me if she starts squeezing too hard, usually before I even have a chance to say it.

- She is the cuddliest, sweetest, most affectionate bird I've ever known. Cockatoos have nothing on her! Her favorite spot is right up against my face, sitting on my collar or squeezed in at my neck. She always makes sure to take breaks from preening herself to preen my hair and skin. She's obsessed with me having smooth skin, so if there are any scabs or flakes of dead skin, she tries to get them all as gently as possible. She also removes any feathers that gets on my face. In the early mornings and evenings, she will cuddle/preen on me for as long as I let her.


- She fetches ping pong balls, wrestles, and is really fun to play with physically. She rolls around and runs on the floor. She's like a little puppy! I can flip her over into any orientation and swing her around. She's big enough that I am not worried about being too rough and hurting her.

- I can touch her anywhere and everywhere and do anything to her. This means that I've never had to train or work her up to using an aviator harness. She just sits there while I put the whole contraption on her. I can pick her nose to clear any feather dander, reach in her bottom beak to grab something she shouldn't have put in her beak, play with her face wrinkles, lift her up and around... zero complaints.

- I was worried when we moved out to my small apt that our neighbors would complain. I ask everyone I see on the elevator and some people didn't even know there were birds in the building. Others say they only hear my birds in the summer while windows are open. She's actually mostly quiet and my grey definitely makes more noise throughout the day than she does. No noise in the morning until I come out of my bedroom. She only screams when she's upset that I'm not letting her out and occasionally when I leave. It lasts for 10 seconds at most. But since she's usually out when I'm home, it's not a problem. When we lived with my parents, they told me she was silent whenever I wasn't home. She has been louder and screaming more (both longer and more often) this spring, but it's tolerable.


The Bad:

- She is NEEDY. Thank goodness my grey is so independent and likes to do her own thing most of the time! Maya wants ALL my attention if I'm in sight unless she's distracted with food. She's a velcro bird. She NEEDS to be with me, on me when she's out of her cage and not eating or playing. She will follow me everywhere. I can't even go to the bathroom alone because she will follow me in and climb up my leg. And if both Maya and I are in the bathroom, Jasper flies in too. Why can't I shut the door? Read on!

- She is DESTRUCTIVE. I'm definitely not getting my pet deposit back! You turn your head for a few seconds and a chunk is missing out of your wall. I'm not kidding. There are chunks missing from every corner wall. I can't close the door because then she will dig into the trim. I think I can fill in the holes in the wall, but not wood trim so it's better to just keep every door open for her. Luckily, she doesn't go after furniture or any of my things.

- THE MESS! She started throwing her food around this year. Full bowl of pellets? Not for long because she sticks her beak in, shakes, and pellets go flying everywhere. But this isn't even as bad as the...

- ...Down feathers EVERYWHERE. African greys are known to be dusty? While Jasper may leave a bit of fine dust, there isn't much else unless she's moulting. Maya's sheds down feathers like an exploding pillow. I don't know if she plucks them out on purpose or if they are always loose, but there are white fuzzy pieces of down in varying sizes floating around my apt and getting on everything. It's also hard to vaccuum off fabrics because it clings, I have to use a lint roller on my couch! Then there's all the feather sheath particles and feathers while she's moulting. Big bird, lots of feathers!

- She does not like visitors. I live alone and she's my velcro bird, so I haven't had much opportunity to socialize her around other people. She doesn't like when I'm on the phone or video chatting - she gets loud and obnoxious because she wants my full attention. She scares my friends and my bf. She'll fly at them and beak/nip at them (doesn't actually bite, but it startles people a lot because her beak is so big). However, she steps up for confident bird people who obviously know how to handle large parrots. She also lets me set her down on some people and doesn't bother them as long as I'm right next to her. She takes food very gently from other people too, so hopefully I can work with her more on accepting others.

- She is LOUD. The worst is this super loud, super high pitched squeal that hurts my ears. Unfortunately Jasper has taken to copying her. The screams are ridiculously loud, but usually not continuous and it's more like a deeper wail/moan. Really annoying, but doesn't make me crazy like U2 screams.

- Most of all - having a large macaw really complicates my personal life. I was just out of college when I got her. On one hand, I'm glad I got her when I was young enough that she most likely won't outlive me. On the other hand, WHAT WAS I THINKING?? I definitely didn't think far enough ahead. Most people cannot handle her so it's pretty much impossible to find bird-sitters who can take her out of the cage when I leave town. I have to board her where people have experience with large macaws, which gets really expensive for long international trips and I travel often. All my housing decisions for the rest of our lives (since she has the lifespan comparable to what's left in mine) will be based on where Maya would be most comfortable. The part I really didn't foresee was how having her would affect my romantic relationships, especially when it comes to moving in together and/or moving somewhere together. Let's be honest, the great majority of people would hate living with a macaw. I don't even know what it will be like if I ever decide to have kids - I never thought I wanted them, but as I get older the idea doesn't seem so bad.


In summary - Maya is the feathered love of my life. I mean I LOVE Jasper, but Maya is admittedly my special one. We have this magical bond that I've never experienced with any other animal. When I thought I lost her last year, I hit rock bottom and it felt like my heart was gone. I didn't even realize until then just how attached I am to her. The worst part was thinking, "What am I going to do without her? We were supposed to grow old together!" I'm guessing that's how people feel when they may lose a spouse? Is this level of attachment to a bird even healthy? haha. She just adds a special kind of joy to my life. So I am willing to deal with anything and everything just to keep her and the good far outweighs the bad. However, it's only worth it because I already have her. I wouldn't recommend getting a large macaw to anyone! There are definitely days that I wish I had just gotten another grey as a second bird instead because it would have been so much easier in every way imaginable.


That was a lot longer than I expected it to be, but it should cover everything. I'll eventually update this with pics and videos to go along with each of the points. It'll probably need another update as she matures too. :)
 
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Greenwinglover

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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).
View attachment 138639
WOW chaos is the most. Crimson red GW I have ever seen (I haven't :noble: really seen many) .I was considering a greenwinges does anyone know if this a one off Because all the reasherch I've done says gentle giants. ??? :gwm:
 

lexalayne

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More, more! I loved reading all of the posts! :laughing12: You all keep mentioning crushing bites instead of cutting bites which is hard for me to imagine! Would you say they are worse or better than cuts and shredding bites?

MyToo slices clean through when she bites and blood pours instantly. She doesn't care for middle aged men. While I slowly figured this out... I think about 5-7 probably still carry her beak slashing scar and they insisted it didn't hurt but we all know better.
My Military was on my son a few months back happily bopping around his shoulders and intent on the computer screen he was watching and he had been there quite awhile. No one likes to put him back into his cage (pet store 5+ yrs) and he asked me to do it. He crunched my arm so hard and I knew better, he loves men and hadn't seen my boys in awhile. It was more of a warning to stay away, no broken skin but I swear my bone was sore in that arm for awhile. His estimated age is a bit over 10.
 
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