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

svetlak

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Kat, hi!

I personally do not think there is a way to know if there would be a difference between working with a younger or an older bird simply because they are all individuals.

One's approach to training/teaching and interacting with a bird of any age (or species) should, in my personal opinion, be the same: respect the bird's signals (body language), respect the bird's free will and right to choose (within safety limits of course), treat the bird with understanding, patience, love and empathy, apply what is called applied behaviour analysis in training, do not take personally any "no" coming from your bird ("no" is communication just as much as "yes" is), such as a refusal to interact with you at a given moment, or a rejection of an offered treat for example, and you will be able to develop a trusting relationship with any bird. It may take a shorter or a longer period of time for the bird to give you his/her complete trust, but birds are always a work in progress. We need to earn and keep their trust daily and try not to break it at all if possible, otherwise it is easily back to the drawing board.

If I were in your shoes and were looking for a bird to add to my current flock, and also if I had access to a rescue, I would go for a bird that would choose me, preferably an older one. I do love younger birds (not necessarily babies), don't get me wrong, but I love the older guys who need a home just as much. With an older bird, chances are his/her personality, once in full bloom after having integrated into your flock, even if that flock is made of just you and your bird, will not change too much, which may not be the case with a younger bird, which will go through stronger hormonal changes throughout the years and the personality of which may change more dramatically at time goes by. Old or young, they all change, and so do we.

I love the older guys (birds, I am talking birds here :) ). I also love those who need a bit of help in restoring their confidence and becoming a bird again (those who have, unfortunately, been through traumatic experiences). They were young once, too.

Whichever way you choose to go - younger or older, rescue/rehome or not, enjoy seeing your bird's personality unfold before your eyes, and remember, they will change with age, more likely than not.
 

bentleyesghost

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Hi. We have Chloe, a Harlequin Macaw for going on 4 years. It will be 4 years in November. She is also knows as Chlo, Chlovine, Good Girl, Baby and probably some other things. She's a good bird, a DNA tested female, born June 4, 2014 so she was about 6 months old when we got her. We learned a lot on this forum and other places which helped us avoid some mistakes. She is also, not sexually mature so there are probably some bumps in the road ahead.

She does not Scream very much, and she talks a lot. There are five humans living here and we all ignore screaming and melt away if we are in the room. At the same time wherever we are in the house, if she is talking in such a way that looks for a response somebody will answer her. When she screams, she gets silence. She'll say "Ring Ring". That means say "Hello" like you are picking up the phone. Or she'll say some part of "One, two, three, ... Peek a Boo!" Then you complete the rest. Usually she'll count. I love how she says "Thuh ree". Being a smart girl, for a while she was doing a thing where she would scream once or twice. Wait. Get nothing. Then try "Ring Ring" or something. I was afraid that was going to turn into a game but it seemed to fade away.

She is also Beaky sometimes. But we reprimand that verbally, negatively but not loudly and withdraw from her if it is too hard. I think a lot of times birds at bird stores learn bluff biting. They stand on stands and strangers come by and act dramatically when the bird goes for them. I don't blame the people. Big Macaws are scary looking. But when you live with one, it no longer looks like a gigantic bird. You still respect it obviously but you don't get bluffed. She bites us too hard a couple times a week, but just uncomfortably so, not painful and gets reprimanded. After reprimand she is super exaggerated gentle with her beak like "I know how to do this. Don't be grumpy" Two or three times over the years she's bitten painfully hard so it hurts after, but without drawing blood or making serious bruise. Those have been occasions, such as once when I was trying to grab her when she was strolling along a curtain rod breaking the rings.

She is good with everyone she lives with. She is stand offish with new people in the house but will warm up to them. We take her for walks outdoors secured with a leash and bird harness. (Probably less than once a month.) She hates the harness but likes to go out. She will step up on anyone we ask her too. And take a treat like a pistachio from them. People of course are thrilled beyond belief.

It is easy to go on and on about her, because she is a great girl. She has been much easier and more delightful than I expected. I was not in favor of getting a large bird, so maybe expecting the worst helped.

I also have to say that I feel like we have a responsibility to socialize her and make sure she has a good image of humanity, because we may not have her always. The ideal is a "forever home", but nobody has a forever home. A bird should be able to adapt and be happy in a new home. My wife and I are in our 50s. Our kids love her and would take her if possible and hopefully be in a position to after we are gone. But you just never know.

She loves to call the dogs to come and eat. I always imagine that somewhere in 50 years she'll still be calling "Zorro! Waggy!" to the puzzlement of future generations. She especially likes to call Zorro. She can't say Waggy very well.
 

Budgiebuds

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Our scarlet macaw rusty is super sweet and affectionate most of the time. He dosent scream too often but when he does it is soooo loud! He's also a plucker because before he came to us he had been in a cage pretty much his whole life so he does nip sometimes but he is sweet most of the time. He came wake hello and good bye too!
 

CareyinOhio

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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
Curious how things are going with Chaos, 6 years on? I"m considering a GW Macaw and would like to know if he/she ever grew out of this phase?
 

macawpower58

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Hi Carey, Chaos is now 19 years old.
No bites for me in the last several years, I think I did get one nip though.
Things have calmed down drastically! Thank goodness for that.
He though no longer allows snuggles. We're buddies and companions that live together and get along.
Lots of talking, singing and dancing. He'll sit beside me on the couch, but I don't pet or hug him. He's too dignified for that anymore.
Once in a while I can scritch under his wings when he's in the mood. He still loves dragging his 'blanket' around and taking it under my bed.
I no longer live in fear of him. I still have a high respect though, and don't push the limits. He lets me know what's OK and what's not.
 

CareyinOhio

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Hi Carey, Chaos is now 19 years old.
No bites for me in the last several years, I think I did get one nip though.
Things have calmed down drastically! Thank goodness for that.
He though no longer allows snuggles. We're buddies and companions that live together and get along.
Lots of talking, singing and dancing. He'll sit beside me on the couch, but I don't pet or hug him. He's too dignified for that anymore.
Once in a while I can scritch under his wings when he's in the mood. He still loves dragging his 'blanket' around and taking it under my bed.
I no longer live in fear of him. I still have a high respect though, and don't push the limits. He lets me know what's OK and what's not.
Thanks so much for the reply!! Glad to hear things have settled down :)
 

Miss Annamarie

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louie'smom

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Shelly Thompson Pitts
my 8week old scarlet baby Louie has already started the lunge and puff thing Lol. he is my first scarlet. I have a BG macaw and a African Grey and a kakariki. they are all interested in the new baby.
 

louie'smom

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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.
I got my BG Bayou when she was 3 as a re-home and we love her so much. I am the chosen one and she will pinch anyone else unless they are "saving her life" from the top of the cabinets or if I'm away. she loves to perform for anyone who will watch and is very cuddly with me. she is extremely interested in the new baby, a 8 week old scarlet boy named Louie. She coos at him and makes the sweetest sounds but wouldn't dare let her too close. she was hand raised with a female scarlet as her buddy. my African Grey I have had since 5 weeks (he is 2 now) wont even look at him but says "look at the baby. see the baby. give the baby a kiss. wanna kiss the baby" Lol jealous lol
 

Hankmacaw

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@louie'smom I wanted to tell you that Elvis died. She died from the same thing that Holiday's Zoe died from - pulmonary hypertensive syndrome. This disease was caused by the powder down from the African Grey that she had at the same time and Zoe died before she was three. Elvis died about 5 years later although the African Grey had been gone since Zoe died. Yes, both of their deaths were confirmed by Holiday's veterinarian. I sincerely hope that you are protecting your B&G from the powder down from your African Grey. Otherwise, you are playing Russian roulette with your macaw's life.

 

louie'smom

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@louie'smom I wanted to tell you that Elvis died. She died from the same thing that Holiday's Zoe died from - pulmonary hypertensive syndrome. This disease was caused by the powder down from the African Grey that she had at the same time and Zoe died before she was three. Elvis died about 5 years later although the African Grey had been gone since Zoe died. Yes, both of their deaths were confirmed by Holiday's veterinarian. I sincerely hope that you are protecting your B&G from the powder down from your African Grey. Otherwise, you are playing Russian roulette with your macaw's life.

oh wow!!! I had no idea of that!! what can I do?
 

Hankmacaw

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@louie'smom Lets take this off this sticky thread and start another thread under the forum "Healthy Highway".

I will be back in about an hour - have to take care of my Jasper (female GW)
 

jordanna

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I have a 46 year old wild-caught B&G. We are his fourth family and I adopted him in April of 2019 from a rescue. His name is Grocko.

The Good: He's very bonded to me. He loves to be where ever I am. He's a great talker and knows a lot of words and phrases. He loves to mock people. One of his favorite hobbies is to scare people by chasing them or acting like he's going to bite. Then he laughs out loud. He has a wicked sense of humor but he is so entertaining and such great company. He won't let me cuddle him but he is happy to get scritches any time. I have been working at home due to the pandemic and when I answer my phone he says "Hello" before I can. It's hilarious because people don't even know it because he says it in my voice.

The Bad: He's pretty demanding. When he wants my attention he'll start yelling "Come here!" and each time it gets louder. He also yells "Laura" over and over even though that's not my name. If I still don't go get him he'll through a fit and start screaming. I ignore him sometimes but he's very persistent. Lots of times I won't go to him until he is quiet but he still doesn't catch on. Ha ha! I think Laura made him pretty spoiled!

The Ugly: He can be so naughty about anyone coming near me. He will try to bite them and sometimes he bites me like he is trying to warn me away. Grocko is definitely a one person bird. He will only be nice to other people if I'm not home or when he wants a treat.
 

Meryl V

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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?
Hi I am new to forum, and I know this post is from 2013. Wondering if you are still on the forum and can you give me an update on Chaos? I have a Green Wing Macaw who is 21 years old, had 'him' Floyd from a baby. I just found out that Floyd is a girl. 'She' very hard to call Floyd this now, was exhibiting the same behavior as you are describing. She got a lump on her belly and that is how we found out Floyd was a girl. She had a hernia from all her nesting. She has had this repaired and was given Hormone implants to help with her nesting. They recommend this ever 8 months! 800 each implant! I have stopped giving her blankets or anything that will make her start to nest, but it has been a struggle. She walks everywhere now trying to find a nesting spot, I have had to put up a barricade to my parrot room so she cannot walk everywhere. Wondering if anyone else is experiencing this and any suggestions would be great!
 

macawpower58

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Yep, still here, still with Chaos.

I still really don't know what sex Chaos is. I veer back and forth wondering, but unless he lays, he'll stay a boy for me.
He had a few very intense, aggressively hormonal years.
Those thank goodness are pretty much over.
Still very hormonal, still dragging his little dish towels under the bed to mate/nurture?
Chaos is no longer a cuddly bird, not one bit.
He'll join me just to sit, but I rarely try and pet him.
He has a very specific 'space' and I respect it.

I let Chaos drag his towels whenever he's out.
He also masturbates in his cage on a regular basis.

I'm not sure if the towels are a female behavior or not.
Chaos is now 21.

If Floyd's nesting behavior is medically endangering her, then I pray the implants work.
Others may have some ideas of a less expensive idea. That is a huge bill every 8 months.
Since I see no medical issues with mine, I let him nest away when out.
I do make sure there's no nesty areas in his cage.

It's hard, if not impossible to best mother nature.
 

macawpower58

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Why not start a new thread about Floyd and her issues, so it's get seen.
This thread may not generate a lot of views.
 

Meryl V

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Thank you for the reply! Floyd was/is doing the exact be
Yep, still here, still with Chaos.

I still really don't know what sex Chaos is. I veer back and forth wondering, but unless he lays, he'll stay a boy for me.
He had a few very intense, aggressively hormonal years.
Those thank goodness are pretty much over.
Still very hormonal, still dragging his little dish towels under the bed to mate/nurture?
Chaos is no longer a cuddly bird, not one bit.
He'll join me just to sit, but I rarely try and pet him.
He has a very specific 'space' and I respect it.

I let Chaos drag his towels whenever he's out.
He also masturbates in his cage on a regular basis.

I'm not sure if the towels are a female behavior or not.
Chaos is now 21.

If Floyd's nesting behavior is medically endangering her, then I pray the implants work.
Others may have some ideas of a less expensive idea. That is a huge bill every 8 months.
Since I see no medical issues with mine, I let him nest away when out.
I do make sure there's no nesty areas in his cage.

It's hard, if not impossible to best mother nature.
ha
 

Meryl V

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Floyd's behavior was/is sounds exactly like Chaos. He had a favorite block that hung on his cage that rested on his back, kind of like a security blanket since he was a baby. He would never stay inside his cage always on the fold down grate. I started giving him a small towel as it seemed like it was hard on his feet. This is when the nesting really started. When I gave him a bath one day I saw a small bulge on his abdomen. Taking him to his regular vet, the first thing they said was 'usually' only females get hernias. We were sent to another facility that had Avian specialists. Did a CT scan and saw that there was a mass inside his abdomen that was most likely unmineralized eggs and this is what was pressing on his (now her for sure!) abdomen. They put Floyd on antibiotics for 6 weeks before surgery. Surgery went well (but they did let me know there was a very good chance Floyd wouldn't make it as the area is so close to their air sacs) But the option to not due surgery would also lead to his demise, so I took the chance. Floyd is doing well, but I had to take away everything that encouraged nesting, no towels, no strolls under the couch and in closets. Complete diet change (over a few months) to all pellets and more veggies ( I make a mash daily) Vet said this is the time when they usually exhibit this behaviour ( 21 years and onwards) In the wild they would be mating, but since they are captive birds they will continue to want to produce. I read SO much when they were young, but never read 'ahead' of what the later years would be like. I am not sure I will continue with the implants, but Floyds screaming has become a daily event in the afternoons that can be glass shattering. I have chose to give all my birds baths around 1pm and this seems to help a bit. My Blue and Gold who is 24 just laid her first egg this April! Floyd's surgery was in January, so yes it has been quite the eye opening year! My Blue and Gold (Stu) is also a girl!!! I just joined this group and your post was one of the first I read! Could not believe how alike our stories are as soon as I can figure out how to post pictures of Floyd and my brood I will. Thank you again for your reply! And glad Chaos is doing well.
 
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