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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Mini Macaws

Saemma

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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.

Another thread for TMS's idea..

My experience is limited to Severe Macaws or just one severe macaw. Of course, what's good and what's bad is subjective. We all have our personal opinions and that's ok.

I will share with you MY Good, Bad and Ugly about My Severe Macaw and look forward to reading about everyone else's G B & U when it comes to mini macaws. :)

Let's start with the Bad and Ugly. :D Mabel is extremely extremely Destructive. She has a Powerful beak and loves to use it as much as possible. It does not take her very long to render an object useless. She has destroyed MANY expensive and inexpensive things around here and I can not leave her unsupervised for more than a few seconds otherwise I better be prepared for some damage. Not her fault at all. That's the way she's wired. About her beak, she uses it to exploresany object that she can fly to or get her beak on... EVERYTHING. This also includes my hands and any part that she has access too. I know many have described this as being nippy. When she's on me she also makes holes in my shirts, removes buttons and destroys zippers. With this beak also comes VERY painful bites and DEEP CUTS. Does not take much effort from her to do SERIOUS damage. These days I rarely get bitten by Mabel but that's also because I've become pretty skilled at reading her body language and we've built a good trust account between the two of us. Last of the bad would be the volume of her call. Truth be told, Mabel is very very quiet for a parrot, however she has the capability of EXTREMELY loud volume. When I first brought her home I remember keeping her in a separate room during quarantine time and when she used to sound off with the door closed I used to wonder if she would make the doors fall off their hinges with her volume and Even Sachi and Emma used to fall off their perches.:eek: Last of all, Mabel is gregarious and demanding. She loves to be on me and with me or close by. She likes to be in physical contact as much as possible and tends to hog my physical attention. It is not uncommon to see me doing different things around my home with Mabel hanging off of me. She's my little gem so I don't fight it anymore..:lol:


The GOOD. Mabel is so physically expressive through her eyes and her body language. Her eyes used to frighten me. Today I realize it was because I was afraid and overwhelmed at seeing all that emotion behind them. Severe macaw body language is very easy to read once you've learned the basics of macaw body language. It is thanks to Holiday that I became a good student at understanding my Mabel. http://forums.avianavenue.com/macaw-motorway/75567-training-your-macaw-moved-blog-section.html

Mabel is loving, calm, endearing and likes nothing more than being with me. She loves to destroy lots of wood so that's a big perk for me too because my other parrots do very minimal toy destroying.:D She loves to eat anything that I offer her and is so good about showing her appreciation. I can flip her on her back, lift up her wings, file her nails, give her a shower and do just about anything I choose to do with her. In the first months that she arrived here, whenever I offered her anything she'd look up at me with her beautiful eyes as if to ask * Is this for me?*. The first part of her life was not the best, I don't think she'll forget about those days for a long time to come. I think one of the reasons why I love her so much is that she's a role model when it comes to appreciation. She does everything full throttle and things are very black and white with her. She plays hard, loves hard and of all my 4 parrots she makes me feel the most appreciated. Often it seems that I can do no wrong in her eyes. For all the bad and ugly, the Good most definitely makes up for it.:heart: Here's my blog inspired by Mabel.. http://mabelserendipity.blogspot.ca/
 
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Holiday

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Each one of my minis is very much an individual, but I will try to contribute what I think are common characteristics that they share, by species and family. All of my birds are adults, so I can comment on adult behavior in each.

Illiger's Macaw: I have three of these, two males and a female. While they all have different personalities, they share common behaviors. All three have moderately loud voices, but my largest one is noticeably the loudest, and her call almost rivals my Red Front. They call most in the mornings and evenings. None of them are what anyone could call "cuddly" birds, but all of them greatly enjoy verbal communication and attention.

The Good: They have decent talking ability for a mini-macaw. All three of mine can talk, although not terribly clearly. The female is the most hands-on, and will accept beak rubs and the occasional scritch, but even she is independent and a little rough sometimes.

They're pretty birds, the most colorful of the mini-macaws, and they can be a joy to look at and photograph.

The Bad: All three have a great need to chew, far beyond what you'd expect for their size. And their beaks are surprisingly powerful, capable of inflicting a painful nip, bruise, or bite. They're a very beaky species and prone to territoriality and a fair amount of guard-lunging. It takes a little practice to get used to this, but it becomes very manageable with experience. I buy two of them medium macaw-sized toys, and they can destroy them, given enough time. Two of my three are mechanical and greatly enjoy undoing quick links (and thus subjecting their toys to the force of gravity) and nuts and bolts such as those that hold their cages together or fasten their doors shut. They're not aggressive by nature, but they do not take incursions into their space as lightly as some species (even other macaw species), and this should be noted well by anyone hoping to own one successfully and enjoyably into adulthood.

The Ugly: Due to their activity level, cleverness/proneness to boredom, and tendency toward territoriality, they need a much larger cage than you'd expect for a bird their size. Like other minis, they may pluck if too closely confined.

Hahn's Macaw: Smaller and more forgiving than the Illiger's, generally speaking, these charming little guys do have some of the same drawbacks as their larger cousins.

The Good: They're adorable and can be funny little clowns. Both of mine talk, and while their voices are not always clear, they can be quite clever and chatty :)

The Bad: Nippiness and territoriality are strong tendencies. They have a razor-sharp point on their beaks, which can make even a poorly aimed kiss painful, much less a nip. And, as adults, they do nip :cool:

In my experience, mini-macaws as a family do appear to enjoy the presence of other parrots as a general rule (some individuals will vary), but Hahn's can pine for the company of their own kind like no other species I've seen. While more affectionate or hands-on in general than the Illiger's, IME, Hahn's vary greatly by individual in terms of whether or not they'll maintain their baby enjoyment of petting into adulthood.

They very much like to play the sentry, and will warn the whole household loudly if they perceive "danger" like a large leaf blowing outside their window. :D They're not as loud as the Illiger's, but they will vocalize more.

The Ugly: Like the Illiger's, they need space and significant amounts of time out of their cages. The tendency to pluck if too closely confined is even more pronounced.

All of my minis are chatty, charming, and love to interact with me, but none of them have the extreme tactile tendency of my large macaws. I would never recommend them to someone for whom a lot of petting is very important. They may be cuddly as babies, but IME, this will change somewhat as they grow independent with maturity, varying somewhat by individual.
 

Saemma

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Loved your post Holiday. :)
 

Maxsmom

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Thanks for the detailed posts. Very informative.
 

seamonkeychar

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I have a Noble (so a Hahn's), and I agree with most of what Holiday said. Scout is 3 years old, so still a teenager. He is nippy, but not overly aggressive. He isn't going to fly at anyone, but if someone is standing to close to his cage, he will climb over to give them a nip. He wants to be with me, and enjoys hanging out while I cook breakfast or fold laundry, but isn't necessarily cuddly. That would involve sitting still for too long, lol. He will let me scritch his head, but I'm running a risk when I do, because you never know when he'll decide we're done, and try to bite. He will let me pet or touch everywhere on his body, but will let me know when he's done (and I had better move my hand fast then). He is very bold, and not afraid of much. And when he is afraid, his first reaction is to fight. He isn't out for blood, but he does enjoy being a bully. His breeder affectionately called him "Brat", and I can totally see why. He thinks that the world revolves around him. He is a great sentry, and will scream a certain alarm call when someone pulls into the driveway, or when he sees a family member's car coming down the road. My dogs have even learned it, and will bark when they hear that call from Scout (but not when he's just screaming because he can). He is a one person bird, and will allow a few other people to pick him up, and maybe scritch him, but that is where it ends. Anything else and they are going to lose blood. Overall, I love him, and he is a great bird for our family.

TL;DR
Good: Bold, inquisitive, wants to be with his person (but only that person). Not at all fearful, ready for new situations. Good talker, very expressive.
Bad: Destructive!! If you value an object, don't leave it anywhere near a Hahn's unsupervised.
Ugly: Screaming. Scout has a very obnoxious scream that he will unleash whenever he feels wronged (I'm eating something and didn't share, or I took Ben somewhere and didn't take Scout)
 

Saemma

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Thanks Charlene.:)
 

Maxsmom

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Do any macaw owners work full time out of the house? My vet generally discourages having a larger bird if one isnt home 8-10 hours a day so I have not really considered a larger bird. Sorry for posting a different question on this thread. Not saying my vet is correct at all.
 

itzmered

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My experiences are the same as Holiday's with the Hahns macaws. Can be very nippy and it hurts because of the sharp pointy beak. Also very playful, likes to play hard and loves to chew, chew, chew! Love their cute little voices and they are very smart little buggers :)
 

Holiday

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Do any macaw owners work full time out of the house? My vet generally discourages having a larger bird if one isnt home 8-10 hours a day so I have not really considered a larger bird. Sorry for posting a different question on this thread. Not saying my vet is correct at all.

Well, I agree with the principle your vet is suggesting, because macaws (especially large macaws) do thrive with a strong bond with their owner and a lot of attention, but I'm not sure about the number of hours she's suggesting. It would be ideal, but IMO not necessary. I spend long hours away from mine three days out of 7, and they do just fine. My minis can live without me better than my large ones can, partly because my minis all have the company of their own species.
 

Saemma

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I work out of home and I am very grateful that Mabel has the rest of her flock here for company, otherwise I think she'd have alot of trouble handling solitude. Of all 4 parrots, I imagine that she'd be the one who would probably resort to feather destruction or non stop screaming. I guess that makes sense because she's never experienced being alone in her entire life.
 
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Mizzely

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Here is mine based on Gizmo, an 11 year old Hahn's Macaw:

The Good

She is so intelligent; it amazes me all the time. Somehow she knows what I want her to do, even if I've never asked her to do it before! She is fairly quiet, in that she only sounds off a few times a day for short bursts. She is very tactile, craving touch and wanting to test everything delicately with her beak. She is very affectionate and loves to cuddle under my chin, in my hair, and give kisses. I personally feel that foraging toys are an absolute must for these birds as they are so intelligent and so do enjoy destruction! A favorite here are the Parrot Enrichment blocks.

The Bad

Gizmo had a rough start to life, being confined to a small cage with no real toys, and perches that made her arthritic. This has given her some OCD-like tendencies when she gets nervous or bored. They do have a crazy need to chew...wood toys are a big hit, and Giz needs something available at all times, or she will start to chew the couch, clothes, or door frames!

Yes, nips HURT. They are territorial and in my home, I cannot keep allow my Quaker and Green Cheek to be out in the same room with her; she will attack them if they get too close to me. These birds have larger beaks in relation to their size than other birds of similar length and weight, so please note that even an innocent "back off!" can cause damage to a smaller bird. Mine is definitely a "one person" bird. She is also very picky about food, but we have worked on that a lot!

The Ugly

Gizmo is so attached to me that I worry about her. She does need a lot of out time or she gets stir crazy, much more than my other birds. I honestly believe that another Hahn's is in my future - more out of necessity than anything else! I do not think, based on other people's knowledge and my own experiences, that these birds do well if they are going to be by themselves for long hours; they need companionship of some sort, a favorite person or another bird, more so than other species I've kept.

While mine does not sound off often, when she does, it is definitely loud. Below is her "Come back!" call. Her alarm call trumps this easily, and she will use it if anything is "off" - even if it's something I didn't notice or can't see.


Here are some of the "nicer" sounds, and some of her "OCD" actions

 
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Saemma

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bump for Kristen! (Memo's mommy.) :D
 

Elise

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this is such a great post! so glad i got all of the info on here as i was wanting a severe macaw but honestly, i just dont think any kind of macaw will be for me. too loud and that beak and nipiness would break me down. i'll just stick to my greys and eclectus and enjoy sitting back and watching all of the beautiful macaws people have around me. :):dancing:
 

Saemma

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this is such a great post! so glad i got all of the info on here as i was wanting a severe macaw but honestly, i just dont think any kind of macaw will be for me. too loud and that beak and nipiness would break me down. i'll just stick to my greys and eclectus and enjoy sitting back and watching all of the beautiful macaws people have around me. :):dancing:
Same here, Elise. I was considering a Hahn's someday, but not anymore - too loud, too much blood!! My Pionus and Moustache will have to suffice. :)
Glad this section was helpful to you both.
 

txwaterlily

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Thanks to all of you who posted about their experience with Mini's. I read every single one of them. My question...does anyone have anything to say about Yellow collared macaws?? I am thinking about getting one..just doing some research before I make a decision.
Thank you all
 

Holiday

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Thanks to all of you who posted about their experience with Mini's. I read every single one of them. My question...does anyone have anything to say about Yellow collared macaws?? I am thinking about getting one..just doing some research before I make a decision.
Thank you all

While Yellow-collars are a different species, they are in the same genus as the Illiger's (Primolius). And, in birds, the differences between species in a genus (especially in the multitude of closely related South American species) can be fairly minimal (like beak color or wingtip length or the like). So, cousins in the same genus tend to be very similar. Therefore, I think you can heed not only what people have to say about YCMs (and we do have a couple of members who own one), but also what people say about Illiger's. They're really not much different; they hybridize easily. I know someone who has an Illie/YCM hybrid, as a matter of fact :) Cute little green fella. Obviously, of course, each individual bird will be a little different from another, but overall, you're not going to see any earthshattering differences between those two species. I wouldn't exactly be off my game if I were to take in a YCM ;)
 
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