People often ask me what it’s like to have a Blue & Gold Macaw as a pet. I usually tell them it’s like having a 2 year old child who has their own megaphone and wood chipper. If you’re considering getting one as a pet here are some things to consider.
First, they are very loud, I mean eardrum splitting loud. You can expect one to cut loose at least once a day with some raucous screaming. You couldn’t have this bird in an apartment unless you had very thick walls and very understanding neighbors. If they’re hungry, need water, or just want attention from you they’ll let you know about it very loudly and clearly. You can’t train them not to do this, it’s just part of being a macaw. In the wild they can use screams to communicate over miles of jungle and ‘indoor’ voice is not in their vocabulary.
Next, they’re very smart. They pick up on things very quickly. Since macaws are prey animals in the wild this is also part of their heritage. Since they’re smart they can usually figure out when you’re trying to trick them into a wing clipping or other disliked procedure and will give you trouble. They’re also smart enough to figure out how to get your attention and will test you from time to time.
Chewing on wood is also a natural thing. In the rain forest, part of a macaw’s job is to move the top third of the trees down to the bottom third. They’ll do this in your house if you’re not careful so you’ll need to ‘bird proof’ as much as possible. However, even if you do, something will get chewed eventually. They will also need toys that they can chew to shreds. These toys usually cost between $10-30 and, if they really like it, they can totally destroy one in a few hours. You can save a lot of money by learning to build and recycle toys for them.
Another question I get is “Does he talk?”. Well, sort of. Macaws are usually enthusiastic speakers but don’t really pronounce things well. They aren’t gifted mimics like the African Gray or Amazon Parrots. Ours has about a dozen basic words he says like “Hi!”, “Bye!”, “Waha!” (water), “YUM!” (food), “Ower” (shower), “Good Bird!’”, “Bad Bird!”. Notice I put an exclamation point after each word. Anything he says gets one by default. He also can laugh and chuckle and he’ll do this when he’s feeling playful, such as when he’s avoiding being put back in his cage.
As I mentioned, he loves a shower. After all, they don’t call it a rain forest for nothing. He loves to sit on his shower stand and prance and preen in the shower. He prefers lukewarm water being lightly sprayed in a position where he can easily move in and out of the stream.
That’s all for this article. I’ll probably be posting more about Abe the Macaw in the future. Feel free to ask me any questions about him in a comment.