Blue and Gold macaw (Ara ararauna)
Beakman is a Blue and Gold macaw. Macaws are neotropical birds that come from South America. In spite of her name, Beakman is a female. Female Blue and Golds look very much like males except that sometimes their chest color is lighter in color than a male's. A macaw's beak is black and strong enough to crush the shell of Brazil nuts (not to mention a finger!). Macaws also use their beaks like an extra foot. Beakman likes to hang by her beak from a branch and then swing back and forth while she flaps her wings as if to say, “Look Ma, no hands!”
Blue and Gold macaws generally mate for life. Although Beakman and our male macaw, Tico, are the same species, they are not romantically involved. Beakman prefers human company and Tico loves a Catalina macaw.
Captive-raised Blue and Gold macaws are usually hand-raised which means that instead of their parents rearing them, humans do. This is one way for birds to lose their fear of people and to become pets. Hand-raised birds depend on humans to be their families and they sometimes look upon them as love objects. This means that they can bond with a single person and not allow others to handle them. They require a lot of attention. Like all birds, they need direct (not filtered by glass or plastic) sunlight in order to be healthy. The best situation for a pet macaw is one where an outside aviary is available for the bird to be active and to get fresh air and sunlight. If this is not possible, the macaw should be given many hours of outside cage time and special lighting that mimics natural sunlight. If positive attention, affection, exercise, appropriate boundary setting, healthy food * non-toxic wood to chew on and annual vet care are provided, macaws can be wonderful, long-lived companions.
Pet birds often have multiple homes during their lifetimes. There is disagreement about whether or not the birds suffer as a result of having to readjust multiple times to a new family. Some people feel that the birds do fine; others feel that it is an emotional hardship. We at Pandemonium Aviaries believe that the quality of the home is what matters most. Our macaws come with what we call ‘the voices of owners past.” We hear them call out in different voices which sound like people they once knew. It appears to us that they remember past homes. The best way to ease the transition to living here is for us to do our best to make them feel cared for, respected and loved.
Blue and Gold macaws are popular as pets partly because of their striking appearances and talking abilities. However, their large size makes accommodations problematic, and they require much more effort and knowledge from owners than more traditional pets such as dogs or cats. They are intelligent and social, so for someone who can provide for their needs, they make good and loving companion parrots.
Even the most well-tended Blue and Gold macaw will "scream" and make other loud noises. In addition, destructive chewing is a natural part of macaw behavior and should be expected. We urge anyone considering whether or not to acquire a macaw to research the needs of the species. Macaws are long lived and therefore part of the planning is to be able to provide for the bird for many decades.
*A seed only diet will lead to health problems such as vitamin deficiency. An example of a good diet would be a quality pellet in conjunction with a mix featuring seed, nuts, dried fruits, and fresh vegetables (greens and roots) and fruits fed regularly. It is quite common (and appreciated by the parrot) to share meals with their human owners if safe foods like whole wheat pasta, etc are on the menu. Foods with high fat content and with “empty” calories such as white bread and sugar are not good for birds. Avocados, rhubarb leaves and chocolate are toxic for birds and should not be given under any circumstance.