“ Animal Species: Birds „
I havent had a macaw as a pet before, however I do have a Galah, and also I worked at a Safari Park for a couple of years, looking after the macaws there. They are a stunning bird, but take ALOT of care! And by care, birds need alot of company, strict routine and general patience and love. These birds, in the wild naturaly break twigs of trees and small branches, they crush walnuts and other large/hard nut shells with their powerful beak, so therefore it you do have one in your home, be aware that when you do let it out of its cage it will chew wood around the home as this is what comes naturaly. They are very bright birds and do train quite easily and will return to you when called, although I wouldnt reccommend letting your parrot free fly out side if you are in a busy area or surrounded by alot of trees, as crows/magpies will mob the bird and kill it!! Large aviary is the best bet. Be aware if you go away that you must have someone who likes parrots and most impotantly who the parrot likes to look after them as they do pluck their feathers if they are unhappy and can make themsleves very ill. On the positive side they do learn to talk, are great company and we would be lost without ours!
In a couple of other reviews you may have noticed me mention Crackers- my mad Macaw who is as thick as two short planks yet scarily intelligent at the same time. I thought today would be a good time to do a review on him- as he is in the vets with me (working on a Sunday evening, pfff) after fracturing his wing last night by flying into the patio door- told you he was thick. Anyway, my boy Crackers..
*Purchasing a Macaw*
Before purchasing your Macaw, there is an awful lot of things to take into consideration. They are large, noisy, messy (and often destructive) birds which require a lot of time, effort and expense to keep- they also need a carefully balanced diet, are prone to serious health problems and need a very large area in which to live. However if you can put up with the noise and mess and are willing to put in the effort- then Macaws can make excellent pets, full of character and life! Macaws are a pet for life- living between 30 and 65 years (the larger the Macaw the longer they tend to live), so ensure you are majorly commited.
Once you have decieded you would like a Macaw, the hard part is actually trying to find one, which can be a bit of a mission in itself! Some of the larger pet shops (ie Pets At Home) sell them and this can be a good place to start as you can be pretty sure they have came from a well managed and legal stock, but beware of getting one from an advert in the local newspaper unless the owner can show you the relevant paperwork ect, as far too many birds are being illegally captured from the wild and being sold on. However the best thing to do, is to do your homework and contact a breeder with years of experience with Macaws, then you really can be sure you are getting a healthy and legal bird, this could take some time though as Macaw breeders are very few and far between.
They are very expensive to buy- the common Gold & Blues generally start from around £750 but the Scarlets normally cost more- Crackers (a Scarlet) cost me £1,000 when I got him nine years ago and prices have probably gone up since.
Macaws are the classic image most people get in their head when they think of a parrot. Large, brightly coloured birds with black & white faces and a big black beak- the pirates parrot! The most common species kept as pets are:
-Blue & Golds: Also known as Blue & Yellows, they are around 75-85cm long and weigh between 2-3lbs, they are mainly blue with yellow/gold feathers on the chest, wings and 'tail' and sometimes with green colouring to the head.
-Scarlets: In my opinion (although maybe slightly biased as Crack is a Scarlet) these are the prettiest of the Macaw species, mostly red feathers with blues, greens and yellows too and white face. They are slightly larger weighing in around 4lbs and measuring 80-96cm in lenght.
-Green Winged Macaw: Or a red & green Macaw. These are often mistaken for the Scarlets because of their similar colourings, however the Green Winged (as the name suggests) has more green feathers to their wings and are also larger- capable of reaching lenghts over 100cm, and weighing more than 5lbs.
The Macaw is extremely loyal and affectionate to its owner, but doesn't take kindly to strangers- in Crackers case, choosing to sqwark the house down should anyone he doesn't know dares to approach him (does have a plus side though- excellent burglar alarm). With alot of patience they can be taught to talk, although you may start wishing you never taught them to, because once they know how- they don't shut up. Although I do take the mickey out of my Crackers for being a bit dim- he is actually very intelligent when he wants to be and knows a whole host of words. Watching a few too many episodes of the show Friends with him around means he now will sing the themetune and copy Joey's 'How you doin' catchphrase- a great party trick I must admit, but gets embarrasing when he decides to, erm.. flirt with visitors. They are as bad as kids in the sense that you have to be careful with what you say around them, a little while ago we went through a phase of him calling everyone who came into my house an 'Old Bag' after he listened to me moaning about a neighbour...oops.
They can be destructive, and many owners will tell you stories about their Macaws ripping the wallpaper off the walls and chewing the curtains ect. I've been very lucky with Crackers as he has never been like this, he is also very quiet for a Macaw (well as quiet as a Macaw could possibly be). He does have a few 'issues' in the sense that he thinks he is a dog, but we'll get there one day. Well with a name like Crackers and an owner like me, you could never expect the poor bird to be 'normal'.
If there is one thing I cannot abide, it is seeing Macaws in cages. For this reason, Crackers isn't caged- he has a parrot stand which he is trained to return to for food, sleep ect and will stay put there when told to but otherwise has the run of the downstairs (well when I'm there anyway- kitchen when I'm not). As previously mentioned- he does think he is a dog, so will go outside to the toilet and doesn't mess around the house- I don't have the heart to break it to him that he is infact a bird. Obviously not everyone will share my views of Macaws in cages, and the majority of them are kept in them- they should be at least the lenght of your bird- then add another 10cms, and with room for your bird to stretch his wings out fully. Cages don't come cheap (at around £700) and the parrot stands are even more (mine was £1,500 but its more of a 'parrot activity centre' than just a stand), they should last the entire life span of your pet though so are a good investment.
A carefully controlled diet is essential for your Macaw- specially prepared parrot mix from pet shops should make up around 40% of your Macaws diet, with the remaining 60% being fresh fruit, vegetables, boiled rice, peanuts, sunflower seeds, egg, pasta and small pieces of cooked chicken or turkey- they love chewing the bones too. The parrot mix should be available throughout the day and then hand feed them two meals a day, giving them only as much as they will eat whilst you hand feed them it. If you feed a correct balanced diet to your Macaw there is no need for added vitamin supplements although some owners do feed just parrot mix, so obviously vitamins will need to be added then. As with all animals, a bowl of fresh water should be available at all times.
Sadly due to overbreeding and irresponsible owners who prehaps don't feed a correct diet to begin with, some Macaws eventually loose the abilty to eat normal parrot mix, fruit ect when their crop, a part of their digestive system stops working- this can sometimes be treated with muscle relaxing injections from vets but sadly it isn't normally effective and the birds days are numbered- the only possible solutions are feeding your Macaw baby food for the short time they may have left or sadly putting them to sleep. In just seven years of veternairy nursing I have already seen twelve Macaws with this problem- its so sad as it can easily be prevented.
Macaws come from the moist, damp conditions of the tropical rainforest. They need the moisture to keep their feather cleans and produce their natural oils- you can 'recreate' the rainforest atmosphere by filling a spray bottle with water and spraying down your Macaw everyday- they will love it, aswell as keeping their feathers clean. Crack always knows when its 'shower time' and does his very cute little dance as the water sprays over him.
To keep your birds beak short and sharp, they need items to chew. Either a cuttlefish or chicken thigh bones do this job very well. Crackers obsession with chicken bones stems from believing he is dog, and often carries them around in his beak with him.
Sadly, too many captive Macaws suffer with stress and bordem which causes them to pluck out their own feathers, again this is a problem I have luckily managed to avoid with Crackers as he isn't caged. Providing your bird with lots of toys to keep him mentally active can help prevent this, and allowing him time out his cage every day.
It is important to have your Macaws wings clipped- this means they can only fly very short distances and get no height, therefore they cannot fly away. It doesn't hurt your bird in the slightest, and means they can go out in the garden ect with you. Macaws generally have their wings done before being sold.
As I said before, I don't keep Crackers in a cage so he has plenty of freedom to exercise and move about but Macaws kept in cages need at least 90 minutes out of their cage a day to stretch their wings and fly short distances- clipped wings will prevent them flying off. Crackers loves to come outside, and when I'm up at 5am everyday (oh the joys of keeping as many animals as I do), he is waiting by the back door ready to come out with me and sit on the fence whilst I muck out the stables, often singing his head off the entire time. Thankfully my only neighbour is as deaf as a doorpost.
The Macaw isn't an ideal first time pet, or for someone who hasn't even kept a budgie ect before, they need alot of time and attention, aswell as being very expensive to intially buy and then feed, if however you are dedicated to putting in that time and effort then the results are priceless- I couldn't imagine life without Crack, there isn't a day go by the nut case doesn't make me laugh. They are very strong beaked and winged birds, which can inflict considerable damage making them unsuitable pets for children or people not totally confident with handling animals, they can be and often are very destructive and often decide to sqwark you a little song at 3am- put up with all that and you have a friend for life.
Pictured on my members profile as you clicked on to my review you will have seen a photo of my beautiful blue and gold McCaw Gizmo.
This is mine and gizmos story from begining to end.
My husband began working in a pet shop close to our home in november of 2004, gizmo was already a pet on display in the pet shop being sold for £1599.00 with his cage.
As you can imagine at a price like that these things dont sell like hamsters do so after a very long time, possibly most of his life living in a pet shop my husband noticed that gizmo didnt seem to be pooing any more and then began being sick.
Immediatley he telephoned the owner of the shop who my husband worked for and although the owner of the shop does nothing but sit on his backside at home all day wholst people like my husband work there butt off all week to make a pittence of a wage wholst he rakes in mass profit he said he was too buisy to be bothered today.
Me and my husband closed the shop early and took gizmo to the vets, to be told that his crop had stopped working. They could give him an injection to loosen the muscle in the crop but it would not fix the problem, gizmos days were numbered.
To my knowledge the crop is the part of the birds digestive system that mulshes the seed up to allow the bird to digest it.
He had the injection and we took him back to the shop, telephoned the owner of the shop to tell him what the vet had said and explained that gizmo would need to be fed on baby bird milk and pureed fruit from now on and his answer to this utterly disgusted me.
The manager told my husband that he wasnt going to pay to keep a bird alive that he couldnt sell so told my husband to put him in the freezer to kill him.
How dare he i thought, this is a living creature he cant just kill it because it is inconvenient to him, so i took gizmo home.
The shop owner did get some of his money back, he charged me £600 for the cage which i suppose is reasonable seen as it is the going rate for a cage of this size.
For the last 7 months i have fed gizmo on jars of baby food, the pureed fruits and porridge as well as baby parot mix.
To begin with i started to feed this using a syringe as gizmo wasnt used to being touched so bit quite a lot and boy did that hurt.
With in a few weeks gizomo got used to me and began walking around my chair which was right by his cage and also chewed all the material on the back of my chair, very distructive is my gizmo
After that i began to feed him from a spoon every 4 hours through the day and leaving a 6 hour gap at night, i intended for this to be from 12 till 6 so i could get some sleep but gizmo had other ideas. he would go to sleep at around 10 pm and start yelling for food at 4 am, so i have had 7 months of 4am starts to my day.
Gizmo then began to follow me around the house but wasnt very good with the stairs so started to get on my arm to go up stairs, this progressed to coming to sit on my lap and going to sleep when he was tired, i loved this, selfish of me realy but he only ever did this with me, he would let other people touch him but not cuddle him like i could. he was my baby.
We brought gizm a parot cong toy which used to be his favorite, he would through it all around my living room.
Gizmo learnt to talk, he used to say yummy if he saw food, me if he wanted something, if you asked him who was a pritty boy he would say gizmo is, if you told him off for doing something naughty he would put his head down and waddle off then turn around and laugh at you.
Sunday morning i got up as usuall to gizmo yeling at 4.15am and gave him his breakfast but at 9 am he wouldnt take his next feed which was unusual, then a little later he brought back part of his 4 oclock feed so we took him to the vets only to be told there was nothing else they could do for him it was only a matter of time.
I didnt realy think that time would be so short, At about 7. 20 this morning gizmo passed away wolst lying in my arms,
sorry if this review is a bit rambled and it was possibly a bit too soon for me to right this but please make sure the parrot you buy is healthy as it has broken my heart to loose gizmo today, he was one of the family, my baby boy.
No, I'm not talking about some supermodel, I am of course talking about macaws, the brightly coloured birds that sit on sailors shoulders in pirate movies. Here is my rough guide to choosing a macaw, and I warn you it is quite long, so go and make that cup of tea now.  Selection: Choosing you first macaw will be your biggest challenge, and with so many of these beautifully colored birds vying for your attention it can be difficult to decide. Talking with owners of other macaws might help, but don't be surprised if they adore the species they have chosen. Each person is likely to try to convince you of his or her own macaws merits. Your final decision should be based on your lifestyle and living conditions, the bird's health, and its availability. I can't help you with which macaw to choose, as they all vary so much, but talk to your pet shop owner, hopefully he will be able to help you better than I can, helping people pick pets over the internet is a bit hit and miss, your pet shop owner would be a better bet ....  A little background knowledge goes a long way: Provided they are given a healthy diet, allowed freedom from their cage and given lots of attention macaws will be life long companions. These birds grow to be very old, and it is because of this longevity that deciding on a pet macaw should not be taken lightly. This is not the time for impulse buying that you might regret later, as they are for life. I know a few people who take their macaws to work; I am not joking. This arrangement has bonded them and the bird strongly together. Others have built literally huge, lush environments where their birds live happily in luxury. While a number of macaw species are now commonly bred in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, certain species remain difficult to breed and their populations remain low in the wild as a result of this. The wild populations of Buffon's, Hyacinth and Blu
e-throated Macaws have severely declined in recent years and in my opinion they are still too rare to be used as pets. I would, however, encourage serious breeders to work with these species.  Health: This is the single most important consideration when purchasing your macaw. Anyone selling a macaw should be willing to have their bird checked by an avian veterinarian before you take it home. The vet should do extensive test, and it will take about two days for the results of these tests to be determined. A signed vets certificate should accompany the bird. If all the tests and the exam reveal no apparent disease you can feel fairly confident about your purchase. As a precaution all new birds should still be quarantined from any otherbirds you might own for a minimum of forty five days.  Age: The age is less important than the health and temperament of the bird. Buying a young bird does not guarantee tameness and buying an older macaw does not mean the bird will not make a good pet. Macaws are individuals, and macaws will continue to grow until they are about a year and a half old, baby macaws have dark eyes which lighten as they age, except for Buffon's and Hyacinths macaws whos eyes will remain dark when they are mature.  Male or Female: The gender is not important for pet purposes, and the only reason to desire a certain sex would be to breed or prevent breeding. Some pet owners may desire to get birds that are the same sex as the birds they already have to avoid breeding. From a temperament standpoint I see few differences, there are introverts and extroverts in both sexes just like humans. The males are not always larger than the females, as this varies more due to their genetic background and the species. Talking ability does not seem to be sex related.  Availability Birds do not breed like dogs and cats. The clutch size of a macaw varies from two to four eggs with one to t
hree fertile on average. A particular pair might raise a second clutch one year or skip a year entirely. Once you decide what species you want it may be necessary to get on a waiting list to insure you will get the species you want.  Unweaned Birds: There is a common practice of selling unweaned birds, the reason for this is the breeder will sell the bird for less as they do not have to complete the weaning process. Weaning is a very stressful event, for both the macaw and its' new owner, however, in an accomplished breeders hands this is achieved with minimal stress. The birds are not ready for a change in environments when they are being hand fed and you should try to avoid moving them. The extra cost in buying a weaned bird is worth it, because if the birds have been properly socialized by raising them in a nurturing environment with other birds and people, they will be well adjusted to their surroundings. Many unweaned birds die horrible deaths with well meaning new owners. As a result, burned crops, infections and stunted birds are commonly seen by avian veterinarians.  Locating a Macaw: There are primarily three ways to acquire a bird; a pet shop, pet owner or directly from the breeder. In addition, your veterinarian might be helpful in providing information on available birds. I suggest buying from a pet shop as recently more pet shops have started to become more specialized in birds. They might offer several advantages to the interested buyer. For instance, the bird, cages and feed would be available in a one-stop location requiring a minimum of driving around and pet stores potentially can offer a variety of species for you to choose from. The disadvantage is that they might not have several birds of the same species for you to see, they might not be able to provide information on the former owner and might not have knowledgeable personnel to answer your questions.  The birds history: The mo
re information you can find out about the bird's lifestyle before you get them the better. How were they housed, inside or outside ? What temperature range were they used to ? What was their diet? Knowing their favorite foods might make their adjustment to your home less stressful. Are they able to fly ? This will have an affect on how you position the perches. Learn as much about their feather condition, personality and previous medical history as possible. What does the purchase price include ? Will the owner have an avian veterinarian check the bird ? What will that include ? Suggested protocol would be a complete physical exam, blood work, cultures of the vent and throat, and a chlamydia screen. Different species might require different tests be done. Who will pay for that exam ? Will the owner include written information about the bird ? What is the return policy ? These things all need to be discussed prior to your purchase.  The cost of the bird: Finally the biggest consideration of all, cost, and just like with other commodities the cost is based on rarity. If the bird is uncommon in captivity or in the wild, you can expect to pay a higher price. If the bird is bred frequently in captivity, the cost will normally reflect this. If the seller has done all the veterinarian checks, sex determination and weaning you can expect to pay more. This is beneficial to the buyer who otherwise would have to do it himself, and as many people have found out a higher cost does not guarantee a healthy bird. Anyway, I hop that helps anybody who has considered buying a macaw, and made people realise a bit more, that buying a pet is a tricky business that should not be jumped into for fear of diappointment. Macaws however are beautiful birds, and good companions. Good Luck !