Monday Dec. 6th 2010
This is Rose my female Greenwinged Macaw enjoying a chunk of pear. Macaws will Squeeze the fruit as they tip their head back to drink the juices. Remember to always wash your produce before eating or feeding as everything has bacteria and pesticide residues. Pears are a great source of vitamin C and potassium. Macaws love most fruits. Fresh fruits should be a frequent part of their diet. (Dried cubes in parrot mix don't count) :)
This is my Blue and Gold macaw Ruffles. She is a rescue and came to me severely plucked. In her prior home she was caged with a "mate" who was doing most of the plucking. Fortunately she has grown back all her feathers except on the top of her head and nape. Once feathers are plucked enough times the feather follicles become damaged and feathers cease to grow back. Why do parrots pluck their feathers? Medical problems aside parrots pluck because of stress. Wild parrots don't pluck their feathers so it is not normal. We place stress on our birds by making them conform to a captive environment. People may say they need more toys, or things to chew and shred.... yes they do need these things.... but even more they need to be out of their cage, preferably all day, and placed inside only for brief periods of time or for sleeping. They need to be able to roam around on tree stands and rope nets that can be arranged to connect to each other allowing your bird to move higher or lower, horizontally to the left or to the right. This gives them freedom to make their own choices based on how they feel or what's going on around them. We must learn to accomodate our birds better and ourselves less. Here in this picture Ruffles is chewing on a wood stub. Chewing and gnawing helps keep her beak groomed and like in dogs chewing releases indorphines giving them pleasure and a feeling of well being.
Everyone has heard to watch out for when your parrot pins his pupils or eyes right? If you havn't and your new to parrots like amazons and macaws this is the perfect example of what it looks like when they pin their eyes. I can normally handle Joe my Harley macaw just fine but when he goes into hormone overload during spring, occasionally, I get this reaction. This is full-on, rip into your hand, keep back, dont touch me mode. I simply respect his boundaries and check with him later. Baby parrots don't get like this, so if your bird is younger and hasn't done this before, just be prepared to give him space as he matures. Reading your parrot is so very important in your relationship. People have bad days and are effected by hormonal changes too so don't get offended or hurt if your bird has a bad day or moment during the day. Yes, every parrot owner gets bit once in a while but as you learn to read their behavior and give them their space you will get bit less or even almost never. One more point while on the subject... IMO large birds should not ride on shoulders... for very obvious reasons ... if your bird were to go hormonal or become scared of something you could very well be headed to the ER for stitches or worse.
Many people have just one bird but, IMO, it is better to have at least two and of the same family like the two pictured here, both macaws, but not necessarily the same species. I have had great success keeping two females or two males without loosing them as pets. I also have a male and female together but do get a bit more agression from the male. Most bird people I find on chat boards have multiple birds. Parrots are very social animals and can only survive in flocks in their wild habitats. For centuries parrots have lived in flocks as a means of survival ever deepeing this essential instinct. Now, when we bring these beautiful animals into our homes we believe they should feel safe and secure. After all, there is nothing that is going to eat them in the safety of our home. We know that but their instincts tell them differently. Their senses tell them only one thing when we walk out the door leaving them alone.... An alone parrot is a dead parrot. As babies things are less dramatic and instincual behavior has not kicked in fully. As they mature instincts grow stronger and so do behavior problems as we impose upon them our lifestyle. Food for thought when parrot shopping.
Dec. 11 2010
This is my Buffons macaw "Sarge." The Buffons macaw is quite rare in macaw collections and I feel very fortunate to have this huge guy with my flock. Barrel chested and a beautiful lime green this macaw species is stunning to say the least. I don't have a lot of experience with Buffons but sarge's temperament is very similar to a Greenwing. Relaxed and content to take long naps in the afternoon... very quiet throughout the day amongst the other macaws. Vocalises with the others in the morning and evening. He needs quite a few nuts along with other things such as this apple he's munching on to keep his weight up. Macaws need the higher fat found in seed and nuts. I really enjoy feeding lots of roasted unsalted peanuts throughout the day as I interact with the birds. The Red Fronteds especially love peanuts. I don't feed nuts everyday so the days I do the birds get their fill (plenty to go around). My diet for them varies from day to day depending on what I have other than the pellets or seed that they get daily. Variety and lots of whatever I have to give seems to me to be closest to a wild diet. Buffons for example eat almonds in their natural habitat but the almond trees don't fruit year round day in and day out. So when almonds aren't in season their eating something else.
Friday Dec. 10
Earlier I wrote about giving your bird some space to go up higher, or down lower, horizontally to the right or left. I found this picture on the internet so if someone wants to claim credit please do. This is a perfect example of giving your bird more space, granted it is more than most can provide, nonetheless, a smaller version could be created in any home or apartment. Yes it may be more than you had hopped and may clash with your decore but remember "accomodate your bird more and owners less" you will reap the rewards of a less stressed bird, less screaming, less feather problems, and avoid a whole rash of behavior problems that plague bird owners today. Seriously, does anyone still think a parrot should spend it's entire life in and on top of an iron box?
Mon. Dec 13th 2010
Many believe that the Scarlet macaw has no facial feathers, but really they do, they're just white. White feathers on a white face appear invisible but if you look closely you can see them. The Scarlet macaw has a superb pet quality, they are very smart, very sensitive and extremely beautiful. The reason this macaw is not always the best choice for novice bird owners is because in our society we still try to impose our will onto our animals. The Scarlet is more sensitive to captivity but if you read about the macaws in the Tambopata research center, who are releasing Blue and Golds and Scarlets into thre jungles, It's the Scarlets that return to the center for handouts and head scratches. They are lovingly called "chicos."
Dec. 15th 2010
This is an amazing photo that belongs to a member of a bird forum that no longer exists. If the owner of this beautiful photo sees this let me know. I chose this photo today because it is so up to date in aviculture with a larger enclosure, a large rope instead of a perch, and this happy fellow munching on a flower. Parrots in the wild play with and eat flowers, tree bark, clay, pieces of rock or grit and other odd items we may not offer or even think to feed in captivity. Many of these items are either eaten during breeding season or only occasionally when some micro-nutrients are needed. It's interesting that parrots somehow know how and when to find needed nutrients. The diets people offer in captivity are either horrible due to a lack of not knowing any better or an educated guess by those of us that take the time to research it. What can't be replicated in regards to the diet of free ranging parrots is the timing. What we can do is offer a huge variety (not all in the same day) instead of constantly using the same brand of pellet or seed mixes along with fruits and vegetable. Mix things up, offer different things, find out what flowers and plants are safe, twigs, rocks, sprouts, bones, etc, etc, ... Think micro-nutrients and creativity. We do the best we can with what we know. As providers for our birds we need to adapt and change to what might be best at any given time as they cannot choose themselves. For example: if your parrot is overweight...feed accordingly, to thin... feed accordingly, too hormonal... less protein, molting... more protein etc... The more you know about parrots the better provider you'll become. Dumping the same pellets into the bowl everyday is almost as bad as filling the bowl up with seed everyday. Food for thought (no pun intended)
Dec. 17 2010
There are good handling techniques that can be learned when holding any parrot but especially the larger macaws. If you're new to parrots in general or have never handled a larger species you and the bird can benefit from a few tips. Here in this picture you can see how the bird is held in a way that the handler has control and not the bird. Have you ever had a bird step onto your forearm only to climb its way up to your shoulder? Only to have him then dodge attempts to get him on your hand again or worse "crunch." Hmm there has to be a better way. Yes, there is. If you notice in this picture the bird can't climb up and rarely will a bird try to climb down. The V that is created between the shoulder and the wrist accomplishes this and gives the handler control. Another way to hold larger birds on your wrist or forearm and maintain control is to lower your wrist/forearm to your waist instead of holding your arm up at chest level. By doing this you make it more difficult for the bird to climb over to your shoulder. For more photos and details visit Macaws as pets.
I chose a photo today that is rather blurry (sorry) but is probably the worst macaw bite I have seen. I frequent some of the bird boards and a question constantly comes up about how much damage a large macaw can do if it gets a good bite. People have to understand that parrots can give nasty bites period! You are much less likely to get bit really bad if you respect your birds boundaries and never push a parrot to do something it doesn't want to do without taking precautions.