If you've never had experience with large, intelligent birds I would say hold off on taking in a macaw. Even the smaller quaker parrots can create an unholy mess, so you need to be prepared for a lot of cleaning and maintenance work. Like every single day. In addition to the manual labor, these birds need a lot of mental stimulation to remain healthy and happy. Think of taking on a toddler child for the rest of your life. Literally. The big parrots can live longer than humans if they're healthy, so it's a huge responsibility to bring one into your life.
Their intelligence can be a double-edged sword. It makes them fun, interesting and loving companions - IF you work on the relationship. Make sure you do plenty of solid research to make certain you really want a parrot as a companion. We have a large SPCA where I live, and many kinds of parrots are not at all unusual to find there. People get tired of them and when the bad behavior starts - like biting - the parrot is out the door. I don't mean to sound so discouraging, but really want to impress on you that these birds demand responsible ownership, so don't make the decision lightly.
Ireneo is our resident bird expert here, and hopefully she can give you more detailed info specifc to macaws very soon. :-)
Ask me about owls, hawks and songbirds and I'm ready. Ask about pet birds and I'm a complete novice. I've never owned a pet bird. I certainly understand why someone would want one because they are amazing. But I'm used to setting birds free.
My only experience with macaws was during the brief time I worked at an avian clinic. I have to admit I was intimidated by them. They are intelligent and very devoted to their own people family. But when I had to go in with one, I was very cautious. With that beak they can do some serious damage. Kind of funny actually - I can grab a 4 foot heron or a 13 lb eagle but the macaws made me nervous.
So Jaybay is right. If you want a macaw, be prepared to spend time with it. If that bird gets mad at you, you're in trouble. I imagine they can hold a grudge for quite awhile.
While at the avian clinic I had a cockatoo bite me because she was happy riding around on my shoulder and got angry when I tried to put her back in her cage. I still have a scar on my thumb. And cockatoos are much smaller than macaws.
It's really a risky idea to get a macaw if you're a novice pet bird owner. They are large birds with large, sharp beaks and large, sharp claws; they also have horribly loud voices if they choose to scream. They are extremely intelligent--some species are equivalent to a 4 yr old child, like the African Grey parrot, and most others are in the range of a 2-3 yr old child's intelligence. They're also very tempermental birds, as mentioned above, you'd better hope you don't end up with a grudge against you by a macaw!
They require very routine maintenance, like Jaybay said. The bigger the bird, the bigger the mess. Macaws need a huge cage, and most of the time, they're not going to be in it; they'll be on your shoulder or on a perch in your presence, watching what you do. They are a very devoted bird when it comes to their owners. Most macaws end up developing a bond with their owner that is on the same basis as a mate, and some species of macaw mate for life, if I'm not mistaken.
If you've never owned a pet bird before, I highly recommend NOT starting out with a macaw! I've owned birds for 10 years, and I can tell you, I'd NEVER own a macaw or large parrot because of the devotion to ownership you have to be willing to take on. Macaws and large parrots require the most care and understanding of any bird because of their size and intelligence.
Good birds to consider, if you're a beginner with birds, are small parrots like conures, senegals, ringneck and quaker parakeets, cockateils, and budgerigars (aka, parakeets). Most of the small parrots can form the same bond with you as a large parrot, but they're nowhere near as intimidating. And most of them can be taught to speak decent vocabularies and songs.
But if you really want to get a macaw, then I'd advise that you do LOTS of research on them before getting one. You don't want to just get one and bring it home, that's for sure!
Macaws also bond with one person. I have a Blue and Gold, he is so sweet and loving but to ME only. I can lay him in my arms like a baby, swing him around by his foot, he has free reign of the house but I have SEVERAL door casings and such chewed completely to the wall. They will chew anything so having houseplants is a bad thing unless you keep them caged and supervised. Having a Macaw around small children is not a good idea either. They however do well with cats and other animals. Food, expect to find see in every corner of your home. I find seed shells in places he cannot even get to so they are VERY messy. Mine is not loud, he actually hates noise, I have a Double Yellow Head Amazon also, he is not messy but God is he LOUD. The Macaw is constantly screaming "SHUT UP" to him. They are very comical though. As far as a Macaw as a first bird. My Macaw was the first bird I've ever had, I've had him for almost 20 years and wouldn't trade him for a million dollars
IN REGARDS TO: MACAW AS PET'S,..Melissa70817 ...is right as rain in every word mention & meaning, took me a few to stop laughing long enough to type this ...I have had many smaller breed parrots etc over the better part of 35 years...., i,m the person that takes the abused /beaten/ food starved/ attention starved/got tired of /mean/wont tame.. and the worst yet.... the "novel idea of owning a parrot" people. my house pet is a blue/gold macaw 17 yrs old, he is a blast & its exactly like raising a 3yr old the rest your life., macaw's have (our) life span's., if there is i thing i would want you to take from my post is...most people see the bird they want and deside thats my new bird !!, ..>>WRONG<<, you don't get to choose the parrot , the parrot has to choose you and i can tell you from experience , you can tell the diff. and it will make every diff. in the world down the line & years to come, macaws are loyal to all family members unless they deside to bond , not all of them do, i,m with Melissa70817, get a blue/gold macaw, sure bet you will never be sorry for your choice, gd luck !!
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