Acquired: Pet store
Surrey, United Kingdom
Posted Jul 29, 2013
As part of my Dad's mid-life crisis, he decided to start raising birds in addition to purchasing a new sports car. As I was not allowed to breathe on the car, I was able to help him rear some lovely avian friends.
One of the first birds that we added to the Dr. Doolittle-like clan was a beautiful blue and gold macaw named Chief. The name seemed appropriate for the majestic and commanding appearance of this fine animal. The lady who sold him to us was an expert at raising them from birth and she owned a pet shop near my childhood home. My Dad and I would always go there to pick her brain about Chief or in his case, to flirt like a schoolboy.
Macaws are actually large birds but when born, they fit into the palm of your hand and are too cute to pass by! I was in high school and a precocious girl when Chief first came home so I again took the lead on his care which started very early before I left for school. Baby macaws require hand feeding with a syringe and a perfectly viscous mixture of water and bird formula which can be purchased at your local pet shop. Be sure that the water you are using is not too hot and make sure EVERYTHING that you are using for feeding has been sterilised (just like with small humans). Read the package instructions for dosing and frequency to ensure your bird is getting enough nutrition.
After a few weeks of syringe feeding Chief, we decided to start the weaning process. Weaning is not difficult but it does take common sense and observation. On that note, I would not recommend this particular bird for children under the age of 8 because birds are very special and require a few more steps than a dog or cat. Start with soft foods and judge the progress but never force feed your bird. Chief and I played a little game with his food sometimes (birds are highly intelligent) where he would accept a piece of fruit from me, hold it in his mouth like the tease he was, and then drop it. If I went to retrieve the piece that he dropped, he would give a little squawking protest like I was a ditzy waitress trying to take his plate too soon. After a few more weeks, Chief graduated to seeds and cereal and we could then concentrate on teaching him tricks.
We taught Chief to speak by practising with him twice a day for about 15-20 minutes. He could clearly say "hello" and what I am sure was mumbled cursing but that may have been my very vivid imagination. Chief was very independent and would only speak when he wanted to.
We had purchased a ceiling to floor cage for him so he would have plenty of space to move around and make room for all his toys (Chief always was curious and loved new items in his cage). On occasion, my Dad would let him out and he would sit on a home -made perch (cemented wooden perch in a bucket) whilst whistling and gawking at our cat, daring him to pick a fight.
I would only recommend this bird as a pet for people who really are willing to put effort into it and are not lazy. Macaws can easily die from contamination if their cages/food/water are not cleaned regularly or the temperature around them is not regulated. They are very loving animals and can live a long time if properly looked after. I write this to my chagrin because our Chief died after swallowing a small ring that my Mum had lost from her finger into the carpet. It was a very sad day for the whole family but writing about him in this forum has made me smile and remember how much happiness he brought to us.