Rescue / shelter organization
Alabama, United States
Posted Feb 16, 2014
Though Annabel is not my own bird, she is every bit part of my family. Coming to live with my parents about ten years ago, she is a lot like the little sister I never had. A rescue bird, she is both affectionate and prone to demonstrating a sense of self-preservation that may be mistaken for aggression, but--in ideal conditions--she is sweet, affectionate, and absolutely rational, much like a young child.
One of the most notable characteristics of this family member is her undying loyalty. When my mother passed almost eight years ago, Annabel took her absence very hard. Staying with my father for the week after my mother's funeral, I was jolted out of bed the first night by the heartwrenching cry from the sun room, where Annabel rested at night. Over and over again, Annabel bellowed, "Mama! Mama! I am a good bird!" And for several weeks afterward, and intermittently for awhile after that, coaxing her to eat was difficult. I will never question that Annabel considered my mother hers, too, and it was fitting supposition as they were very close.
Beautiful and intelligent, Blue and Gold Macaws should be expected to choose their words with some rational approach. Annabel functions with the sort of vocabulary often demonstrated by kindergartner children, and her choices are often perched on comedic genius. From time to time, she will dance when I sing to her, request certain treats, and scold people and other animals she believes are not acting as they ought. Furthermore, as she is given free room to roam whenever supervision is available, she was trained by my mother to see herself to her "room," her sleep cage, whenever she has misbehaved herself.
As fun and entertaining as Blue and Gold Macaws, among other colorful and whimsical birds, are, choosing these magnificent creatures as a pet should be done with careful consideration. Issues to consider before bringing such a bird home to roost with you are:
* wing/flight space
* cleaning and feeding routine
* health and longevity
* safety for both the bird and small children living/visiting the house.
Annabel is nearly three feet long and weighs over 3 pounds. Large and adventurous, she has a broad wingspan and could become injured should she attempt to fly in too close quarters. My father has opted not to clip her wings, but she has wide space in her habitat for flight, with over fifty feet at either side of her aviary.
Feeding Annabel is not a terrible problem, but it can be expensive. While some would expect seed diet to be adequate, a healthy macaw needs a variety of foods to keep her interested in eating and to ensure proper dietary standards. Macaws who eat only seeds will suffer from vitamin deficiencies. Annabel has an exciting diet of seeds, pellets, some fruits and veggies, and the occasional spaghetti noodle, without meat sauce. DO NOT feed parrots seeds or pits from the rose (rosacea) family and AVOID avocados, chocolates, and caffeine as well, as these foods are toxic to them.
Macaws may require costly vet treatments, and anyone choosing to purchase one should become acquainted with a veterinarian who understands and specializes in their treatment. Furthermore, with a lifespan of 30-50+ years when properly cared for, Blue and Gold Macaws require other considerations as well. My father, in fact, as stipulated an order for caregivers in his will, with my niece as the first to inherit Annabel at his passing.
Anyone who is insensitive to the needs and responses of parrots might do them harm, even inadvertently, and small children do not come fully trained in the care for exotic animals. While Annabel has been around many small children, my father and all of us kids are quick to point out to visitors and groups Annabel visits that she is a Look-Don't-Touch being for people with whom she is unfamiliar. This protects both Annabel and little people's little fingers, as the crushing force of a macaw beak, designed to crack open exotic nuts, may deliver over 1000 pounds of force. Annabel has nipped many of us on certain occasions, often accidentally. While we never suffered severely damaged digits, we have sustained bloody spots that children should not have to experience.
Too many people allow themselves to become mesmerized by these exquisite animals, and in those dazzled moments they choose to purchase birds that are often more than they expected to handle. That is exactly how Annabel came to live with my parents who accepted her as a rescue animal when her previous owners discovered after only six months that they had neither the space in their house nor in their lives for such a time- and energy-demanding creature. For personality and lovableness, I give Annabel a big thumb's up, but I cannot in good conscience recommend her lightly as a pet.