Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder),
South Dakota, United States
Posted Feb 04, 2011
Let's start with the basic macaw pro's and con's...of course you should know that these do not apply to ALL birds-there is always an exception. Birds vary individually as do humans - it isn't fair to generalize all birds just because they are the same species, but there are certain characteristics of these birds that do tend to appear in most others of the same species.
Before even CONSIDERING getting a macaw, there really are several things you need to consider. First being cost. These are no cheap birds - Rockie's breeder sells Calicos for $1300+. You can budget in another $1000 for a cage (you can get crafty and figure out some cheaper caging options as we did for our macaw), $150+ in toys (they are dreadfully expensive, and unfortunately don’t last long at all) and of course the costs of food - may as well budget in costs for feeding another small child.
Next consider the noise. Macaws are not quiet birds - Rockie is quiet for a macaw but in relation to other birds, their sound level is (at times) unbearable. Macaws SCREAM. They do this in the wild to communicate with others of their kind, and naturally this behavior is built in to them even if they are tamed. Macaw screams are dreadfully loud, and go figure, we live in an apartment with our Macaw ;-P Make sure that you have either (a) a nice house spaced a decent ways away from neighbors or (b) very understanding neighbors. In addition to the Macaw screaming, Rockie also screams...like human screams that sound like a little girl being tortured. It's awful - we live on the third floor and can hear him all the way in the parking lot. God bless our neighbors &all they put up with, especially when Mr. Rockie gets hungry and decides to throw a fit!
Another thing to consider is the space they will take up. Macaws are no small birds - they need a large cage to where their tail feathers won't be touching the ground (or anything else for that matter). I'm not sure how large Rock's cage is, but I can tell you that it takes up our whole dining room area. Big birds=big cage requirements.
In general (we've noticed this for ourselves as well as heard it from a few Cali breeders) Calicos have fantastic vocabularies. Rockie can repeat complete phrases - mostly everything we say to him we've heard him repeat back to us...everything from "Wanna nut?" to "Rockie! What? Move it!" and "I love you". He says a lot of words perfectly clear, like Hi and Hello...most times strangers can understand him. Of course, do not go out and purchase a Calico Macaw solely for their talking ability...BAD move.
These birds WILL outlive you...they can live to be 80-90 years old if they are properly taken care of. They also require quite a bit of attention and mental simulation, otherwise they can become very destructive (Rockie can shred a phone book in about 5 minutes…talk about a serious beak!)
Now that I've told you some general things about these Macaws, I'll move on to Rockie specifically.
Rockie is a real character...our relationship is definitely love hate, and for the most part it is only a love relationship when he is in his cage. He has bonded so closely with my fiancé that he will charge at me if I go near my fiancé and he is out of his cage. I'm not going to lie - being charged by a macaw is nothing less than frightening. Regardless of what I do, he refuses to lighten up around me...to put it simply: he's not a fan of anyone besides my fiancé. If you are in a household with small children, or heck, children at all you will want to take this in to consideration. Should you feel that you can handle a Macaw, spend the extra money and get a hand raised baby; this should greatly reduce the chances of aggression…I can’t even imagine what I would do if I were a mother and Rockie decided that he wasn’t a fan of my fiancé loving up on someone else – there is really nothing you could do should a bird decide to show an infant who is boss. Look at it this way – through a bird’s eyes: they OWN you. Unfortunately quite a few birds have this mentality, especially macaws and cockatoos.
Rockie is manipulative...it's not a matter of if these birds will outsmart you, it's a matter of when. They will test you, they will do things just to make you angry, and they will purposely annoy you for attention (picture a forever 3 year old child...that's basically their mentality). Rockie is currently going through his puberty stage, so he is very hormonal and bipolar. If he gets anything less than his 8 hours of sleep, beware! Hormones + lack of sleep = prepare to be bitten! He recently freaked out on my fiancé (first time it's ever happened) and bit his lip, sliced open his hand, and nicked his hand in several other places – imagine the damage he could have done if he actually wanted to hurt him. Macaw beaks are some of the worst (of course next to cockatoos).
I am not at all trying to talk people out of getting a Calico Macaw, or a Macaw of any kind – we love Rockie and would be lost without him, but just please please PLEASE do your research before committing to one of these birds. They can make great pets, but they do take tons of time, money, and devotion - they are a lifelong comittment! I would not recommend these birds to a first time bird owner, or as a child's pet. If anyone has any questions about these, or any other macaws please don't hesitate to contact me! I'd love to talk with you! Don't get me wrong - I love Rockie like he's our baby, but he is a little turd sometimes...if you don't want a bird who will challenge your authority on a daily basis, a macaw is definitely not the way to go!