Species group: Macaws
Other common names: Blue and Yellow Macaw
Scientific name: Ara ararauna
The Blue and Gold Macaw is an impressive beauty that is often considered to be easier to handle and less neurotic than the other large macaws. As a consequence, this intelligent, adaptable bird is one of the most popular macaws kept in captivity.
This macaw is a very widespread species,found throughout northern and central South America, with its original range extending from Panama in Central America, east to the island of Trinidad, and down south to Bolivia and Brazil. Unfortunately, the species was extirpated in Trinidad. A re-introduction program has been initiated, but the progress is uncertain. Perhaps it is too soon to know if it will be successful. They seem to like wet, humid tropical or subtropical forest, or nearby partly open areas. They often fly in pairs, making them a thrilling sight to see as they skim over the treetops.
You could only confuse this huge long-tailed blue and yellow parrot with the critically endangered Blue-Throated Macaw, but the popular Blue and Gold Macaw has a black (not blue) throat and a green (not blue) forehead.
1040 - 1285 grams (37 - 45 oz.)
86 centimeters (34 in.)
Behavior / temperament:
Blue and Gold Macaws are inquisitive and playful. They seem to be much more confident and not as fearful or nervous as some of the other macaw species, such as the Scarlet. Daily loud vocalizations, especially ‘flock calls’, and destructive chewing are natural parts of their behavior and should be expected and enjoyed by their owners. While they don't have a great reputation as talkers, they can learn a few words, and some Blue and Golds have very human voices for those few words they do deign to speak. So don't hesitate to try to teach your pet to call you by name.
Sometimes the human laugh is an easy sound for them to learn, so have fun with them. They are intelligent and loving, so for someone who can provide for their needs and respect their normal macaw behaviors, they make good companions. Please bear in mind that if you see one Blue and Gold Macaw in the wild, you almost always see its mate. Like most other macaws, they are highly social, with a strong pair bond. Do not leave this bird alone and neglected. They may seem more independent than some other birds, but the truth is, they really long for companionship and thrive on your attention.
A single Blue and Gold Macaw needs a huge, specialty cage that accommodates the long, graceful tail. A good minimum sized primary cage would be 40”w x 30”d x 60”h with no more than 1½ ” bar spacing. Many captive Blue and Golds rarely or never fly, so it's more important to have room to encourage them to climb than to worry about a long horizontal flight. The cage should be a professionally constructed, powder-coated metal. Cheap wooden fittings and perches will be chewed-up matchsticks in less than a day. You should employ stout manzanita perches in areas where you do not want to change the perches very often.
You should also have plenty of macaw-safe perches and toys for the bird to chew at will. Do not punish the bird for chewing these items to destruction, since you want your pet to chew them for good healthy exercise. Yes, you'll go through a lot of toys. A macaw is not a cheap date. Although not considered to be a classic diva like a Scarlet Macaw, a Blue and Gold Macaw will still expect you to lavish some money on its lifestyle.
It is very important with a parrot of this size to provide a large playpen area that is away from the cage – NOT on top of the cage. At times, especially during hormonal surges, your Blue and Gold Macaw can become very territorial about its cage, and you will want to have plenty of practice moving the bird to neutral territory where the macaw can play without feeling obligated to defend the area. They are powerful birds, and you want to establish yourself as kind but in control of the relationship from the very beginning. If you allow yourself to be intimidated, even a Blue and Gold can sometimes become aggressive. These birds go in pairs or, perhaps, small family groups in the wild, and it is not natural for them to spend a lot of time alone.
If you must set up the bird in an outdoor aviary removed from the family, talk to another macaw breeder and then carefully go through the appropriate steps to set up the bird with a friend or a mate. An outdoor aviary needs to be carefully designed to protect your birds from thieves, nuisance animals that can threaten a bird such as raccoons, and special netting to protect from mosquito-borne disease. An added twist is that these strong, intelligent birds might figure out a way to let themselves out of the aviary and then become confused or lost. Before you design the aviary, talk to someone who has done it before.
Like the other South American macaws and conures, the Blue and Gold Macaw demands a varied, nutrient-rich diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources. There are several diets that work for this species. A good pellet-based diet, with lots of chopped vegetables and fruits on the side, can be a good daily diet, but take care that this intelligent bird does not get bored with the pellets. Soak-and-cook, either from a vet or a commercial supplier, can be the answer, although it's more work than pellets. Many people like to create their own grain and legume based diet, which generally includes a mix of well-cooked beans and grains, including brown rice. As a practical matter, you will probably want to prepare the cooked diet in large batches, freezing what you're not using in a couple of days, and then defrosting it as you need it.
Small, high carbohydrate seeds like millet can be included in the mix. Don't laugh. Macaws do have the patience to crack tiny millet seed, and these seeds are low in fat, so if you have an overweight bird, you can still allow them the pleasure of cracking seed, without loading them down with lots of fat. Unless the bird is very overweight, the Blue and Gold Macaw will benefit from up to 20% nuts in the diet, especially nuts in the shell that the bird can enjoy cracking for itself.
A well-socialized Blue and Gold Macaw may want to help you eat your dinner, which is fine if you eat a healthy diet that's rich in vegetables and whole grain, but never allow a macaw to sample avocado, chocolate, or undercooked meat or poultry. While several species of macaws, including the Blue and Gold, have been seen at the clay licks taking salt, today's modern diets already have plenty of salt. Don't salt the macaw's food or provide supplemental salt except on the advice of an avian vet.
Written by Elaine Radford
wonderful companions, clumsy goofballs, affectionate bird, greatest joy, great companion macaws
screams, anger issues, HUGE poops, seasonal hormonal behaviors, behavioral challenges, big beak lunging
large enclosure, experienced bird owner, long lifespan, long tails, magnificent wing spread
Pokey & Vanilla Ice Cream
Pokey was 11years old and by the time I acquired him, finding out his background like a jigsaw puzzle, I was to be his 8th & final home. He passed away from liver disease, which was probably brought on by poor diet and location. Upon initial veterinary check, he was given 3 months to live. He survived (& thrived, I believe) for 6 & 1/2 years. He found a mate, in my Greenwing Macaw. They did try to breed. Okay, back to Pokey-Mon who was once taught to rock side to side and mimic The Terminator's "I'll Be Back" in that unmistakable Schwartznegger Voice.
Most of all, He turned out to be my prize! He would sit on my lap and nearly purr. He would preen my hair and I was even able to hold my GW AND him on my lap together without any problems. But the best story and most memorable, was that Pokey, came to me with an established love for ice cream. Shortly after he came to live with me, I was eating a vanilla cone, Pokey began to scream, and I wasn’t sure what he wanted. I offered him my cone and nearly lost my fingers as he tried to steal the whole scoop. He always screamed when he saw vanilla ice cream but never reacted that way for chocolate.
I rarely denied him ice cream (I didn't eat much ice cream anyway) and I gave him more leeway than the rest of my flock which by this time was 5. He died in my arms while his mate looked on. We both grieved for a year, until it was time for my GW to find another mate, the best thing I could do for her.
For sure, he is missed..
From Elise N Oct 17 2014 8:40AM
Blue and Gold Macaw
Ten years ago my husband begged me to let us get a macaw. I knew little of birds except they were messy. He had never had a bird either. We bought a blue and gold macaw from a pet store. The owner told us that she had raised her from a baby and she was still quite young. Her name was Blue. She immediately took to my husband and enjoyed riding everywhere on his shoulder. Everyone else she tried to bite and squawked at. We got her a large cage with an upper play, perch area. We put this in the main family room so she would always have company around and things to watch.
Our other animals, dogs and cats, soon learned to stir clear of her mighty beak. She screamed at everything and everyone often. Although we put plastic down around the bottom of the cage, she often flew or walked over to the sofas to play with whoever she could, or to tear up the upholstery. The carpet was soon beyond hope.
Blue is LOUD. You should not keep a macaw in an apartment, because your neighbors will complain. She did learn a few words, such as our names, and cuss words that my teenage son and his friends unintentionally taught her while they played video games. She also learned to bark like the dogs and meow like the cats.
Blue is a one person bird, and only seems to like my husband. He stopped allowing her on his shoulder because he read that this makes them feel dominant. Blue hates vacuuming and any other loud noise that scares her or that she is not accustom to. She does like special treats like various fruits and nuts. It is also important to buy a hard wood perch that they cannot destroy. When macaws are bored they will attempt to take apart anything they can get to. For this reason, they should always have new toys in their cage.
Blue is now about 10 years old. We have moved to a new house, and she now lives in the basement by some large windows. She does not get the human interaction that she used to, but she also seems calmer and is less prone to scream. Her cage is never closed, and she roams free from inside her cage to the top play area, and over to her near-by round travel perch. Although she has free range of a large walkout basement, she no longer flies or walks around on the floor (unless startled).
I would not recommend a macaw to anyone who is not willing to spend a great deal of time training and interacting with them. They live to be quite old and need a serious long term commitment..
From cmpaton Dec 1 2014 4:35PM
Not the pet for me
I never truly owned a Macaw, but did live with one for a year. In that year I learned that I am not ideally suited to bird ownership. More than anything, it was the noise. Some people don't mind the loud vocalizations, but to me they were like nails on a chalkboard.
My room mate's bird, Mack, was also very unfriendly and distrustful of anyone but his primary owner. I understand that this is not uncommon with Blue and Gold Macaws. Anyone considering making this animal an addition to their family should be absolutely certain that they are the right match. These are extremely intelligent animals that require a lot of love, attention, and space in order to thrive. It would be cruel to both the human and the bird to bring it into the wrong home..
From Satchmo Apr 3 2015 8:17PM