The Nuts and Bolts of Taking Care
of Your Blue & Gold Macaw
Blue and Gold Macaws are magnificent birds. They have spectacular plumage and a personality to match. They’re affectionate, social, and intelligent. That isn’t to say that they don’t have their issues but when they’re cared for properly, they do quite well in most families. Proper care includes a nutritious diet, quality sleep, and a cage environment that meets their needs.
In the wild a Blue and Gold Macaw eats lots of fruits, leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, leaves and bark. They also eat small animal life. Additionally, in the wild, they lick clay to detoxify poisonous seeds they eat and also to gain minerals.
In captivity their diet will consist of 65% pellets, 30% fresh fruits and vegetables including oranges, apples, melon, broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, celery etc…they can eat most fruits and veggies, however make sure to steer clear of avocados – they’re toxic to all birds.
The remaining 5% of their diet can be devoted to the seeds and nuts they love to eat. Why not feed them a diet based in seeds and nuts?
Seeds and nuts have a high fat content and can cause illness including liver disease and cancer. Save the seeds and nuts for treats or rewards during training sessions.
What do Blue and Gold Macaws do when they’re not eating? Well, they spend about 10 hours each day sleeping – or at least they should spend about 10 hours each day sleeping, 11 or 12 if they’re still young.
Quality sleep is important for a Blue and Gold because they will get cranky without it and you don’t want a bird this size to be grumpy if you can avoid it! Sleep solutions are not always easy. Make sure that your bird is able to sleep in a dark quiet place. That may mean you have to cover or move their cage at night.
When you’re setting up a proper cage environment you have several things to consider. Where do you place the cage? What size and shape cage should you get? What should the cage be made of and what features does your Blue and Gold need? Lastly, what do you put in their cage to keep them busy when you’re gone? A blue and gold is an intelligent and playful bird and they need toys to keep them busy and entertained.
Let’s start with the first question. Where do you place your Macaws cage? The ideal location is in the corner or against a wall in the room that you and your family spend most of their time in.
This enables them to be part of the family even when they’re inside their cage. The reason you want to put it against the wall or in a corner is because it enables your Macaw to feel more comfortable. Now they only have to keep guard on two or three sides rather than all the way around. Remember, these are wild birds with wild instincts and the instinct to protect themselves from predators is still deeply ingrained.
If you place them on a counter top or table where they’re exposed, they can get quite stressed out and start exhibiting poor behaviors.
But what about sleep, you might be thinking. If we’re in the family room at night and they’re trying to sleep how will they get the 10 hours they need? There are many solutions, have a separate sleeping cage or get a cage with casters so you can move it at night.
The last issue that you need to decide, or quite likely the first, is where are you going to put your Blue and Gold Macaw? What kind of cage do you buy? I’ll tell you straight up, the bigger the cage, the happier the bird. The happier the bird, the happier you and your family will be. So, that being said, the minimum cage requirements are 3 feet by 2 feet by 5 feet.
A tall cage is a must because Macaws are treetop dwellers and they like to climb up high. The other thing that is a must is a steel cage. They’ll be out of a plastic cage faster than you can say “polly” so don’t even consider it. Stainless steel is the best and it will last a lifetime. It is also very expensive. Your next option is to get a steel cage that has been treated with a non-toxic paint. Make sure the paint won’t flake off.
There are a few features that will make your life easier and your bird’s life healthier. A door that opens down or to the side is the safest type of door. A guillotine door is extremely dangerous.
A cage on casters makes it easy to move. Make certain the bars are close enough together that they cannot escape or get caught. Lastly, it is important to make sure the cage has a wire grated bottom and a pull out tray below it for easy cleanup.
Taking the time to set up a proper environment for your Blue and Gold Macaw will help to ensure a great relationship and a long and healthy life. While it may seem costly at the outset, veterinarian bills for a sick Macaw or worse a Macaw that you can’t hang out with because they’re unhappy and aggressive are costlier.