Macaws are fascinating birds
by Sue Little
Jun 01, 2014 | 405 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Several days ago at Animal Medical Center I was introduced to an special bird named Dallas. Dallas, the largest and most colorful bird I've ever met, was happily perched on the arm of veterinary technician Chris Shelton, who is his favorite person at the center.

Dallas was formerly owned by a staffer who could no longer keep him which, fortunately for him, let him become the center's resident bird.

Chris explained that Dallas is a blue and gold macaw. The blue and gold macaws are often described as the most desirable companion birds in the parrot family because, although each one is an individual, they tend to be “less neurotic than some of the 17 other macaw species which range in size from the 40-inch tall Hyacinth Macaw to the 12-inch tall Red-Shouldered Macaw.”

Soon after I met this handsome bird I called Deanna Phillips, who has been rescuing macaws for many years. The day I called her she had just taken into her care a green wing macaw whose owner had become too ill to care for the bird which had been a companion for 28 years.

Phillips emphasized how vital it is to realize that parrots are noted for their long life spans of 60 to 80 years.

“Even a cockatiel can live up to 20 years,” she noted, as she emphasized the importance of making plans “for a bird or any pet you adopt in the event you are no longer able to provide care.”

She also stressed how important it is to keep these macaws mentally stimulated.

“They have the intelligence of a child 2 to 5 years old. If you keep them in a cage they can get mean. They want to be part of your family and the blue and gold macaw, in my opinion, is the best 'family bird,'” she said.

They are also the best mimics. They can mimic humans, even talking in word phrases.

Yet, behavior problems can arise if the blue and golds receive too little attention and too little interaction with their human family.

A lonely macaw is apt “to become destructive and chew up and consume anything made of wood, or pick off insulation or dismantle locks and maybe eat [parts of] the walls and ceiling, too.

“I know,” she added, “because this happened in my home when I went away for a weekend.”

She emphasized the value of giving macaws “plenty of wooden toys made of 2-by-4 lumber that they can disassemble.”

But, generally speaking, she said macaws seem to her to have more stable personalities and are less nervous than some other bird species.

What nourishing meals do macaws need to stay healthy? “They need pellets enriched with vitamins and minerals, vegetables and fruits. Feeding gets expensive and should be dictated by a veterinarian such as Dr. Greg Miller of the Pet Emergency Clinic in Charleston, or the Ashland Terrace River Clinic in Hixson or the U.T. Veterinary School.”

What is harmful to these birds?

“Among other things, the smell of burning candles can kill them,” Phillips said. “Chocolate candy can, too.”

The longtime bird and pet rescuer concluded by emphasizing the joy of having a bird as a family member but you must have the time to bond and train them. You can't just lock them up and forget about them.

“I am realistic. I am willing to discipline by mimicking their own behavior and being firm. If one bites, I take two fingers and lightly thumping its beak, say a firm, 'No!' And that green wing macaw soon coming into my care is even bigger than the blue and gold macaw you just met, and mentioned to me it was the biggest bird you'd ever seen,” said the talented lady, with a smile, who gives her own birds detailed loving care, including clipping their nails, wings and beaks.

Deanna will be available to talk with potential bird adopters or those who already have birds and need her recommendation and advice about how to give them the fine, loving care they need. She can be reached at 304-6516.

Paws up this week to: Animal Control Officers Roy Womack and David Creasman; Arlene Faires; Margie Carter; Kathy Kinder; Linda Manning; Barbara Whittaker; Jimmy and Sara Lewis; and all who rescued a pet with the assurance of providing a long, wonderful life in a forever home.

Call me with your pet and wildlife stories, 728-5414; or write to: E.S.P., P.O. Box 4864, Cleveland TN 37320.