Benni Macaw is six months old and has lived with our flock for five months. Here’s my second report of the ups and downs in his education. He’s teaching me so much, because although I’ve worked with Macaws and had the marvellous Blue and Gold Alfie staying on several occasions, I've never had my own Macaw.
My principal ambition for Benni:
First, to bring up a fully socialised, easy to handle pet Macaw and the second is to fly him safely outdoors. I’m confident of achieving the first, less so for the second.
So how far have we got?
The conservatory is set up as a bird room with three cages (generally open), two play stands and a canopy of branches and baskets under the roof. Benni lives there most of the time with Perdy the Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo and Artha and Casper, the Greys.
For the winter months the two aged Amazons Lena and Timi stay indoors. In warmer months, they live outside 24/7.
I used to keep the pet birds indoors in winter but this year I’ve taken them to the aviary for 2 – 4 hours. I’ve not found a consensus on what are the lowest temperatures tropical Parrots can cope with. But going outside when it’s not actually frosty or bitter east wind, seems to keep them in health and shiny feathers although they are usually pretty keen to come in again in the afternoon.
I feed the aviary birds and indoor birds breakfast separately. Benni is shut in his cage for an hour as I want him to eat Macaw pellets.
Benni knows when he’s due to go outside. He drops his head to let me put his harness on. Because he’s worn the harness daily before a feed as a young chick, he accepts it easily. On the harness, I show him the garden where I hope one day he’ll fly. We enter the aviary, harness off and he immediately flies onto to one of his branches. The permanent inhabitants ignore him. Even Melly, a rescued white pigeon who’s very bossy, doesn’t try to shift Benni off a perch. It does look strange seeing a Macaw among fifteen mixed Parakeets, since he’s several times larger than all of them.
The only Parrot he has some dealings with is Artha Grey, who was hand-reared by Barrett Watson. In her nursery cage were a Military Macaw, another Grey and a Cockatoo. An unforgettable memory I have is of six week old Artha being brought out to show me, with the Cockatoo and the Military Macaw perched on the hand feeder’s arm. She has always liked Macaws. She and Benni will perch near one another.
Casper Grey still takes precedence over every other bird. If Benni lands near him, Casper gives him a signal too rapid for my human senses to process and Benni flies off.
Every evening between 4 or 5 pm, Benni comes into our living space with the other pet birds. At this time, I train Benni and then play with him until his bedtime at 6pm. Unlike the adult Parrots who stay up to keep us company at supper time and watch TV with us, Benni around 5.45pm acts exactly like an overexcited toddler. He lies on his back; he kicks his legs and “bites” at everything in reach.
These aren’t real bites and he can be distracted by toys.
I believe he understands the word “bedtime” because he hears it and flies to the picture rail. However it’s token resistance. I stand on the sofa; he steps up and once taken to the conservatory he doesn’t offer a squawk. I must say putting him to bed is a doddle. He no longer sleeps in his cage but perches on the canopy.
So I’d say his socialisation with other birds is satisfactory. With people he is curious to meet anyone new. He has sat on the knees of several friends who were not exactly Parrot lovers, maybe because he’s so beautiful with his sweeping azure tail and his golden chest feathers.
Benni finds beards intriguing and will preen these artificial feathers as long as the bearded person will accept his ministrations. He lets the grandchildren stroke him at Christmas time.
Look for Dot's next updates on Benni soon, where she explains how her training with Benni is going.
Find goodies for Blue and Gold Macaws such as Benni here.
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