My first pet bird was a Macaw, and from this experience, I can confidently say that Macaws are not what a first pet should be. The allure of these majestic creatures is definitely undeniable.
However, a closer look at their requirements makes it apparent why a beginner may fail to align with the needs of these birds.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not in any way implying that it’s impossible to have a perfectly nice Macaw as the first bird. But it’s wise not to start with something as complex.
So, what’s wrong with having a Macaw as a beginner?
This article will answer this. In addition, here you will also find some good alternatives to Macaw. After a thorough read, you will either be, as a beginner, confident about having a Macaw or have a different bird in your home. Both are equally great as long as there’s satisfaction.
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Are Macaws Good for Beginners? Here’s Why Not
When I say Macaws are not ideal as the first avian pal, I say it for multiple reasons. The initial fascination with Macaws often stems from their stunning appearance and intelligence.
Their interactive attitude enhances their charm as well. However, beneath this amazingness, there lies a bunch of challenges that most beginners may not like. Let’s break it down.
Macaws have a wide wingspan. This seems like an impressive feat for these birds. But with these wide-opening wings and their dynamic personality, you get a bird that requires significant space to thrive.
Their enclosures must allow for natural movement, stretching, and mental engagement. As a beginner, I found accommodating such substantial space needs difficult, mainly because I lived in a smaller apartment.
However, even living in a spacious house, birds’ socializing needs may be challenging. Macaws are highly interactive birds.
My first Macaw was really clingy, and I loved it. However, I soon realized that their need for constant companionship means that leaving them alone for extended periods can lead to stress and behavioral issues.
Initially, I found it difficult to balance the rest of my life and my time with the bird. Apart from this, what annoyed me the most was their loud voice. Macaws have powerful calls that can be heard from a long distance.
Not gonna lie. Their vocalizations can be really charming. But, as I had no experience with birds, such loudness felt overwhelming.
Throughout the years, after owning tons of different birds, the loudness of the Macaw doesn’t bother me much. In my younger days, it annoyed me, and I think the same was the case for many others.
While all these factors were more or less dependent on my reaction, what got out of my hand was their dietary needs. Macaws possess specialized dietary requirements that demand careful attention. They won’t eat whatever I offer them.
Their balanced diet includes a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and high-grade pellets. Providing such a diverse and tailored diet was difficult and badly affected my pocket. The worst thing is when I tried to force an alternative diet, my Macaw got sick.
Due to all these difficulties, I had to give up my first bird. But those with problems with none of these can go for a Macaw and enjoy their presence without hesitation. What would be best is if you, like me, get such a ‘high-end’ bird after owning many other similar pets.
Why am I emphasizing against the idea? For the responsibilities it entails. Check it out below.
The Responsibilities of Having a Macaw
Not to be the killjoy here, but having a Macaw is more responsible than fun. This is especially true for beginners.
Years ago, the extensive care and excessive demands of these birds frustrated me. I think it was right for me to feel this way because I didn’t have any prior experience with birds. Here are the things both a beginner and an expert need to do to keep a Macaw:
Satisfy the Specialized Dietary and Social Needs
You may wonder how ‘diet’ and ‘social’ can fit together! Well, it’s falling in the same context where the needs of the Macaw are concerned.
I have already mentioned what the specialized dietary requirements of a Macaw are. The food that these birds need can run your pocket dry. Also, their dietary plan must be modified according to their health condition and sometimes the weather conditions.
It demands extensive research as far as fulfilling their nutrient needs is concerned. For a beginner, such research may be challenging.
I missed many things because I didn’t understand birds when I had my first Macaw. What I am saying is there’s a struggle involved.
Apart from food, these birds have very specific socialization needs as well. Macaws want to bond and play with their owners in a particular way.
Their interaction with the owner affects both their physical and emotional well-being. The problem is, if you don’t interact with them the right way, they will feel lonely and distressed. Eventually, they will get sick. This is what happened to my friend.
He tried to keep his Macaw busy with toys at work. But the Macaw wasn’t happy about it. Eventually, it started plucking its feathers out of stress. So, yes, this is definitely something to think about.
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Offer Mental Stimulation and Enrichment
One of the reasons I chose a Macaw as my first pet was their brilliant intelligence. They have an active mind, and it makes them really interesting. However, little did I know they all require regular mental exercise to keep their minds working.
For this, I had to provide a variety of toys, puzzles, and activities to prevent boredom-related behaviors like feather plucking and destructive chewing of my term papers.
It was all fun at first, but I soon ran out of ideas for activities and thought leaving them with their toys would be fine. I didn’t realize the importance of continuous mental stimulation, which demanded planning and creativity.
I didn’t have that as a beginner, which saddened my pet.
Providing Essential Veterinary Care:
This is what finally made me give up my first Macaw. No, I had no problem taking my bird for checkups whenever needed. It’s just that I didn’t know what to do.
Birds’ health tends to be delicate, requiring frequent doctor visits depending on their surroundings and food habits. This goes for Macaws as well. My first Macaw had frequent nutritional deficiencies and respiratory problems.
What’s worse is I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, which is why the problem was frequent. My lack of experience and naivety caused my bird to suffer.
So, even if a beginner is dead set on getting a Macaw, they must conduct thorough research about the health issues of the birds. With proper experience and/or the right knowledge, it’s possible to have a satisfied Macaw in the house. Otherwise, it’s a NO.
What Are the Alternatives to Macaw?
It was frustrating when I realized Macaws weren’t for me, as I had little knowledge about birds back then. However, after a bit of looking around and talking to experts, I discovered that there are actually some low-maintenance birds.
For example, I brought home a Budgerigar (or Budgies). These are basically small parrots and have very cheerful personalities. The best thing is they are low-maintenance and don’t require a lot of space.
Interestingly, they can mimic sounds impressively well and kept me happy overall as a beginner. In short, I got a bird that looked like a Macaw but didn’t give me any hassle.
Apart from Budgies, there are many other options, such as Cockatiels, Lovebirds, Canaries, Finches, and Parrotlets. All these birds are similar to Macaws in aspects like interaction and behavior but don’t require heavy or complex maintenance.
This is why these are ideal alternatives to Macaws for beginners.
My Final Few Words
Most beginners, like me, are allured by the outlook of Macaws. But once they bring one home, they realize they made a mistake. However, as Macaws are socially interactive, they easily bond with their owners.
As a result, getting rid of them becomes difficult, while having them around becomes a pain in the neck. This is why it’s wise to make sure you can handle the journey of having a Macaw.
If you have read this article, you should have realized whether or not to get a Macaw as your first pet. Even if you realize that Macaws aren’t right for you, there’s no need to get disappointed. Pick an alternative option, and trust me, you will be satisfied.