Q: I have a yellow naped amazon parrot and I will be bringing home my new blue and gold macaw baby in a few weeks. I live in a small house that has a small living room. Can I keep both birds together in one really big cage?
Oliver M., Paterson, NJ
A: No. It will be unsafe to keep these two species together in one cage. People often house their birds together with the expectation that they will become the best of friends. After all, they are both birds and should have a world of things in common, right? Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
A captive bird’s cage is its nest-site. It is ingrained in your bird to protect its nest for its own survival or for the survival of its mate and young. Many birds will fight to defend the nest by driving away an invader – whether it is a snake or foreign bird species. Different bird species like to do things their own way in the nest and the habits of your amazon are unlikely to coalesce with the habits of an even an immature macaw.
It is impossible to determine whether one bird will enjoy, or even accept, the company of another – even with birds of the same species. When we make a companion choice for them it doesn’t always play out the way we see it in our fantasies. Jealousy can contribute to escalating tension between the birds. And it is entirely possible that your amazon will foolishly throw the first punch.
The most concerning aspect is the enormous size and weight difference between the two birds. Should your birds resort to violence, your amazon will most likely be the loser. The fact that they are enclosed in a cage makes it impossible for one bird to fly off to escape attack. The result of a disagreement would be injury – possibly death.
Of course, there is the possibility that the two bird will get along well, but there is just as real a chance that they won’t. You DON’T want to make that discovery by coming home one day to an injured or dead bird. And even if the worst didn’t happen, think how difficult it would be for a bird to be locked in the same cage with a bird it doesn’t particularly like, or is afraid of…
Be smart and keep the birds safe by letting them have homes to call their own. Be slow, careful and deliberate in their introduction in a neutral play area, watching for any signs of aggression. It is very important that you supervise all interactions between these two species of birds.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.