Q – I have a blue and gold macaw which comes from the rainforest in South America. Since it is very humid there, how much should I raise the humidity in my bird room?
– Norman H., Missoula, MO
A – This is a great question and the answer is surprisingly simple. It goes hand in hand with a very commonly asked question: “how warm should I keep my bird room?”
These questions arise based on our understanding of the climate our parrots are native to. The natural range of the blue and gold macaw is a largest portion of the northern half of South America. Generally speaking, the climate they are native to is moderate in temperature and quite humid. These are the conditions to which their species has evolved and in which their wild counterparts live.
However, our birds do not live in Brazil’s wet rainforests or Australia’s arid outback. They live in our living rooms – and these are the conditions to which they have been acclimated. If you were to increase the temperature and humidity level to match that which is the norm in the rainforest, your bird (and you) would just be uncomfortable.
Historically, the species that have had the most longevity on our planet have been those with the greatest ability to adapt to changing climate and conditions. Parrots and all of their evolutionary predecessors have been survivors that were able to change when change was needed.
A perfect example of parrot adaptability is the quaker parrot whose origins are in the subtropical climates of South America but has shown it can thrive in very extreme northern temperatures that many feral quakers now live in year round.
So to answer to your question, keep the average indoor temperature between 60 and 80 degrees and the humidity level around 50% and your blue and gold will be just fine. If it feels uncomfortable to you, it will be uncomfortable to your parrot as well.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.