Macaw Personality Differences

Photo by Dave Location: Waynesboro, VA Macaws: Camelot macaws "Comet" & "Tusa", blue throated macaw "Jinx"

Recently I was asked what kind of personality differences I’ve noticed in the macaws I’ve worked with, and I thought it would make an interesting blog post for those of you wondering the same thing. For me, I have noticed that some generalizations about specific macaws tend to be true, but I also believe strongly that the human companion of a parrot really helps/influences the molding of that parrot’s personality as well depending on how they raise them. Just like people, all birds are different in personality, so I’m going to share what I’ve witnessed among some of the different macaws I’ve worked with...

 Photo by Nathan Slabaugh Location: San Angelo, Texas Modeling with me: Military Macaw "Crash"

Cash, or “Crash” as we called him once beginning flight training, was very fitting to military macaw generalizations such as being super vocal. Anytime we would bring the other macaws to or from the aviaries he was sharing with them, he would call and call and call to them. Even if we had gotten to the point of putting the other birds inside the aviary, Crash was still hollering about it. I distinctly remember one night after two shows Dave and I were walking our 3 show macaws back to the aviaries where Crash was waiting for them. He began screaming, hearing us coming and some animal activists shouted, “Stop beating that bird! Leave him alone!” Of course, those activists couldn’t actually SEE anything, they just assumed a bird getting beaten would scream like that apparently... none of which had obviously been around birds... I wished the fence hadn’t been so tall so they could see they were talking about a bird outside in a huge aviary that was, in fact, alone. Not being beaten, and not even being touched. We were still on the other side of the tent with the others who were peacefully quiet. I was laughing quite hard about this for a while.

 Photo by Dave Location: Orlando, FL Playing: Military macaw "Crash"

Crash was always very playful, but he played rough like the boy he was and so I left the rough housing up to him and Dave. Tusa, our youngest Camelot Macaw, was the only other flock member that played with Crash that rough. No one else liked to quite get as feisty as Crash. Because Crash came to us clipped, he always struggled more with flight skills. He was raised with two blue and gold macaws who at one point wouldn’t allow him to get to the food and water in a giant aviary they all were housed in and so he became very sick and the experience made him HATE other birds. The blue and golds would team up against him, and this made him become a “bully bird” once out of the situation. He bullied our three macaws as they were 4 years younger than him until they were big enough to stand up for themselves. That’s when Tusa became the “peace maker” among the flock. He would set any one flock member straight if they were causing trouble, and no one messed with Tusa. He didn’t bully, he just let them know it wasn’t okay and when they stopped, all was well again. It took a bit of team work from our 3 macaws to gang up against Crash to put him in his place but once he learned, he became best pals with Tusa and didn’t cause any problems with the others - his bullying days were ended. Against generalizations, Crash was very cuddly and loved to be loved on around his head and under the wings. He really enjoyed training when it was short flights or simple cues to wave or spin. I felt overall Crash’s personality was ornery to put it best. I felt he was crabby about things a lot but it most likely had most to do with the situations he faced - he’d probably be a lot different in personality if he was never bullied by those blue and gold macaws.

 Photo by Dave Location: Musha Cay, Bahamas My eyeballs: Blue and gold macaws "Jersey" & "Chayko"

I’ve always agreed with the sweet temperaments of blue and gold macaws; I’ve always seen that in them unless they were abused in some way and had become untrusting of human contact. Jersey and Chayko were two blue and gold macaws (sister and brother) that we worked with for years before selling them to David Copperfield to have them live out on his islands (he owns 11) in Musha Cay. They were raised together and like our 60-40 rule, Jersey was Dave’s 60 and my 40, while Chayko was my 60 and Dave’s 40. They performed with us in Saipan nightly and loved doing the shows. When I decided to surprise my mom for mother’s day by flying back to the states and had a replacement in the show, it meant Chayko was out of the show and he was very upset with this arrangement. He was actually so upset by it (he knew his music and cues) that we put him backstage as if he was going to appear with me in his “spot” so that he wouldn’t feel left out. Then after the show Dave would grab him and put him away. Though the first night we did this he flew off his spot after waiting and waiting for me to grab him to appear with him, he knew we missed the cue and felt I was being unprofessional... ;) so he was going to find me or the stage, whichever came first! Eventually he got the idea but it was very good for me to see how much he liked show business. Chayko was much more of a “boy”. He liked to play and was just overall more playful of a bird than his sister Jersey who was a complete “gentle girl”. She acted like she was fragile, and would lay still for you to do anything - a very trusting bird and barely ever angered by anything (except maybe Chayko, but even then she was damn tolerant!) Not much bothered Jersey, ever. She tolerated pretty much anything and anyone could hold her. She is the most mellow blue and gold macaw I’ve met to this day and only started to come out of her mellow shell after her brother passed away on the island. We weren’t there for it but they keep us updated with how they’re doing. I really love blue and golds over all for their easy tempers and feel that naturally things are working in the right direction for a sweet tempered bird.

Photo by Dave Location: Waynesboro, VA Flocking together: Camelot macaws "Comet" & "Tusa"

Tusa and Comet were my first experiences with Camelot Macaws. I had been around hybrid macaws before, but not camelots and I have to admit... that first night they showed up I was nervous! They were lunging and fearful of their new surroundings and I thought... man, everything people say about scarlet macaws must be true and these guys are 2 part scarlet, one part blue and gold. What have we done?! But that initial part was over very soon and we began raising our two boys who in personality were becoming different. Even though Comet is the eldest, he acts like the baby brother. We’ve wondered if he’s a bit slow because everything he does it a bit slower and we wondered if it was from getting all the recessive genes (he is so beautifully yellow while Tusa is more blue/green dominant) Tusa is the peacekeeper like I said before. He acts like the oldest, even though he is the middle child of our macaws (Jinx is the youngest)... and keeps everyone in line. He is the first to stick up for them, first to the front of the pack, and making sure no one is getting picked on. He is all about business and likes to train and work and be the best of the flock. He can either be our most reliable bird for training, or the most unreliable depending on his mood. Sometimes he gets very independent and wants to be off alone (he was the first to fly into a tree outdoors and stay there a while) and he will be the first to take long flights outdoors before the others. Indoors he will be the first to arrive when you give the cue, yet with trick training he struggles to learn something as simple as the “wave”. Comet will get the wave no problem, surprise you on flights and loves to just be right at my side feeling my side against his side. He acts like a total baby and gets mad if he feels like you’re telling him what to do and when, rather than asking. He’s very respect-based (as all birds really are, but Comet is obvious about it!) Tusa is less tolerant about being played with unless he is in the mood, and then he only really likes to play with his brother. Comet likes to play almost all the time and I roll him over and dog pile them all as a way to play, which is something I’ve done since they were little. Overall I feel like they’re much more of the “nippy scarlet” that is talked about so much... and that can be redirected with raising them right and not reinforcing biting. Just like with any parrot.

 Photo by Dave Location: Waynesboro, VA Together: Blue throated macaws "Bonnie" and "Jinx"

My favorite. Honestly. These are great freeflight candidate birds too if you want a macaw but nothing as big as a green wing, hyacinth or even scarlet. A blue throated macaw is a great size for a macaw... they’re even smaller than militaries but larger than the mini macaws. I think a lot of why I love them so much is the breeder we got Jinx from is just amazing with her birds. She spends so much time with them that they already eat organic, love fruits and veggies and healthy grains and roll on their backs, tolerate playing in blankets and being wrapped in towels, and are just all around sweet. As long as, again, you’re raising them properly, these birds will turn out amazing as naturally everything is lined up darn well. They can get pissy like any bird or human for that matter, but it’s usually provoked by what you’re doing, their mood or illness. Jinx can easily be annoyed by stuff, and I’m the type of person that if I see you’re annoyed I like to annoy you more until you just snap out of it. Sometimes I tend to do that to my birds, and I recently uploaded a video where Jinx is all pissy and coming after my boots and I keep rolling him over  in my defense and then finally he gives in and I start loving on him and he lays there, fluffing up and loving it too. That’s kind of how I just work with birds. Everyone is different. (Note: I’m not recommending you annoy your bird or spouse until they get over their problem! Hahaha...) I’m gonna end this blog entry there as it’s really long, and maybe this can be an ongoing topic with other macaws I’ve been around as well. For now, I think this section will do!

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.

1 comment

JB

Great blog entry. My blue and gold is exactly as you describe them here. Would love to find a rescue blue throat but may have to look for awhile because they are so uncommon here in New England…but I do know where there is a military so I’m reading everything I can find. :-)

JB

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