Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands Twins: Blue and Gold Macaws "Jersey" and "Chayko"
For two years I trained two blue and gold macaws (received at the age of 6 months old) named Jersey (female) and Chayko (male) who were brother and sister. When they were around two years old is when I had my first experience where they actually ganged up on me. I never thought of parrots doing that but now I know better… Here’s the story: Both macaws were out playing on a play stand when Chayko wouldn’t stop getting into trouble by coaxing my toucan, Fiji. I couldn’t seem to tear him away from agitating her and became frustrated. I’ve had birds stop training altogether because they can sense my frustration when they just aren’t getting it – and we’ve all heard about how birds (among many other animals) can sense fear in people and act upon it. The truth is they can sense all our emotions; excitement, frustration, fear – everything. That day both Chayko and Jersey sensed my frustration and when I went to remove Jersey from the situation so I could handle Chayko easier without distraction, she lunged at me as if my “battle” was with her, too. I hollered for Dave because I knew he wouldn’t believe me unless he saw it with his own two eyes. He laughed as he saw the way both macaws were being with me. Luckily, hearing him laugh eased my own emotions and I became happy and care-free again. I reached for Chayko and he gladly stepped up and Jersey was happy to be pet again. This experience made me realize how important our own feelings are when we are working with any animal – and especially parrots. So ‘happy training’ (literally) or else!
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.