For many people, their first glimpse into the wonderful world of macaws comes from an encounter with the popular Blue and Gold Macaw, Ara ararauna.
One of the large macaws, the average Blue and Gold Macaw measures between 32 and 35 inches long, including its tail, with a three-and-a-half-foot wingspan. They usually weigh between 900 and 1200 grams.
No one wasted a lot of imagination naming this macaw: The predominate colors are an iridescent turquoise blue on the back and tail, shading into a rich cobalt blue on the wings, with gold on the belly and underside of the tail and flight feathers. The crown of the head is a rich emerald green, the beak black, and the feathers on the distinctive bare white facial patch are black.
These birds now breed readily in captivity and they are increasingly popular in the pet trade. As always, with large parrots, they are not the best choice for everyone. They require a large, strong cage as well as a sizable play stand. Their normal voices are loud, and they do not do well as apartment or dorm room pets. They are also messy, tossing food about as parrots will do, and if not properly trained and guided for the first few years and throughout their lives, they can and will inflict serious bites.
However, they enjoy one of the best reputations as pets among the Macaw family. Although it isn’t a good idea to generalize, many Blue and Gold owners mention how much they enjoy their macaws’ impish behavior, acrobatic skills, talking ability, and general playfulness. They are often clowns who seem to enjoy making their owners laugh, and simply becoming part of a human “flock.”
These macaws, like all large parrots, require lots of wood to chew on and will not distinguish between your house’s trim and a piece of two by four, so make sure they have a ready supply of chewing toys. Macaws need more fat in their diet than most parrots, and mixed nuts in the shell are a favorite treat that helps supply this need. Most macaw owners also offer their Blue and Golds a variety of foods including pellets, a high-quality seed mix, various bean, and pasta mixes and bird bread, fresh vegetables, fruit, and healthy human foods from the dinner table.
With care, these birds may live a human life span, so plan accordingly. A Blue and Gold can be a pet for life, but it will require a lot of its owner, who can expect a clever lifetime companion in return.