Macaws can live for 70–80 years in captivity. Since you’ll be spending so many years of your life with your Macaw, it’s vital to establish trust and a loving bond as early as possible. Macaws are social, friendly animals. For the most part, forming a bond with them simply entails spending as much quality time with them as possible. Some Macaws may be easy to bond with right away, though others may take a bit longer — it depends on the individual.
That said, there are a few proven methods to help cement your bond with your Macaw and make it all the stronger. Indeed, forming a bond with your bird is imperative to having a close lifelong relationship. Here are eight proven tips to help you achieve just that!
1. Forging the initial bond
When you first bring your Macaw home, it’s important to begin the bonding process slowly. Your bird will likely be afraid and will need time to get accustomed to their new environment. You must try and handle your bird gently and for small periods of time at first, to establish trust. Begin by gently scratching their head, stroking their feathers, and touching their feet, and only attempt to hold them after a few days of this routine. Forging this initial bond slowly is essential to establishing trust for the rest of your relationship with your Macaw.
2. Time outside their cage
Once your Macaw is happily letting you pet them, you can leave the cage door open and call them out to spend time outside. At this point, their cage will be their safe haven, so if they willingly come outside, it shows that they are establishing trust with you. Spend around 20 minutes playing with them, petting them, or giving them healthy snacks, and continue this routine every day.
It’s a good idea to establish a routine with your Macaw. Try to let them outside their cage to play at the same time every day, feed them at the same time every day, and even train them at the same time every day. Your bird will love the routine, and this will help establish trust because you’ll arrive for every activity at a time that they learn to expect you to.
Once your Macaw has begun to trust you and comes to you willingly, you can introduce them to the rest of your family! Make sure everyone is quiet and calm, and they can offer your bird treats, talk to them, and even pet them if they seem welcoming enough. This will help your Macaw become used to new faces but still see you as their primary caregiver.
5. Quality time
Aside from training, you’ll want to spend as much quality time with your Macaw as possible — this is the reason that you brought them home, after all! Regular interaction with your bird is the best way to earn their trust and cement the bond into a lifelong friendship. Try playing games with your Macaw, teach them tricks, offer them treats, hold them and place them on your shoulder, and keep their cage where they can see you.
In the wild, Macaws live in small flocks and family units, where they often share meals. You’ll want to establish yourself as a member of this flock, and one of the best ways is to share meals with your bird too. Grab a plate of fresh fruit, and offer a few pieces to your Macaw in their bowl, making sure they can see you eating it too. Offering them food by hand will also quickly help establish trust and help them view you as a valued member of their flock!
Grooming is another activity that parrots share in their flocks, and in the wild, Macaws are almost constantly grooming each other. Try gently rubbing their beaks, scratching the nape of their necks and chest, or helping them remove loose pinfeathers. Macaws also need regular nail trimming, and this is another aspect of grooming that you’ll need to establish their trust in order to perform properly.
8. Talk to your Macaw
Macaws are vocal animals that communicate with one another in the wild through various calls and vocalizations, and talking with your Macaw every day will establish you as a part of the flock. Try to gently speak to them whenever you walk past their cage, repeat words and phrases to them, like their name, and whistle tunes to them. It may feel a bit strange at first, but your Macaw will love it, and you’ll slowly teach them to say a few words and phrases at the same time.
Since you’ll be spending so many years in the company of your Macaw, establishing a strong bond is vital. Spending as much quality time with them as possible is the best way to forge this bond, and it will make them all the happier and more content. Establishing a routine, sharing meals, and regular grooming are also great ways to establish trust.
Featured Image Credit: Karl Dean Anderson, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.