I have rescued 2 macaws…a blue and gold, Scooter. And a ruby, Rio. I don’t know a lot about Their history. Their momma died and her husband kept them for 6 years after she passed. They were kept in separate cages all the time. Not handled and the room was dark. A couple i know adopted them and put them in a room. They were told that Rio would kill Scooter but they got out of their cages and started hanging together. Again they were kept in the dark to keep them quiet. So now I have them . they haven’t been handled in 7 and a half years. I have had them a little over a month and they were doing really good until the past week. Rio is starting to bully Scooter. Today he pulled a tail feather out and We had to staunch the blood. So now i have them in separate cages. Up until now I have allowed them to be free in the house. How do I go about doing this separation as stress free as possible
Welcome to the forum. Now, please do not take this the wrong way because it’s not said in the spirit of judgment or criticism but to explain - I am afraid that you went about it exactly the wrong way. Let me elaborate. Parrots go through a period that we call ‘the honeymoon’ after they are rehomed. During this time [which can last from one to three months, depending on the bird as well as the previous and current circumstances], they are on their best behavior BUT once they start feeling more comfortable, they start showing their true colors or reacting to things that are brand new to them. The key is to keep the new bird in a cage for a couple of weeks, allowing it to learn the routines and to get used to its new home, human, other parrots, etc in the ‘safety’ of their cage [this ‘safety’ is both for them and the other occupants]. You can let them out during this time but always for a short period of time [best to do it at noon], on their own and VERY closely supervised. Introduction to other birds needs to be done VERY gradually and VERY slowly. Let me give you an example, when I first bring a new bird that will live cage-free in the parrot room, I start by putting their cage in my living room or dining room and only allowing them out as I explained before after 5 days to a week [it depends on the individual bird]. This goes on for about two weeks. Then I allow the bird to come out for as long as the other birds [from 6:30 am to about 1:30 pm] for another week or two. Then I start bringing it into the parrot room at noon for about 5 minutes for about a week, then for longer, then early in the morning while I am cleaning, feeding, etc the other birds - etc etc. It takes, at least, 3 months, if not more, for the new bird to ‘socialize’ with the others on its own.Parrots are creatures of habit and dislike change so everything with them takes a LOOOOOOONG time because, if you rush things, you end up with the wrong reaction. With these birds ‘history’ of being separated, kept in the dark, not handled, etc. it’s even more necessary than with a well-adjusted, well-loved bird.So, my advice to you is to scrap everything that you have done and go back to square one. Put them back in their cages and leave the cages separated by enough space so they cannot reach the her by stretching. Work with them separatedly getting them used to you, establish a super strict routine where you do exactly the same thing every single day at the same time, make sure you put them in a stric solar schedule because, although macaws are low hormone birds, you don’t want to deal with a beak that large in an overly-hormonal bird. Once the birds have gotten used to you and the new routine [and this will take weeks] and you see that they have gotten used to the presence of the other bird to the point that there is no overt aggression, you can move the cages closer and, in another week or so, start allowing them to come out at the same time [again, I recommend you do this at noon which is their calmest time of the day]. During this time, you should not handle them, you should just supervise them very closely and interact with them in a non-physical way. Once you see that they are getting along [the pace is not even, it will seeem, at times, that they are taking one step back to their improvement but this is normal], you can start letting them out early in the morning, before they get their breakfast [macaws are late risers and usually wait an hour or so after the sky is lit to eat their breakfast] and watch them to see what they do. Taking in birds that belonged to somebody else requires a completely different approach from getting a baby or even a single bird… You need to follow a plan, learn their body language and vocalizations as well as their individual quirks, likes and dislikes before you start integrating them to the ‘family’. You also need a lot of patience because, like I said, with parrots, nothing is a 1-2-3… everything is a 1-2-3-4-5… all the way to 100
i wasnt actually the one that put them together…the couple i got them from had them together (the owner THEY got them from kept them separate) and said they were "bonded"…at this time i really cant handle either of them. they are very very aggressive. they will take treats from my hand but that is the extent of it. i will do as you recommended. It doesnt help that during this time we are in the process of moving, so i dont have a space set up to keep their cages apart. we will be moving next month. when we do i will have a play room just for them. thank you so much for your help!!!
If they take treats from your hand, start target training them separately but for only 5 minutes at a time and not more than twice a day [you don’t want to establish a relationship that is only one of training and nothing else] in the middle of the day. For this to work, you can’t free-feed them protein food [pellets, nuts, seeds, avicakes, nutriberries] because you would need to identify a ‘high value item’ which is ALWAYS a high protein food item [parrots can ‘work’ without a food reward but that implies the parrot highly valuing your praise or good regard - meaning a deep bond of love]. In order to identify this high value item, put out three of four kinds of nuts -like one almond, half a walnut, a pistachio, etc] in a row in front of each of them and watch to see which one they choose 2 out of 3 times or 3 out of 4 times and use it ONLY as a reward.
pistachio are the nut of choice with both birds…after separating them we are all making progress. baby steps. kept them caged separately for a week. during that time Rio (the ruby) has decided it is cool for me to pet his head. and today is the first day to let one of them out. Scooter will actually let me pet him as long as i approach him from behind or he has something to hold ( a perch) however getting him back in his cage is proving to be a problem lol