Blue and Gold/Yellow Macaws are probably the most popular large Macaws kept as pets.
Blue and Gold's are said to be more sociable, calm, and friendly on average than some of the other Macaws.
They are known to have one of the best personalities in general out of all the large Macaws. They make wonderful companions and are intelligent, eager to learn, affectionate, and one of the better talkers of the Macaws as well.
However, like all large Macaws, if not properly raised and handled well, Blue and Gold's can become aggressive birds. For this reason, they are best for experienced bird owners. You need to establish stiff boundaries with Blue and Gold's right when you bring them home. Otherwise, they will learn to scream, bite, or manipulate you in order to suit their needs.
Blue and Gold's are known for being very intelligent and social (when raised correctly). They are definitely trainable--they aren't the best mimics, but you can teach them to talk and learn tricks fairly easily.
Many bird owners are intimidated by the Blue and Gold's strong will and large beak. Their beaks are very strong--one bite can lead you to the emergency room. These birds are not good for first-time bird owners.
To read more about Macaws as pets, please visit our Macaw page.
If you are an experienced bird owner and are prepared to handle bites from a large beak, sometimes replacing toys every week, spending a lot of time with your bird, training your bird to keep his mind active, and spending a lot of time setting clear boundaries, then this might be the right bird for you.
The Blue-and-Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna, Linnaeus 1758) is a member of the genus Ara (Lacepede 1799), one of six genera of Central and South American macaws. Protonym: Psittacus ararauna. The species name is derived from Tupi Ara onamatopoeia macao: macaw; Tupi arara: parrot +una: dark or black, hence "dark parrot/macaw".
These birds can reach 76 to 86 cm (30 to 34 in) long and weigh 900 to 1500 grams (1.9 to 3.3 lbs), making it one of the larger members of its family. They are vivid in appearance with blue wings and tail, dark blue chin, golden under parts, and a green forehead. Beaks are black. The naked face is white, turning pink in excited birds, and lined with small black feathers.
There is little variation in plumage across the range. Some birds have a more orangey or "butterscotch" underside color, particularly on the breast. This was often seen in Trinidad birds and others of the Caribbean area. The Blue-and-yellow Macaw uses its powerful beak for breaking nutshells, and also for climbing up and hanging from trees.
Macaws in the wild can be very aggressive, but as babies they can be very playful.
Macaws primarily eat nuts, seeds and fruits. Occasionally they consume clay at riverbeds, in order to filter out toxins obtained from any unripe nuts they have consumed.
The Blue-and-yellow Macaw generally mates for life. They nest almost exclusively in dead palms and most nests are in Mauritia flexuosa palms. The female typically lays two or three eggs. The female incubates the eggs for about 28 days. One chick is dominant and gets most of the food; the others perish in the nest. Chicks fledge from the nest about 97 days after hatching. The male bird's color signals readiness for breeding. The brighter and bolder the colors the better the chance of getting a mate is.
This species occurs in Venezuela and south to Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. The range extends slightly into Central America, where it is restricted to Panama. The species' range formerly included Trinidad, but it became extinct there by 1970 as a result of human activities. Between 1999 and 2003, wild caught Blue-and-gold Macaws were translocated from Guyana to Trinidad, in an attempt to reestablish the species in a protected area around Nariva swamp.
The Blue-and-yellow Macaw is on the verge of being extirpated in Paraguay, but it still remains widespread and fairly common in a large part of mainland South America. The species is therefore listed as Least Concern by BirdLife International. It is listed on CITES Appendix II, trade restricted.
Blue-and-yellow Macaws are popular as pets partly because of their striking appearance and ability as a talking bird; however, their large size makes accommodation problematic, and they require much more effort and knowledge from owners than more traditional pets such as dogs or cats. They are intelligent and social, so for someone who can provide for their needs, they make good and loving companion parrots. Blue-and-yellow Macaws bond very closely to their owners.
Even the most well-tended Blue-and-yellow Macaw will "scream" and make other loud noises. Loud vocalizations, especially "flock calls", and destructive chewing are natural parts of their behavior and should be expected in captivity. Due to their large size, they require plentiful space in which to fly. According to World Parrot Trust, an enclosure for a Blue-and-yellow Macaw should not be smaller than 15 metres (50 feet) long.
These birds are very intelligent and can be taught tricks after gaining enough trust from the owners.
They require a varied diet; a seed only diet will lead to health problems such as vitamin deficiency. An example of a good diet would be a quality pelleted mix, in conjunction with a mix featuring seed, nuts, and dried fruits, with fresh vegetables (greens and roots) and fruits fed regularly; furthermore, it is quite common (and appreciated by the parrot) to partake with their human owners of safe foods like pasta, bread, etc.
It is important to avoid foods with high fat content (generally) while striving to provide a wide variety of foods. There are some foods which are toxic to birds and parrots as a group. Cherries and most other Rosaceae pits and seeds, avocados, chocolate, and caffeine are among the foods toxic to parrots. Chocolate and caffeine are not metabolized by birds the same way they are in humans. Rosaceae seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, and avocados contain persin which are both toxic compounds to birds. Safe foods include oranges, apples, grapes, peanuts, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.