Adopting a nippy macaw


New member
Jun 23, 2023
To provide you guys with some background, my dad is looking to adopt a blue and gold macaw. He owned macaws many years ago and has experience with them where I do not. I have been assisting him with finding a bird to adopt and have volunteered at a parrot refuge for multiple days. They have about 10 macaws there, and this weekend he is supposed to come with me to potentially pick one to adopt. The refuge is over an hour away, and I am concerned about the behavior of some of the macaws. I know all birds bite at some point, but i get the impression that these birds have been left in their cages for years and hardly been handled. The lady who runs it cannot get most of the macaws out of the cage because they will attempt to bite her or seem very afraid and frazzled at her even opening the door of the cage. I’m wondering if this behavior can be improved if they are adopted, or if I should steer clear of this refuge completely. She claims that the reason is because they are “cage territorial” but I feel that they are untame due to little to no human interaction. At the same time, I have only owned small birds and don’t have macaw experience, so I was wondering if this is normal for macaws. She claims that they are very friendly and snuggly once out of the cage … I havent been able to witness that though because she can’t or doesn’t try to get them out.
Let me know your thoughts, if I should steer clear or this refuge or give one of these birds a chance and bring my dad to meet them.


Staff member
Super Moderator
Apr 24, 2018
Maine, USA
Tucker the Red Sided Eclectus
Baxter the YNA
Avery the CAG
Patches the Grand Eclectus, my best friend. RIP
Cuckoo the BFA RIP
Welcome to the Forums @snoopycoco and thank you for helping your dad, and volunteering at a rescue!

Just my two cents. I'm a huge fan of rescues. Soooooo many birds out there who deserve the chance for a better life. Sounds to me like this woman has just bitten off a little more than she can chew. Not the birds' fault. Perhaps bring dad to meet these birds and see if any of them choose him, rather than the other way around. They're so much better at it than humans are! :)

I don't have mac experience, but my understanding is that they tend to lead with their beak. They know it's big, strong, and intimidating, and like to test you. Maybe this lady is afraid of those big beaks when they test her? Not saying that they won't bite if you do something they don't want, but it's something to consider. Your dad has experience with macs, so he's likely to have a better idea once he meets them. Good luck, and I hope you'll update us on how it goes :)
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Staff member
Super Moderator
Parrot of the Month 🏆
Nov 22, 2015
Isle of Long, NY
Yellow Shoulder Amazon, Salty
Welcome and be welcomed!

My friend, please go to our Macaw sub-forum, and read all the stickies at the top of the page, by birdman666, our resident Macaw guru. IN fact, use the search feature and read all his posts too. Super Duper good information!

Saxguy is so right - parrots are much better at picking out a human then we are at picking out a parrot. If you find one that picks you or your Dad, you will so much better off and ahead of the curve!


Well-known member
May 29, 2015
New Jersey
Max (23yo) Blue and Gold Macaw,
PRIMOR (8yo) Red Lored Amazon,
ABBA (33yo) Red Lored Amazon - RIP
Good luck, I hope he finds a great companion.


May 31, 2020
San Juan Cosala, MX
Mealy Amazon - George
Double Yellowhead - Fred
Maximilian's Pionus - Pancho
Blue Ringneck - Kramer
Military Macaw - Abulardo
Red-Lored Amazon - Lucy
Most of my birds are rescues and three do like like being touched at all. I pretty much leave them be and care for them on their own terms. I offer treats by hand and respect their boundaries. Now, after three years, my mealy Amazon will gladly step up and totally trust me. My pionus is an old bird so I let him be him. My Military would sooner rip my arm off than step up on me or even a perch. He has only been with me a couple months so I hope that will change over time. I try not to push things and let them move at their own pace.

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