Banging cheeks against the bars


New member
Jul 21, 2021
Northern US
B&G Macaw
Hi. First time posting from a first time parrot owner. We recently got a baby Blue & Gold Macaw (roughly 5 months old). She is eating solid food and was hand-fed by a very experienced exotic bird store.

She is very friendly and loves people. We have her out of her cage for about 1-2 hours a day, and she is learning some tricks. Her cage is 5'x5'x6'(tall), 5 perches, 2 foraging toys and 2 or three other toys.

Recently, she's been climbing the sides of the cage near us and putting her beak on the bars all the way to her cheeks, and will do a sort of suckling motion. Sometimes it's so violent that it shakes the cage. We figured it for "baby" behavior and ignored her when she did it, and praised her when she didn't (positive reinforcement), as we've been taught. However, her cheeks are now getting red from the behavior, and I really don't want her to injure herself.

Has anyone encountered similar behaviors, and how did you resolve it?



  • Penny - 5 Months.jpg
    Penny - 5 Months.jpg
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Well-known member
Jun 19, 2021
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Budgerigar (Bud), Pacific Parrotlet (Sam), Roseicollis lovebird (BJ and Turq), Linneolated parakeet (Charlie and Emma)
Welcome Nashmite!

Having a blue/gold Macaw (here we call them "Caninde") as a first, it is quite brave, congratulations!

These birds can be a real challenge as many big parrots have the same level of inteligence of a five year old child!!

I have not personal experience with macaws but I think I have just overcome the same issue you are having. In my case I am talking about the smallest possible parrot, the pacific parrotlet! Yes I see the irony, from one of the biggest parrots to the smallest of them, nevertheless giving the scaling the problem is the same.

My young parrotlet was hand raised by me and when the time came for him to leave the nestbox to a cage he started to explore the cage pretty much like your macaw. He is so friendly and so interested in the surroundings that he cannot wait to be freed and try to pass his head between the bars. Of course the head could not pass, but the beak went through all the way to his cheeks.

Immediately I changed the cage for another with narrower bars and the problem solved entirely. The new cage has bars so close to each other that could easily be used to keep a hamster!!:D:D

I saw the picture you kindly put in your post and could observe the space between the bars seems to be too wide. Almost an invitation to put the head through them to have a better look of the surroundings.

My advice would be to try to narrow the gap between the bars, maybe putting another metalic mesh over the cage bars... Any other attempt that might be overcomed by a clever bird will be futile, as I said before, macaws are extremely inteligent and might even have fun to learn how to overcome obstacles that prevent them to explore the outside cage space.

Maybe the fellows here can come up with a better suggestion, as I said before I have not had macaws so far...

Good luck!

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