Big Beak O Phobes Guide to Understanding Macaw Beaks...

OP
Birdman666

Birdman666

New member
Sep 18, 2013
9,866
18
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #42
Well this is geared towards macaw behaviors. CAGS are different.

CAGS are stubborn and opinionated. They need to have their boundaries expanded upon...

Macaws are naturally exuberant. They need to be reigned in a bit.

Push it with a Macaw, as long as you turn it into a game, you're fine. You can do this all day.

Push it with a CAG and you trigger that stubborn streak, and they plant both feet, and just refuse to go along with the program, and they have a beak like a scissors. Keep pushing and they might use it. If he gets frustrated, and that little white face turns red... yeah. He's mad!

My macs NEVER draw blood. The only bird that will occasionally nail me is my CAG.

With a CAG you just gradually get them to accept things. Then you expand what they accept. And each time they accept new things, it gets easier for them to accept more new things. (Particularly if there are head scratches and favorite treats involved. Especially if it's a treat he can't resist. Don't want it? Okay. I'll take it back. Do the behavior get a treat. SEE YOU DIDN'T DIE FROM IT! IT'S OKAY. IT'S NOT GONNA HURT YOU. GOOD BIRD!!! HERE IS YOUR TREAT!!!)

You respect a CAG's boundaries, or they will nail you, BUT you also broaden those boundaries as you work with them until THEY decide to open up to you.

MACS are open wide pretty much from the get go. Pick me up. Flip me over. Pay attention to me!!! OKAY, CALM DOWN. YOU'RE TOO EXCITED. THAT'S TOO HARD. NO YOU CAN'T HAVE THAT. NO, GET OFF OF THERE. NO. GO BACK. NO CHEWING ON EARS. NO CHEWING ON THE FURNITURE EITHER...

It's different. Big macs are the most "toddler like" of the bunch. (Toos being a close second.)
 

promethuschow

Member
Mar 17, 2017
57
0
Queens, NYC
Parrots
CAG, GCC, Mynha
I read your post "Big Beak O Phobes Guide to Understanding Macaw Beaks" line by line it's darn pretty good:). Do you think you will have a in-depth right up for Red Fronted Macaw since you own one. I have a friend who is really interested to have a RFM or can I have a little write up from you about RF so that I can share it with him.

Thank you so much for your help and the commitment towards us to understand our parrots better.
 
OP
Birdman666

Birdman666

New member
Sep 18, 2013
9,866
18
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #45
Read Wendy's guide to RFM's... it's spot on... I guess she's retired now. I couldn't find it. I know she was moving and scaling way back...

Bluntly.... RFM's are one of the easiest macaws in the world to work with. They are very trusting. I would classify them as a shy or coy hyacinth in a smaller body... they are AMAZING fliers. They will pretty much go to anyone who plays with them and handles them... They are super social.

They're mush macs.
 
Last edited:
OP
Birdman666

Birdman666

New member
Sep 18, 2013
9,866
18
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #46
Thank you! This slightly helped my fear with the big macaws!

If you have a sun conure. You have a tiny macaw. Their natures are very similar. Just scale it up a foot or two and a few hundred grams...
 

trimblegirls

New member
Dec 30, 2016
183
1
Northern CA
Parrots
Green Cheek Conure:Tillie and an African Grey: Jasper
Thank you for this post. It's helped a lot. I don't look at Lulu's pinches as she's trying to bite me more like she's trying to communicate with me. I think it makes me less afraid of her big beak. If she really wanted to bite me, I could be missing some flesh or a finger. My favorite macaw communication is when she purrs. :)
 

ChristaNL

Banned
May 23, 2018
3,559
109
NL= the Netherlands, Europe
Parrots
Sunny a female B&G macaw;
Japie (m) & Appie (f), both are congo african grey;
All are rescues- had to leave their previous homes for 'reasons', are still in contact with them :)
:heart: I haven't said "thank you" yet- but this has really been helpfull!



Having been raised by an african grey I was *so* not prepared for the utter macawiness.
(Despite reading up on them till the bits and bites came out of my ears.)
It really is a different planet.

I do not mind the beak- I do mind the way mine is using it!
So thank you for the nudges in the right direction.

Still not doing great here (or maybe I am? I have nothing to compare it to ;) ) but we are getting to the point where I no longer need to break out the bandaids to patch holes.
(though I still look like I ran into an extremely grumpy cactus and a rather malignant doorpost).

(Apart from buzzards and herons etc.) I have not really been working with birds that can grab half a forearm in their beaks, so that took some getting used to...
(and those guys do not really count when it comes to putting on pressure).


When my B&G is cute she is utterly adorable, but there are moments I still want a good recipe for macaw-a-l'orange of maybe just exotic-:39:-soup.
(and I have to re-read this sticky for a bit)
 
Last edited:

Spirbuaw1

New member
Oct 3, 2018
6
Media
1
0
Cheney
Parrots
1 male Buffon macaw named Stan, approximately 19 years old, 1 female Ecuadorian Buffon macaw named Wendy, any where between 12-15 years old and one adorable male ekkie named McGee, 11, years old
Great little article,,,I knew about the head snake movement because my female Ecuadorian Buffon does it and when I did it back,,,oh my the happy noises I got so I said hey self, a good idea is a good idea, but it’s reassuring and gives me confidence that I’m listening to both my buffons body language,,,,and bonding with your macaw like this is wonderful my male will climb out of his cage walk over to me and roll over for a tummy rub like a dog, and he started doing this when he felt secure, and body language is part of that,,,me, myself I LUV THE BIG HOOK BILLS 😂
 
OP
Birdman666

Birdman666

New member
Sep 18, 2013
9,866
18
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #50
Yep. There is nothing more amazing than a mush mac...
 

Rosieroo

New member
Apr 28, 2020
2
0
Thank you this is so helpful! Do to an emergency situation with the rescue I volunteer for, my first bird is a green wing macaw with a lot of trust/confidence issues. I have since learned that she will use her beak to help step up but me acting nervous with her the first couple weeks definitely caused her to start bullying me!
Do you have any advice for what I should do when she starts lunging with some extreme eye pinning? Either she’s really happy, excited, or angry. I can’t tell!
 

SailBoat

Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
15,024
1,782
Western, Michigan
Parrots
DYH Amazon
Thank you this is so helpful! Do to an emergency situation with the rescue I volunteer for, my first bird is a green wing macaw with a lot of trust/confidence issues. I have since learned that she will use her beak to help step up but me acting nervous with her the first couple weeks definitely caused her to start bullying me!
Do you have any advice for what I should do when she starts lunging with some extreme eye pinning? Either she’s really happy, excited, or angry. I can’t tell!

Or bluffing???
Birdman666 does visit from time to time and you could always PM him. NOTE: You will need the help of a Mod to contact Birdman, they are the ones in Purple!
 

ChristeyHawk

New member
Jul 27, 2020
6
0
NorCal
Parrots
Toby, a 20 year old Green Winged Macaw
Wow, this is great info! So, once you've done all the wrong things how difficult is it to convince your GW macaw that you aren't intimidated...(when you actually are)?
 

SailBoat

Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
15,024
1,782
Western, Michigan
Parrots
DYH Amazon
Wow, this is great info! So, once you've done all the wrong things how difficult is it to convince your GW macaw that you aren't intimidated...(when you actually are)?

The reality of Parrots is that they have a Beak and know how to us it!
I would recommend that you re-read this Thread as to my understanding it provides not only understand the reality, but also methods of working with one's Mac.

The larger Mac's are well aware of their size, especially their beaks. They can quickly tie into our emotions and therefore become aware of our fear(s).

I strongly believe in the process of the Parrot choosing in place of Humans choosing! This due to the much higher likelihood of the Parrot wanting a relationship.

Can one start over from where you are currently, YES! It requires a resetting of the relationship with the Human providing a reason for the Parrot to trust the Human. Only good things happen when the human is around.

Yes, tons more, but the point is, a fresh start is very possible.
 

fiddlejen

Supporting Member
Mar 28, 2019
1,157
Media
11
761
New England
Parrots
Sunny the Sun Conure (sept '18, gotcha 3/'19). Mr Jefferson Budgie & Mrs Calliope Budgie (albino) (nov'18 & jan'19). Summer 2021 Baby Budgies: Riker (Green); Patchouli, Keye, & Tiny (blue greywings).
Wow, this is great info! So, once you've done all the wrong things how difficult is it to convince your GW macaw that you aren't intimidated...(when you actually are)?

Animals see the truth. So, the way to convince your GW macaw - or any kind of bird - that you are not intimidated, is to actually BE not intimidated.

Easier said than done right? Maybe or maybe not. REALity is, you are the one in control of the relationship. YOU have the keys to the house and the latch to the cage. YOU are the one who can freely choose to move closer or further away.

Knowing that reality, knowing that for love of her you are then Choosing to cede control back to her (as much as possible), will help solidify your non-intimidation.
 

SweetPeasFriend

New member
Jun 25, 2012
82
Media
5
0
Parrots
Parent's have, I baby sit a blue crown conure.
My husband and I adopted a rescue blue and gold macaw.
I think a quick attack tap may mean stop it. Our new rescue told me "stop it," after she did that. I am slowly passing her tests. I am fairly sure she may be thinking of warning me when she blushes alot after this too.
 

OrrinocosMom

Member
Jul 29, 2021
14
Media
4
Albums
1
45
New England
Parrots
Orrinoco The Pirate
I wrote most of this as a response to another thread, but felt it deserved its own separate thread, since the subject of how to deal with macaw beaks comes up fairly often.

Most big beak o phobes see a macaw beak coming at them and think, "Holy $#@& that bird's about to bite me!"

While that big beak is occasionally used as a weapon, that's fairly rare. More often than not, it's used to test. To see how you react, what you do, before deciding what they will do next. You can tell a lot about a person by how they react to something unexpected. And THIS could be a determining factor on whether or not, or how, the bird decides to react to you, and interact with you. It could be an invitation to beak wrestle and play... but since you jumped, and/or became defensive, you get the "big bad bird" routine instead.

How can you tell the difference? The correct response to the big bad bird routine, is to counter with a head snaking movement of your own, while making your eyes really big. Aside from making you appear like an idiot to any humans who are casually observing this, it sends the correct message to the bird. I didn't come to fight. I came to see if you wanted to play. Usually they'll start doing the macaw head snake/happy head bob, excitement thing at that point, and this is an indication that the bird has accepted your invitation to play. (It's also an indication that he's now wound up. Always carefully gauge how wound up he is, before offering an arm. Overstimulated birds sometimes don't control their bite pressure very well.) If the bird is still acting piss-ey at that point, then the correct response is to use the palm of your hand on a closed bent fist, and just nonchalantly push the beak away when he lunges. The message that sends is (1) I am not intimidated or afraid of you, and (2) knock it off! Then just walk away and ignore the bird for awhile. (Because the worst possible thing you can do to a macaw psychologically is to ignore it!)

It can be used as a territorial warning as well. Diving against the bar of the cage, for example, doesn't necessarily mean the bird doesn't like you. It usually means the bird is either cage bound or cage territorial. Once in awhile, it's "Hey buddy, I live here. Respect my space. You're too close to my nest." (With my greenwing it generally means "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ACTUALLY CLOSED THE DOOR ON ME!")

When you think of a macaw beak, you have to think of it as a multi-purpose tool.

It's primarily a third hand used for climbing (and that sometimes includes climbing onto an arm to step up.)

It can be used as a crow bar to pry things loose.

The sharp point on the end of it can puncture and slice things open. (Fruits primarily, but flesh if you're careless, or push your luck.)

It is used to test the strength of things before stepping on them. Including arms. He just wanted to make sure you wouldn't pull away when he went to step up. And you did, so he grabbed you, and made sure you couldn't. That isn't a bite. That's you NOT HOLDING STILL... A macaw is not going to risk "doing the splits" just because you get nervous. (He will simply refuse to cooperate at that point. That's a double whammy, because if this happens too often, you reinforce the notion that, he then can pick and choose when he feels like cooperating. Behavior problems usually follow that line of thought. "No. I don't wanna. Let's see you try and make me." (Gulp!)

The beak is also used as a vice grip pliers to hold onto things, and a pry them open. And it's used to crack and crush things like nut shells... (or fingers that are someplace they are not supposed to be and/or are annoying us.) Or, in the case of a misbehaving bird, "I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK...I DON'T WANT TO COME DOWN."

The "beakier" macaws are generally just especially coordinated with their beaks, and tend to use the beaks as a first option, before they use their feet. The beakier macaws also tend to be "a tad" less patient, so when you "argue" with them, while they're putting their beaks on you, they tend to be a little more forceful about it.

(Yeah, don't try pulling your arm away from a buffons or a scarlett after asking him to step up. Cuz they'll grab your arm first with their beak, and hold it steady while they step up... how hard they have to hold it to keep it steady, is completely up to you.) In fact, if a buffons sees you doing that to him, his face will likely turn bright red the second you pull away. That most definitely does not mean he's happy to see you. (That would be a blue throat or a red front with a face turning red.) When a military or a buffons face turns red - Watch out! "THE Volcano is about to blow it's top!

And beaky big macs are more likely to use their beaks to communicate:

Pinch! Hey, I like that. Share some of that stuff you're eating with me.

Pinch! Let's go outside for a walk.

Pinch! I don't like that scarey thing. Don't you see how scarey that is? Pinch, get away from it. Can't you tell I'm trying to protect you?

Pinch! Pay some attention to me.

Pinch! Not now. I'm not interested.

HARD PINCH and/or BLOOD DRAW: What part of NOT NOW didn't you understand?! Can't you take a hint?! Must I draw blood to make my point?!
THAAANK you! Great info, great parrot humor!
 

Most Reactions

Top