Feast, Famine or Forage - the art of being trained by a Mac


New member
Aug 13, 2013
B&G macaw
It's not a huge secret that I'm a pushover, despite my misguided attempts to act like I'm tougher and meaner than I am. Admittedly, it doesn't take much to get me to cave, although my motivation doesn't come in the form of grapes or a half cracked walnut, but rather diamonds and sapphires will get you everything you want. Perhaps that's why macaws are my favorite bird? We both like to bluff our way into and out of any given situation any time the opportunity arises, but we're equally easy to bribe. My stuff just costs more! In any event, it's a unique game to both of us.. a language we can both relate to that no one else can seem to understand.

I'm trying to change my approach with her. Trying to show her that I'm one she can trust and count on, be polite and ask permission instead of forcing her to do something she's not comfortable with yet. About the only time 'Mac tacos' have crossed my mind is during her evening scream-a-thon, which seems to be lasting longer than my last nerve can stay alive. The whole process reminds me of an Ozzy Osbourne concert from 1987. Neither one can really stay on key and I can't understand a darn thing they're saying. The scream is quite familiar though. Maybe the dozens of rock concerts has made me immune to the sound while the rest of the house clutches their ears in agony.

So I decide to cut her off at the pass and get her out to play before the evening festivities begin.

"Step up?" I ask nicely, offering my hand in jest. "No" was pretty much the response that I was immediately given. "You can pet me all you want and I'll beak the snot out of your hand, but no way are we doing this whole step up thing, lady. If that's what you're thinking, you've lost your mind." What she doesn't know is my level of insanity is not only increasing, but also common knowledge amongst the unwashed masses. In fact, mine outranks hers!

I wait a few minutes and try again. This time I'm delivered a rather scathing warning pinch followed by a merry "HI!" and a conceited look of extreme contentment as if she actually got somewhere with that. For a slight moment in time, she's forgotten who she is. She thinks she's a raptor and higher on the food chain than I am. I'm not going to remind her that I'm not the one in a cage. At least not today. Ok. So maybe we don't exactly speak the same language here. Maybe.... just maybe I'M the sane one here and you're the one that's looney tunes!

But I have something she doesn't have. I have a grape! A nice, big, puffy, round delectable grape freshly picked from my own grapevine. And oh boy does she ever want THAT! Her eyes start pinning in excitement as she moves in for the kill. Once again, I offer my hand and ask politely "will you step up, please?" She sits there. It's officially a standoff. I'm not moving. She's not moving. Together, we're not moving. Just a couple of freaking statues hanging out like a pack of idiots in my living room playing the ever popular playground game of 'If you blink, you lose'. I'm sure my neighbors are thoroughly amused. I can almost feel the straight jacket tightening against my chest.

Alright. You win. I'll move first. And just like that, I eat the grape right in front of her very eyes. Now, telepathy isn't one of my strong points, but I'm pretty sure the look on her face started with "You b***h" as she watched me walk away. It was a unique combination of complete anger and utter humiliation as she realized she just blew the one chance she had to eat that particular grape. Now my advantage is the fact that she's unaware that there's more. I'll clue her in on that after she gathers her dignity back. In the meantime, I walked away with a slight chuckle knowing that while she may have won the statue contest, I ended up with the treat for moving.

We're both still feeling each other out here, trying to establish and locate boundaries. It's only been a little over a week since we've made each others' acquaintance, so you'd expect that I'd be relatively happy with the progress that I made. But I'm like a mac. I want more. I want to cuddle her and snuggle her and call her my squishy!

I wait an hour. I don't exactly want to end this day negatively. The voices in my head tell me we'll both sleep better tonight if we can get just one thing right. Her because she'll feel better about this situation and have my grape, and me because I won't have to listen to her scream all evening (hopefully).

I grab another grape off my plate of freshly cut up fruit consisting of honeydew, grapes, watermelon and cantaloupe. I find a deep breath, open the cage door and have a seat. Here we go... Standoff number #2. Ultimately, I'd like her to come out of the cage but if she just puts one talon on my hand, I'll give it to her. We proceed to have a long conversation about how everything you want in life you have to work for. Nothing in life is free, right? I explain to her (in great detail - mind you) about how birds in the wild have to hunt for their food and what I'm asking is just really a small token of appreciation and not a big deal.

She doesn't care.

No, really! I'm not making this up. She seriously doesn't give a rats behind. She's perfectly at ease with the fact that I'm not going to starve her out. (remember what I said about being a softie?)

Turns out she had an agenda.

The phone rings. Just as luck would have it, it's in the kitchen plugged into the charger. I get my happy carcass up and fetch it (throw that on the list of things to teach my mac), take a whopping 5 minutes (if even that) to answer, respond and hang up. I stop and grab a glass of water and proceed back to the abyss that's known as my living insistent on getting through this barrier with her and sending her to bed with at least a single, white grape in her crop. That's all I want today. Just the chance to give her one grape. You would think that would be plausible, given the situation.

Now remember when I said I can't get her out of the cage without force? mean, can grab her by her feet, but that's really a last resort. She kinda hates it when I do that. Yeah.... well... apparently I just need the phone to ring. Upon my return I happened upon the doorway to discover a half raptor/half macaw blissfully gorging her beak off on my plate of tropical fruit! Did I mention I left it on the other side of the room ON THE COUCH? Perhaps I didn't.

I stand there... patiently... waiting for my lungs to re-inflate.


I guess we'll work on this whole stepping up thing tomorrow. She just taught me that some things in life ARE free after all.

Oh. And she can fly.
I didn't think she could fly, but as it turns out, she can fly.


New member
Jul 20, 2012
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! She sure showed you! :D:D

I swear, Gina, this is THE best story I've read all day long. You MUST be a writer, no? And if you aren't, I promise there is money to be made with your beautiful words. :)

Thank you so much for sharing your update with us. AWESOME!!!

So....how's that bowl of fruit on the couch doing? HAHAHAHAHAH.


New member
Aug 13, 2013
B&G macaw
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She certainly did show me. In one fell swoop she managed to strip me of my dignity as well as several other words I can't pronounce.

Training is definitely trial and error. I've been resisting intensive training because I was able to recognize several things that needed to occur first.

I had to change her habitat. She came out of a filthy cage that was 1/3 of the size she needed. She's come to love her new cage. So much, in fact, that she doesn't want to come out of it. Of course, I've filled it with toys and things to do. There's been times I've wanted to crawl in there too.

Then came diet. She was on straight seed. I've eliminated that. I'm sure she's annoyed. I wouldn't mind living off junk food myself! So now she's on straight up Zupreem and fresh fruits/veggies.

Clicker training starts Thursday. Don't be surprised if she gets ahold of my clicker and I'M the one turning around on the perch and saying hi on command.

And no. I'm not a writer, per se. I just have a twisted outlook on life. I tend to write whatever pops into my brain cell, without much thought and forgive me that I never proofread what I write before hitting 'submit'. Instead, I'm a lowly robotics programmer/air force wife/mom of 4, including 2 boys that are 12 months apart. I call them Pete and Repeat. Definitely not an exciting life but I'm happy, none the less.


New member
Oct 5, 2012
Coquitlam BC, Canada
DYH Amazon-Rescue- Bosley (36),
African Brown head-Rescue- August(9)
oh the two of you will have so much fun. She's just getting started, can't wait to hear tomorrow's adventure.


New member
Feb 10, 2013
Phoenix, Arizona
Skittles - scarlet macaw
Wow Gina, your story hits home. My Skittles is a great bird, but sometimes it also seems like it is a test of wills.

You have an an amazing talent with writing. Thanks so much for sharing.


New member
Jul 31, 2013
Poppet. A Quaker.
Gina, I absolutely loved reading this and I laughed my head of this morning. Thanks. :)


New member
Aug 7, 2013
B&G Macaw - Rocky
Thanks for that story Gina, it's great. The bit about stepping up, petting and hand beaking had my wife and I laughing hard, that is SO very much our re-home B&G right now! However he hasn't stolen a plate of fruit so I guess we're fortunate.

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