Getting my Hahn's macaw to be nice to hubby


New member
Sep 19, 2017
East coast of USA
I now have a young Hahn's macaw. I used to have a Pacific Parrotlet that lived until almost 15. Before that I had a budgie.
My husband and I adopted our 6 month old Hahn's macaw on Labor Day weekend. At first, he seemed to favor my hubby, but was also always nice to me. I work from home and he sees me many hours per day. If he is in his cage, he mostly sees me since I spend most time in the same room (unless I'm doing chores/errands), he gets lots of out of cage time (with me in the room), and also time on/with me playing and cuddling. I guess because of all of this his affection/attachment has switched to me.

My husband spends very little time with him except on the weekends. When he does try to spend time with him after work, he has recently been getting bitten. My macaw has never bitten me. Or at least not hard. Hubby has had a couple really painful bites.

I don't want my macaw to continue hurting my husband. What can he do to stop this? It's hard for him to be home more. I'll admit that sometimes my husband approaches him or handles him in a way that I think causes the biting. He's not as patient as me. Sometimes my bird boy is very clingy. That frustrates hubby. I'm trying to train him out of it, but that's another challenge. I can pull my bird off if he's very stubborn and not get bitten (he just squeals a little), but hubby can't. The only time I've ever yelled at my bird boy is when he bites my husband, though I do give him very firm "No's" on occasion.
Hubby should be the one to offer your Hahns his very special favorite treat. Pretty soon he will realize that XXXXXXX only come from Hubby. And he needs to tone down the rough handling - every thing you do with your parrot should be trust building, not trust destroying - always keep that in mind when interacting him. And yelling at your Hahns is pointless, its like yelling at your shoe. And some birds get to enjoy the excitement of a good yelling, so they act out even more.
Show hubby how to handle him, show him how important patience is when it comes to handling parrots and earning their trust. They are super sensitive to even the way they are approached, so show him what to do. Treats are great. If he isn't willing to listen or be patient and learn, then he'll just continue to get bitten.

As for the actual biting, your Hahn's may be testing his boundaries and has learned to use his beak to get what he wants. When he bites, its up to us to show him what is and what is not acceptable behavior. Acceptable behavior gets treats and praise. Unacceptable behavior (biting) gets a time-out. Put in on the ground in a carrier in a dark room for a few minutes and wait for him to settle down. Only when he politely steps up for husband with no biting is when time-out is over. He must learn respect for all members of the flock, not just one.

It won't work overnight, it will take time for both to learn how to trust each other. Hubby needs to work on his handling and parrot body language skills, while macaw needs to understand biting gets him in big trouble.

Try to keep all interactions with hubby positive. Even if he doesn't handle your macaw, the two can still build a trust bond with him offering your macaw treats as he passes by with a friendly hello, and go about his way. Keep us updated on how this goes, and good luck!
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Thank you, both for the great suggestions! I will gather some of my bird boy's favorite treats to give to hubby. Hopefully that should really make a good impression. I don't regularly give my bird treats. Not that I never do, but I usually reward him more with praise and affection. If hubby is more of the "treat" man, that might really work out.

Hubby and I have had birds before our Hahn's macaw, but they were a Pacific Parrotlet and budgie, who were quite different than our macaw, especially when very young. Sometimes I feel like hubby is even offering his hand to bite. Why he approaches him like that I do not know. I'll talk to him about it, but hubby is stubborn, but maybe more bites will curb that a bit.

I think I'll do the time outs more just on the weekends, if necessary. Hubby is home so little time during the work week.
1. Macaws are pair bond birds, and are prone to overboding issues. If they haven't been handled by more than one person on a regular basis, they tend to do the "you're not my person" thing. So that could be the dynamic here.

2. The PRESENCE of the favorite person might be what triggers the biting behavior. Not you. I have a favorite person. So YOU may be inadvertently triggering this.

3. Disfavored person training. There is a post on this somewhere on this site. Essentially, the favorite person takes the bird to a neutral room, puts the bird down on a training perch, and then leaves. (I like using a shower perch in the bathroom.) The disfavored person comes in and works with the bird outside the presence of the favorite person.

Start with the bird just takes a favorite treat.
Then step up nice.
Then touch training.

Then the favorite person comes back in, praises the bird, and takes the bird back to his or her spot.

Do this every day for 15 minutes a day, for a few weeks to a month. You should see a dramatic change in behavior.
Great advice all around.
I didn't have that kind of input when my ol' man and the Rickeybird were working things out, so they are absolute rivals for my affection (and everything else). Later attempts didn't help much.
Good luck to you.
I'm glad you're reaching out!
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That really sounds like good sense. Thanks so much for sharing that, Birdman666.

I think a different room will make a difference. Hubby always tries to play with my bird boy in the room that I spend most of the day in with him. Maybe my bird boy feels that hubby is invading "our" territory/turf?

We used to take our Pacific Parrotlet into many different rooms, but we haven't really done that as much with our Hahn's macaw. We do take him outside when we can, but he is in the secondary cage the whole time. We once tried to invite him to breakfast, but he was just way too nutty to tolerate at the time. Stealing from every dish in sight. A few times we took him to the living room, but we don't spend that much time there. Our TV is in the bedroom, where bird boy and I practically live.

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