The Blue and Gold Macaw
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Sunny, the blue and gold macaw, is a bird of many names. He came to us in July of 2014 from the Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary where, over the past 20 years, he had been adopted and returned three times. His last family had named him Sinbad and the Sanctuary had renamed him Scooby.
I saw his beautiful photo and read his bio on the internet which said “Good with everyone, loves kids”. Thinking of his potential as a wildlife ambassador, I made the drive to Santa Barbara to check him out. As his caretaker escorted me to an outdoor cage to meet the macaw for the first time, he said, “Scooby looks a little different than his photo”.
And he was right.
Most of the bird’s beautiful feathers had been plucked from his chest, abdomen and legs and he had begun work on the tops of his large wings, as well. When I heard his sad story about being adopted and then relinquished so many times it seemed to me that this self-mutilating behavior was his way of saying “I need a permanent home where I have a busy life with lots of toys and attention ...and someone to love me. I need to go home to Wildworks.”
Potential adopters must get to know the individual bird before taking him home so I eased into a comfortable chair as my new friend sat on my arm staring lovely up into my face, seeming to say “Thank you. I really needed this.” I made the trip to Santa Barbara three times to visit and then the day came to take my featherless friend with me. On the way home I named him Sunny because his future was getting brighter by the minute.
The very next day I took him to a veterinarian for an exam. Unfortunately, it was discovered that Sunny has irreversible lung damage. Being especially susceptible to the feather dust of cockatoos from Australia and African grey parrots, macaws can develop an irreversible problem when housed alongside these species. In nature these birds would never come in contact but in a home or a crowded sanctuary this often isn’t the case. Fortunately, Sunny is our only parrot and, with lots of fresh air on his side, is doing fine for now.
For the first few days he was so tired from the change that he could barely stay awake so we let him rest and when he wasn’t asleep (or eating!!) I held him on my lap. He very quickly began to feel comfortable and then spent time in his outdoor enclosure for some sun, fresh air and cardboard box shredding.
They weren’t kidding when they said he likes everyone. Anyone can pick him up and hold him and he’s never tried to bite. He absolutely loves all the attention. He says a few words, even speaks a little Spanish, playfully hangs upside down by one foot when held, and has exhibited breeding behavior toward my cat, Bob, who doesn’t know what to make of it all.
And his feathers are growing back!!
Feather plucking is often an issue with captive birds that are stressed or bored. As you can see from his photo, we have proof positive that Sunny’s life has improved in our care.
Sunny has proven to be the perfect bird ambassador and is now traveling to programs and sharing his story. Everybody loves Sunny!