Trained Parrot BlogParrot Wizard Online Parrot Toy StoreThe Parrot Forum

My Macaw hates the cage during the day! Help!

Chat about general parrot care and parrot owner lifestyle. Bird psychology, activities, trimming, clipping, breeding etc.

My Macaw hates the cage during the day! Help!

Postby zackothecatalina » Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:27 am

I have a 7-8 months old Catalina Macaw, and he hates to be put inside the cage during the day!

Here is what happens:

In the morning at around 9am, I take him out of the cage and put him on his tree, where he hangs out. At first he will fly around the room just to stretch his wings and then settle on the tree again. He is a flighted bird (indoors only).

I give him his hand-feed (just a bit) to kick him off for the day, and then he eats his pellets and nuts for breakfast. Lunch is fresh foods (fruits and veggies). Both the breakfast and lunch is on the tree bowls as he doesn't eat inside the cage.

Whenever we put him in the cage for lunch, or after lunch, he would continuously pace the cage with periodic screaming. If we leave the room and ignore it for a while, he would stop screaming, but he would not eat anything, and will just sit on one perch. We have waited hours, but he just doesn't eat inside the cage. If we do not leave the room, he will continue pacing and screaming forever!

The only time he is happy to go to his cage is at bedtime after his night handfeed.

Sometimes when none of us are at home, we put him inside the cage and go out, but he doesn't eat anything until he is let out again.

Additional notes:
Note (1): He does not respond to his treats (sunflower seeds) or toys inside the cage. He just doesn't want them. The cage is well setup, meaning there are toys, perches of different sizes, and even treats inside! This is the cage: https://prevuepet.com/product/113/silverado-macaw-bird-cage-3155s

Note (2): He is a very happy and joyful Macaw who enjoys playtime with all the family members, and is not fearful or nippy at all!

Any help to keep him happily inside the cage for a couple hours a day would be appreciated!
zackothecatalina
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 2
Types of Birds Owned: Catalina Macaw
African Grey
Flight: Yes

Re: My Macaw hates the cage during the day! Help!

Postby Pajarita » Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:13 am

Welcome to the forum! Now, the way I see it, you are doing a couple of things wrong. For one thing, he should only be handfed once a day by now and never for breakfast (I would do it after his dinner). He should also not be fed outside his cage or protein food first thing in the morning. The way I look at it (and I don't mean to offend you or attack/criticize you on this, I am simply giving you my opinion), you kind of created the situation by instituting a routine that could not be maintained. Birds that live in cages should always be fed their main dish IN the cage. Only birds that live cage free or live in a home where their human is ALWAYS home should be allowed to eat outside their cage - and, let's face it, life being what it is nowadays, there is no such thing as a human that is ALWAYS going to be there for them! I hardly ever go out... at the most, I go out three times a week, only to run shortish errands (supermarket, pharmacy) and always during their cage time (in the afternoon) and I still feed them in their cages.

Now, macaws are late risers but 9 am is still quite late for him to be allowed out of his cage. He should come out as soon as there is enough light in the sky for him to see (with no artificial lights on, of course! or you would mess up his endocrine system) - that happens at, latest, 7:00 am this time of the year (my birds come out at 6:30 am right now). At this time, he should be allowed to fly around and do whatever while you clean his cage and put his breakfast in it (which should NOT be pellets and nuts, that should be his dinner, because by feeding protein food in the morning, you are eliminating the biggest incentive you can have to train him properly and filling him up with protein when he should be filling up with produce -macaws consume HUGE amounts of fresh plant material in the wild). Back he goes into his cage to eat his breakfast (half an hour usually does it but, in his case, you need to go back to square one and it will take longer because he is conditioned to eat on his tree). When he is done, he should be allowed to come out for, at least, 5 hours. Then back into his cage (with the leftover breakfast in it) for the remainder of the day until it's time for dinner (when the sun is halfway down to the horizon and you turn off the artificial lights so his body can register the 'end' of the daylight hours and 'set' his internal clock in tune with the seasons -research circadian and circannual cycles and avian photoperiodism for more info). And, after he eats his dinner, I would handfeed him IF he asks for it. Also, I hope that you are not still feeding just baby formula but, at least, thinning it with fruit puree (macaws need A LOT of fruits) because baby bird formulas have way too much protein in them and they all have soy -which is not healthy for animals.

See, the thing with parrots (and all birds, actually) is that, if you follow nature's guidelines set by evolution in terms of diet parameters (things like levels of protein, fat, fiber, moisture), solar schedule (so their endocrine system is attuned to the seasons as it should be) and their circadian cycle (the different activities they do during the day and when they do them), it doesn't only make for a healthier, happier life for the bird but also much easier to live with them.

My recommendation to you is to start him on gloop or some other sort of 'wet', minimally processed , nutritious and interesting food (because they do get bored always eating the same thing as this is not what happens in nature -EVER!- all birds are seasonal eaters) and large quantities of raw produce (especially fruits) in the morning. Forget about lunch - birds might pick a bit here and there but they only have two main meals: breakfast (at dawn) and dinner (at dusk). This is not my personal opinion, it's a scientific fact. My birds do eat a bit of a late lunch when they go back into their cages for the afternoon (around 2:30 pm this time of the year) but that is because they are always in a hurry to come out of their cages in the am after they eat some breakfast and I close the doors to the cages so they don't have access to any other food until they go back in. This makes it easy for me to put them back into their cages because they know there is food in there and, after 5 or 6 hours, they are a bit hungry - I even use the phrase to indicate food is being served ('Que rica papa!') when I call them to their cages ('Go Home') and it works so well that most of them fly back to their cages and a few even go in by themselves - even a parent-raised, not people friendly conure which does not step up at all or allows anybody to touch her. For the new birds and sometimes for the old ones, too (just to break the monotony and to make it not only interesting for them but also to teach them that there will be 'unpredictables' every now and then), I give them a high value treat (which is always a high protein food item - like a nut).

You see, by feeding high protein early in the morning (formula, pellets and nuts) you kind of shot yourself in the foot because you left no incentive for him to go back into his cage - especially after you taught him to eat only on his tree. And it's also unhealthy for him.

So, this is what I would do. First I would find a low protein, good staple food for the morning and get him used to it. Do not handfeed him and do not give him any protein food in the morning or the whole thing will not work. You will have to do 'tough love' on him and wait him out. He is NOT going to starve because he will have access to food and he will have his protein dinner but you should make it so his new food is attractive to him so I suggest you do a very simple gloop of just grains that are barely cooked with a bit of chopped nuts sprinkled on top at the beginning just so he realizes that this is food. You will have to start him on this new food on his tree because you can't change everything from one day to the next, you have to do it gradually and get him used to one thing before you go on to the next step. Once he is eating it (and he will because I have transitioned literally hundreds of birds to gloop and not a single one has not liked it), you start serving his breakfast in his cage (make sure that his gloop already contains some veggies before you start putting it in his cage - start with sweet corn, they all LOVE it). At the beginning, he might not eat it - and that's fine. You wait about half an hour and let him out but remember to close the door to the cage so he doesn't have access to food during the hours that he is out. Then, when it's time to go back into his cage, you say the phrase that indicates he needs to go back into his cage and the phrase that means food and put him there. Again, he might or might not eat it but you have to stand firm on this and not give him anything else to eat until dinner time (it happens about 4:30 pm this time of the year). He will eat his dinner eagerly because a) it's protein food and b) he will be hungry.

If you are consistent, persistent and patient, it will happen. He will eat his healthy food in his cage and will not make a big deal out of going into it. But it is up to you because you have to do it exactly right every single day until he realizes this is the new normal.

As to his screaming when he is in his cage.... well, can you blame him? I mean, I would scream too if somebody put me in a jail cell all alone. He is still a baby and babies cry when left alone - it's as simple as that. Now, my birds do not scream. They vocalize (flock calls) when it's dinner time (mostly the cockatoo) but you do not hear a single peep out of them during the day... not even when they are in their cages (well, except for Keku Quaker that likes to whistle every now and then but she is one of the birds that were given up because of constant loud screams). I do not know for certain why my birds don't scream while others do (and they are all rehomes that were given up mostly because of behavioral problems) but I have the theory that it all goes down to them being healthy (right diet, right light schedule, flighted, etc), having other parrots and their people around them (they are flock animals and there is safety in numbers) and having a daily routine that resembles as close as possible the one they would have in the wild (meaning, up with dawn, breakfast right after, interaction, noon rest, interaction, dinner with dusk, roosting). This, added to their super consistent life (there is no change for weekends, sick days or vacations, no boarding or being cared for by somebody different, no going outside in the street, etc) keeps them stress-free (well, as much as one can make it in captivity) and makes them feel secure (being able to predict what will happen and when and having their 'prophecy fulfilled' gives them a sense of control over their own lives -something that it's hardwired into them as they have no leaders or alphas and which is taken away in captivity).

I hope I was able to explain what is causing the problem and point you in the right direction but, please, feel free to ask anything you might still have doubts on.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 16669
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: My Macaw hates the cage during the day! Help!

Postby zackothecatalina » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:49 pm

Hi Pajarita:

Thank you so much for the very detailed and comprehensive information you provided.

I am trying my best to follow your advice in caring for my little one.

I just have one question:
For the gloop, would you be so kind to provide a simple starters recipe, with cooking instructions? I did look around quite a bit and found some ideas, but wanted to get it straight from you considering the specific case of my Macaw.

Once again, thank you very much for all the help. I wish you would write some definitive guide about new baby parrot owners to refer to!
zackothecatalina
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 2
Types of Birds Owned: Catalina Macaw
African Grey
Flight: Yes

Re: My Macaw hates the cage during the day! Help!

Postby Pajarita » Sat Feb 01, 2020 10:44 am

:lol: A book that covers all the species of companion and aviary parrots we keep would be the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica - you are, most likely, too young to remember it but it was the HUGEST set of books! And, in all honesty, I really do not know enough about all the species - not that this has stopped other people from writing generic books about parrots as if a parrot was a parrot was a parrot and all could be fed and treated the same way - which is most definitely NOT true. One can draw parallels and similarities between species of the same genus (like amazons, macaws, cockatoos, poicephalus, etc) but each species has different needs and characteristics. But, in all honesty, all one has to do is go to nature. Study the species in the wild, look at the size of the flocks, where they live (geographically) and what kind of climate they evolved to live under (look at the weather patterns and compare them to when their breeding and resting seasons are), study their reproductive behaviors (like, when they become sexually mature and when they take a mate -which is usually NOT the same age, how long are the babies in the nest, how long do the parents feed them in the beak, when do they move away from their parents, do they leave their flock to find a mate? etc), what they eat (and don't go by just the stupid list that read something like: seeds, nuts and fruits - look at the flora of the country and check each plant in terms of whether they eat the fruit, buds or nuts, read biologists and ornithologists field reports where there are observations of flocks feeding in the wild, etc). It's time consuming and a lot of work but the info IS there and, when you find it, try to copy as close as possible what their life in the wild would be. It's as hard and as simple as that.

Now, macaws are late risers - not so much in terms of waking up because they all wake up with dawn but they always wait about an hour before they start eating their breakfast (other species start eating as soon as there is the smallest amount of light in the horizon - like caiques and budgies, for example, that start eating when one would think it's too dark to see the food). This works out great for their keepers because it gives them time to clean the cage and put the breakfast out in peace. They are canopy feeders (meaning they are not ground foragers so they like to get their food high up, never close to the ground so put his food dish all the way up in his cage) and consume HUGE amounts of fruit and fresh plant material so, while they do need the protein (they eat things like palm nuts in the wild), they also need A LOT of produce and prefer large pieces or items they can hold in their 'hands' (so chop is never a good idea for macaws). They leave the nest when they are between 3 and 4 months old but the parents still supplement their food intake up to nine months of age (yours should be near the age when they no longer get supplemented).

For a macaw, I would make a gloop of large grains (mind you, I had two macaws in my rescue and they ate the same gloop I gave to everybirdy else so it's not as if they cannot eat the 'regular' gloop) - like kamut, spelt, oat groats, hulled barley (don't get the 'regular' pearled barley because it's too little), wheat (hard red winter or soft white spring) or, if you find a nice size one, farro. You can also add some big whole grain couscous to the mix but cook it separately because if you do it mixed with the grains, it will become mush. The grains need to be cooked al dente (meaning swollen with water, soft on the outside but still hard in the inside - boil them for 20 - 25 minutes and, when they are done, if there is still water in the pot, put the grains through a colander because at least my birds do not like soupy gloop) and I would advise you to add some beans to the mix (I only add lentils now but I used to add small white beans - do NOT use colored beans, only white ones and, for a macaw, you can use the Northern or Navy ones that are larger in size) and, if you buy them dry and cook them yourself, make sure they are cooked at a high temperature and thoroughly (no simmering for beans, rapid boiling is safer because of the bad lectin that needs to be nullified with cooking). Start him on just grain/bean gloop and add some seeds or nuts to it (just a little bit, mind you) so he can tell the grains are also food. At the beginning, he will just eat the seeds and leave the grains but, eventually (it usually takes 2 or 3 days), he will start eating the grains, too. When you see little white, almost transparent, empty 'skins' in the dish, you know he is eating the grains (they 'peel' the covering and eat the insides). Once he has been eating the grains without a problem for a few days (with parrots EVERYTHING takes a loooong time because it has to be very gradually), start adding sweet corn (they all love corn), when he is eating the corn for a few days, add sweet peas, when he is eating the corn and the peas, add diced carrots, and so on and so forth until he is getting the whole recipe. Also, you will need to add flavorings to each day (they will eat it 'plain' but the changing flavors keep them interested in it) - things like chili powder or any kind of hot spicy peppers (habaneros, jalapenos, chile de arbol, white and black pepper, oregano, cinnamon (but make sure it's the Ceylon one and not the fake cinnamon that is cheaper), ginger, allspice, paprika, etc. Make sure you do research on them so you do not overdo it because you need to be careful with some spices - like nutmeg, for example, that, when taken in a higher dosage causes diarrhea. And you can also add things like chopped raw peppers, chopped sundried tomatoes, organic, naturally dried apple chips (never give a parrot any fruit that has been treated with sulfites -like dried aprictos- or has added sugar -like dry papaya), black olives (only the no salt kind), etc. Check this site for organic and naturally dried produce you can add: http://barryfarm.com/ To give you an idea, I make a gloop flavor I call 'Apple Pie' that has organic, naturally dried apple chips (from Barry Farm), a bit of cinnamon, some organic raisins and a little bit of grated (remember to wash it first with soap and warm water) organic lemon peel. The Pizza flavor has peppers, black olives and sundried tomatoes with some white pepper and the tiniest sprinkle of garlic. The Pina Colada has dried pineapple chips and unsweetened coconut flakes. While the Chili is just the regular gloop with some chopped sundried tomatoes and chili powder. You see where I am going, right? Just think of a human meal or drink and make it bird-worthy.

Let me know if this is enough.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 16669
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: My Macaw hates the cage during the day! Help!

Postby zackothecatalina » Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:32 am

Hi Pajarita,

Thank you so so much for all your detailed steps and guidelines. I have been able to very successfully set Zacko’s schedule to be closer to sunrise and sunset, and also put him on gloop.

Everything is great now, but I’m still struggling to cage him. He eats only outside, no matter how long I cage him. I think with being persistent, this will soon change :)

Thank you very much once again!
zackothecatalina
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 2
Types of Birds Owned: Catalina Macaw
African Grey
Flight: Yes

Re: My Macaw hates the cage during the day! Help!

Postby Pajarita » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:00 am

I am so glad I was able to help! Now, in order for parrots to learn what and where to eat, you need to use 'tough love' along with bribes :lol:

I have a parent-raised GCC which is also still too high-strung (and headstrong!) for her own good so there is no stepping up, toweling, touching or anything with her but words and gestures and I managed to train her to go back into her cage on her own by using these two methods combined. First, I make sure she gets no access to any gloop, then I put her dish in her cage where she can see it (and always at the same height her roosting perch is because they are also canope feeders - I do this by putting a platform in her cage where I rest the little flat dish where her gloop is), then, using a long stick, I kind of 'herd' her to her cage (I put the stick behind her without touching her body at all and saying "Annie, go home!" which makes her fly to the top of her cage. And then I wait her out and, when she goes in, I close the door. But, at the very beginning (and I am talking a couple of weeks), I used to put the smallest amount of budgie seed mix on top of her gloop AFTER showing it to her in the palm of my hand and repeating "Peanuts!" several times (peanuts is the word they know for any type of seed or nut) before I did the 'Go home'. Find his high value item and use it this way - it will speed things up.

Now, the 'peanuts' is the bribe while the 'tough love' is the not allowing them to eat anything UNLESS they go into their cage so, if he does not go into his cage to eat willingly, do not give him any food. Annie GCC had to spend quite a number of days where she did not get any food until the early afternoon when they all go back into their cages (which drove my husband crazy and me nuts because he would not stop telling me "She is hungry!" "You need to feed her!" "Give her a little food outside her cage") but she did learn and now she goes in without a problem every day - even when she steals produce from the other cages.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 16669
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes


Return to General Parrot Care

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests

Parrot ForumArticles IndexTraining Step UpParrot Training BlogPoicephalus Parrot InformationParrot Wizard Store