Updated: Jan 13, 2020
To put it plain and simple: Birds are a lot to maintain. It’s not their fault - they just love to preen all day and every day.
For us parronts though, the clean up can be a scary task. It doesn’t matter how often you clean, you’d have to chase after them with a hand vacuum if you want your place to stay spotless. It’s pretty impossible.. You just have to do your best to maintain things without losing your mind. A few things to be aware of when it comes to macaw environmental cleanliness:
1. PREENING - Their preening will result in a down feather “takeover” in your home. You will find it in every nook and cranny you never thought a feather dust bunny would grow.. Every time they flap their wings or fly, it will snow down feather! Best way to keep this contained is to get a decent air purifier. We literally have 2 right next to their cage on full blast to collect the feathers as they fall down. These air purifiers have to be changed out every few days to a week max.
Their molting season is when the shedding is at its peak. This is a good time to take advantage and bond closely with your feathered baby. When their new pin feathers are coming in, there’s a hard shell that surrounds the new feather being pushed out. As parronts, you can help them by gently scratching or peeling at the hard shell to help the growth process along. But remember - gentle is the keyword here. When birds get new pin feathers, it’s not pleasant for them. If not handled correctly, it can actually hurt them instead.
2. Food - Always make sure they have fresh food and water in the cage. Monty especially is very picky with his water. He likes to dunk food into water before eating. However, once that water is muddy from two dunks of food, he refuses to drink it. But having constant clean food and water keeps the bacteria away. Think about it - they’re your kids, would you leave your hooman children the same food and water day after day? NOPE! So change them often :)
And if you have birds like ours that are messy eaters and occasionally tosses their food. It’s always good to keep the floors clean and mess free anyway. Trust us.. Stepping on their food is like stepping on a million Lego blocks.
3. Bath/Shower - Monty absolutely LOVES his sink baths. Majority of the time, he’ll tell us when he needs to shower. He’ll fly to the kitchen counter, jumps into the sink, and stare at you until you decide to turn the faucet on. Merlin isn’t too keen on the idea but we’re hoping to change that haha. Showers are really helpful when these babies are shedding. Water helps soften the hard shells on their pin feathers and makes it easier to crack open and preen. It also helps get rid of any dander/dandruff/dry skin that’s usually on their skin.
4. TOYS - Macaws need toys to keep themselves entertained and a lot of the toys are made out of wood.. Which equals to TINY fragments of wood that can cause nasty splinters if your floors and surfaces are not cleaned. Always vacuum and mop to make sure no one has to suffer from sharp little wooden shreds.
5. POO - biggest mess of them all. With a baby macaw like Merlin who is still being hand fed formula, the poo is massive and mushy. Monty & Merlin are both potty trained so they would do their business at their designated spots. But that poo on the wee wee pad in the cage? We change ours out every day or two. With the heat on for the winter and the pad full of baby poo = unpleasant smells and breeding bacteria. Also - it’s very bad for your macaw to ingest any of the dried poo - so keep the poo away at all cost. We mention this especially because most bird cages have a grate at the bottom that separates the bird’s space and the waste tray. Often times the grate will have a lot of dried poo pile up because birds tend to poo in the same areas. When they climb down, they can come in contact with the dried poo and can possibly contract some sort of bacteria. Avoid that and keep the cage clean.
It’s not easy and it requires a lot of daily upkeep. To make your life easier, try potty training your birds to do their business in designated spots. Potty training is all about timing and repetition. Macaws usually will go every 15-20 minutes (the time varies based on the size of the bird) Once you have figured out your bird’s bathroom schedule, aim to put them in their designated areas 5 minutes before and repeat a phrase associated with using the bathroom. If they succeed, reward with love, kisses, and treats. These rewards are a must to solidify it in their minds that using the bathroom at their designated area is a good thing.
If your bird isn’t too responsive to potty training at first - don’t fret. Keep up with the training and keep your technique consistent. Try it and let us know if it helps!