By Barbara H. Peterson


My Blue and Gold Macaw name Rita, short for Margarita, and I fell in love at first sight in 1995, when she was just a whipper snapper, fresh out of the egg. I had extra money then, so home she came. To make sure that I had a good start on her upbringing, I read several books on feeding, training, and raising your bird to be a contributing member of the family. Since Macaws live to be around 80 years of age, having one that is an agreeable member of the family is a must.

We learned to bath together in the shower, play, and talk to each other. With constant interaction, we developed a very close relationship that includes her telling me when she is thirsty or hungry, when she has to go poopers (yes, she says it), and when she wants to go to sleep. She does not live in a cage, although I have one for her, and sleeps on a stand next to my bed. She is my alarm clock. When I wake up, she looks at me, says “gimme four,” raises her foot and gives the high-four (Macaws only have 4 toes).

Rita is a very healthy bird, as you can see by the picture. I believe that her diet is one of the main reasons for this, and it doesn’t cost me a dime more than what I ordinarily spend on people food! Why? Because if you eat healthy, then your bird can eat what you eat. Here is a picture of some scraps that I have drying under the ceiling fan for her. This includes some leftover oatmeal, Rita biscuits, peppers, carrots, raisins, onions, yams, and oranges:

Every time I cut fruit and veggies up, I take the end pieces, cores, and peelings, and place them under the fan to dry for Rita. I also add some dried pinto beans, raisins, and nuts to the ration if I have extra. If I get too many carrot peelings, I take a bit of leftover flour, eggs from the chickens, and bake some Rita biscuits for her. Remember, Macaws cannot have avocados, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol, as these things can kill them. Also, no moldy food, or anything that you could not eat yourself, and the coating on an overheated teflon pan will emit fumes that will kill your bird, so be very careful in the kitchen.

So, the next time you are tempted to grab that bag of processed bird food that is extremely boring and highly expensive, or bird seeds that contain about as much nutrition as a diet coke, resist! You don’t need to spend extra money on food that is inadequate for your lifelong companion. With a little effort, you can have a healthy, happy Macaw on a beer budget by simply not letting your scraps go to waste.

(C) 2011 Barbara H. Peterson