By Gideon Scheepers
The Blue & Gold Macaw from the northern part of South America is truly one of the best known and most recognised of the macaws. Being a rich blue above and golden yellow below. The forehead and crown is green and it has the distinctive naked face with the black feather lines crossing it. They vary in length from 90 cm-95cm and weigh about 900 - 1000 g. The bill is black and feet and legs are dark grey.
Breeding in Nature
In the wild these parrots pair off in breeding season and choose a nesting site usually a palm tree, which has been hollowed out. The hen then proceeds to lay the clutch 3-4 eggs and incubation starts lasting for 24-26 days, this is done by the female. The chicks weigh about 20.5 g upon hatching, they are nearly naked and they remain naked until about 3 weeks when the pinfeathersemerge. The chicks fledge at around 13 weeks at a weight of around 790-840 g.
Housing in Aviculture
My Blue & Golds are kept in suspended aviaries with a 210 litre steel drum hung up horizontally as a nestbox.
They have a variety of perches and rope in the aviary, my pairs are extremely wild as they were wild caught, the hen has tamed down beautifully but the male remains aloof. They are noisy but only certain times of the day, but not as noisy as the Greenwing Macaws
Aviaries for these parrots must be well constructed and the wire must be a heavy gauge as their beaks are like pliers. They also love to bath and shower when no one is around. My pairs do not ever go down to the ground, if they want to retrieve something from the floor they will climb down the wire sides and stretch until they reach the object, if they can't reach it they will ignore the object.
Breeding in Aviculture
Blue and Golds can be prolific breeders, once they start, a breeder inPretoria got 17 chicks from a discarded mousy looking pair put up to breed as he could not sell them. I have seen pairs producing 5-8 chicks a season. We take babies away at 10 days old if it is the first clutch of the season and all other clutches are left with the parents for 4 weeks before being taken for handrearing.
I provide a horizontal steel drum for a nestbox (60 cm diameter x 90 cm long), lined with wood. They are provided with a food and water dish at perch height, my pairs refuse to go down to the floor to eat so I had to move their food dishes up. Nestboxes for all macaws should be well constructed so as to prevent chicks or eggs falling through a chewed up base. They also need sturdy perches for successful mating, no wonky ones as this can result in unfertilized eggs and a waste of a breeding season.
Blue and Golds have been known to lay and produce chicks at one and a half to two years of age, but the norm is 3-4 years. The younger they are the more the chances of problemsoccurring are, as they are inexperienced, so you could end up with, infertile or broken eggs, or they may not incubate or feed properly.If this is the case then at the very least you will have a compatable laying pair , which will probably produce chicks the next round.
There are a few mutations of this parrot, including a Blue, Pied, Cinnamon, one with the blue replaced by black (Grey), and one with the yellow replaced by white, and recently, yellow (Golden) and some NSL Lutinos.
Above is a Blue Mutation Blue & Gold Macaw.
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