Blue Macaw grip release problem

by Jeremy Weyrauch
(Spokane, WA USA)

My Blue & Gold Macaw Miranda (male) appears to have an infrequent problem releasing his grip when using his right foot. For example I will be holding him and then escorting him to the floor, to his cage, to somewhere and his right foot just doesn't release. It stays tightly gripping my arm or hand and then his left one is fine.

He seems to panic a little and doesn't bite me, but puts his mouth on my finger when I try to help him.

It's very unusual. I am not sure it's even medical as in maybe he just doesn't want to let go, but it's a little weird though too. It strikes me as being involuntary.

That leads me to wonder is it neurological? A pinched nerve in his foot? Something else? Just him not letting go?

Anyway I didn't find any post about it so far so any feedback would be appreciated.

Comments for Blue Macaw grip release problem

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 12, 2013
water bowl
by: Jeremy

Ok good to know. It's a big bowl so not sure that's what you meant. We do thoroughly rinse with hot water and soap twice a day and if I see that's it's soupy after a meal I'll change the water then also.

I'm glad you mentioned it. I'll do some research on your suggestion and see if I can apply to my other birds also.

Jun 12, 2013
Macaw with grip problem
by: The Avian Vet

I am happy to make an appointment for an exam or a phone consult to help determine the cause of this problem.

I detect that he drinks from a water dish. I urge you to switch him to a bottle. Bottles are more sanitary. Open dished grow bacteria in 3 hours, so washing the bowl every 3-4 hours is necessary to prevent subclinical bacterial infections. Although this is not the cause of the foot problem, it is a problem that should be corrected.

Dr B

Jun 09, 2013
more info
by: Jeremy

He does have wooden perches with different diameters in his cage. His diet is varied. He always has a bowl with dry pellets and we give him variety of veggies, cheese, bread and other stuff that we eat also depending on the day like pasta (minus red sauce) etc.

In his cage he is very active swinging from a bell he rings and causing a fuss if he's not let out. I take him out 3-5 times a day on weekends and 1-3 times per evening work nights. He likes to be on the floor and walk around.

His main behavior is to go to the bathroom door and bob his head and wait for me to come over which I believe might be mating behavior. That's his "spot".

He doesn't have a lot of feathers because he had already picked up a feather plucking habit during a short period of stress with a previous owner. They were great owners they just did some remodeling which stressed him out at the time.

Water gets cleaned two to three times a day. Fresh food daily.

His grip issue is not constant. He spends most of his time in his cage on the wide diameter branch next to his food bowls.

Jun 09, 2013
Macaw possible neurological issue
by: The Avian Vet

Yes, neurological is on my differential list, too. It may be a behavior possibly related to a balance issue maybe caused by an improper wing clip. There are other medical and non-medical differentials, as well, but I need more information about his condition and lifestyle, as well as other subtle behaviors or symptoms that may be indicative of the etiology.

Dr B

Jun 09, 2013
Blue Macaw grip release problem
by: Linda

Not sure what kind of perches you have, and parrots need safe wood natural branch perches. The varying diameters across a natural branch allow the feet to be more relaxed. The wooden dowels cause birds to have to grip strongly all the time, and this can cause problems with feet and legs including developing arthritis at an early age.The natural branch perches are fitted to cage using inside cage dimensions. They have an inside and outside washer and a wing nut on the outside. Measure inside from one side to the other so they will fit correctly.Macaws need the large branches where basic diameter is 3" up to 4"+. Places selling them usually have perches divided into species of bird or size bird.

If you already have natural branch perches, then this sounds like a neurological problem. Your bird will need to be examined by an Avian Vet ONLY in your area and they will probably take x-rays of that foot and leg to see if there is a structural problem. Be sure and tell them everything about your bird's life, what he eats, what kind of cage and perches, what kind of exercise he gets and so on so they have a snapshot of his life with you.

Let us know what Avian Vet has to say, and you can find natural wood branch perches with hardware already installed many places on the internet. Manzanita is very good for Macaws as it is hard enough to hold up better to their strong beaks. Parrots also love wooden toys in the correct size for them and spend many happy hours chewing on them. Here again, the harder woods hold up to a Macaw's beak better than soft wood.

Thanks for writing and hope this helps give you a direction to go in.

Linda

Click here to add your own comments