New aggression from a beloved Hahn's Macaw

by Lindsay
(Maine)

I have a Hahn's Macaw who is about 3.5 years old. When he was very young, he was absolutely my baby. He preferred me to everyone. As he went through puberty, he became aggressive toward our children, and started to slightly prefer my husband to me, but otherwise his behavior toward me was not different.

Over the last couple of months, though, he has begun to prefer my husband to the point where he will not stay with me, and tries to walk or fly to where my husband is sitting. Still, he wasn't aggressive.

The last straw, though, was that two weeks ago we left on vacation for a week. We left him with someone he knows and likes, and who herself has an African Grey, used to manage the pet shop where we bought Pete (our macaw), and who knows a lot about birds. She has mentioned that she thought maybe that "Pete" was actually "Petra", and that she noticed the change that he prefers her boyfriend to her, which was not always the case.

Anyway, since we got back from our trip, not only does Pete not want to spend time with me, he has become very aggressive with me and attacks me when I try to handle him.

This bird is very dear to me, and I don't understand his sudden change in attitude toward me. I don't believe anything has really changed in our relationship. My husband and I both work, but Pete gets several hours of kid-free family time every evening. If this had started sooner I would assume it had to do with our new baby, but that new baby is now almost 2, and this behavior is very recent.

Any ideas about why this is happening, and how I can change it, would be most appreciated. I am devastated by the bird's sudden rejection of me.

Thanks, Lindsay

Comments for New aggression from a beloved Hahn's Macaw

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Mar 11, 2012
Macaw now prefers husband
by: Tracie

I had this happen with my green cheeked conures. One day they just decided I was the owner from hell and my husband came straight from heaven. :-/

Rather than retell everything already written, I suggest you read some of the training materials on our Parrot Training page and even though you don't have a conure problem, read the biting green cheek conure article. That is the article that tells how my husband, who the birds ended up preferring, got the birds to not attack me.

I feel for you. I felt the same way when my birds turned on me. Here I am the one with them all day long, feeding and spoiling them. Hang in there.

As far as books and other training material, if you like DVD's I suggest the Barbara Heidenreich Parrot Behavior and Training DVD

Mar 10, 2012
Thanks...
by: Lindsay

for that very useful advice. We are taking him to a vet to make sure there is no physical problem. Also, I am definitely willing to put in the time to work with him, and get him where he will let me handle him again. Partially for my own good, but also he would get a lot more attention if he allowed both of us to handle him. I used to always have him out when I was bopping around the house, but now I can't do that.

Do you have any advice about which training programs are highly regarded by bird professionals? We have lots of books, and I have always read up on making sure parrots are healthy and happy, but now I think I need something a little different. Any more advice (you've already been so generous!) will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

L

Mar 02, 2012
Aggressive Macaw
by: Anonymous

Unfortunately, these are one of the many downsides of owning a parrot. You just never know what behavior they may do next!! Don't forget that these guys ARE wild animals, just because your bird in particular may have been hatched in someone's home does not mean that its parents were not wild caught. Instincts and behaviors are just one or two generations from being wild. There is truly no way to domesticate parrots. Therefore, what I believe you are experiencing with your parrot is in fact his hormonal stage where he has "grown up". Parrots in the wild stick with their parents and flock members as a tight knit family in large social groups. (or of course, a human family) As youngsters, parrots have best friends and treat them with a lot of love and respect (which is what you were to him) You provided him love, care, toys, someone to play with...just like a buddy or parent would do in the wild. Now that he has begun and/or going through his sexual maturity...in the wild this is when your bird would find his forever mate. Your Pete may have just chosen your husband. This is why I am so controversial about people purchasing birds who are not weaned yet. They are told by breeders and pet stores that "if you hand feed her, you will bond forever. She will ALWAYS like you best!!" Yes, this is true in some cases, but other times yes, maybe..for a few years..you will be literally a mommy figure until your bird grows up and says "im out of here, thanks for providing for me but now I am ready to mate! See ya!" This upsets a lot of people because it can come on suddenly and then all their hopes from hand feeding are squashed because now they have chosen another family member. So what you can do now is a couple of things. Your bird does not have to hate you. Your husband needs to spend as litte time as possible with Pete (Which by the way I would STRONGLY suggest getting DNA sexed) You must not fear an attack, you should always still provide food, water, new toys, everything you used to do. Although this may never build back the relationship you once had, it sure can teach your bird to tolerate you. There is plenty of training material out there as well, should you decide to get serious about this and train your bird. But in the long run, if your bird is happy, then you must be happy. He will sense fear, upsetness, intimidation, and frustration from you which will make things a lot harder on you.
It would also not be a bad idea to get Pete checked out by an avian veterinarian..Even though this sounds completely typical of hormonal aggression, birds sometimes will lash out when they are feeling sick.. so just as a precaution, I think a trip to the vet for a clean bill of health would be great! Goodluck!!

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