Ask Lafeber


June 1, 2020

Hormonal Blue & Gold

Peach 6 year old blue and gold macaw has become very michievous and agressive at times in the last year. His hormones are affecting his behavior. what can I do to help him. He constantly is trying to mate with me. I started gicing him more food and that seems to improve his behavior. I got him a foraging toy that took me 1 week to figure out how to put the food in the toy and he took the food in 5 seconds out. Any suggestions. This is my second blue and gold my first bird lived for 46 years and I cared for him for 45 years. So I have been a blue and gold macaw owner for over 50 years.
How do you clip the wings of a blue and gold macaw. I am able to do his nails regularly but do not know where to cut the wings. I have not been able to schedule an appt with my vet he has not been seeing anyone. His wings are fully grown and I don’t want him to get out and fly away. Thank you.


Hi Barbara,

It’s definitely that time of year, and many pet bird owners are having the same issues with their birds. The good news is we just had two webinars on pet bird hormones that extensively covered behavioral issues like you described with Peach, so I will post those links below in case you would like to view those. Since you have a male, at least you don’t have the egg laying to deal with. But the behavior is enough! I’m not sure how you interact with Peach, but we have learned that when it comes to petting a bird, it is best to stick to head and neck scratches. In the wild, only a bonded mate would be allowed to groom another bird on the body. When we pet them on the back or chest and especially around the tail, this triggers hormones because we are sending the message that we are the mate.

Although you said more food helps, often it is best to cut back on fresh foods during this time because those can be a big trigger. And a lot of food is also a trigger. In the wild during breeding season, food is abundant, weather is warmer, days are longer – all of these things are in place year round in captivity. So we have to try to reverse some of this by limiting daylight hours and not offering as much food at a time, as well as being careful what foods to offer. Distraction is the best way to deal with unwanted mating attempts or other hormonal behavior. You might look into some simple trick training, as this can help build trust between you and gives him something he can do with you that doesn’t involve hormones and mating. It is also important that you don’t give him paper or similar materials to shred and don’t give him anything he can get inside of.

Some of this is worse right now because he is probably just getting sexually mature, but he is also exhibiting teenage behavior. Captive birds can have this hit together because they tend to mature much faster in captivity than in the wild. So basically you end up with a hormonal teenager on your hands who really isn’t sure what these urges are. I know you already had a Blue & Gold, but I’m sure you are finding out how different each bird can be. He may be challenging you in ways that your other bird never did.

Regarding the wing trimming, this is not something that can be easily described without a visual aid. And there are many ways to clip wings or one wing. Experts vary on what they feel is best and trims range from trimming one wing to trimming both. It also depends on how much you need or want to slow him down. Some trims make them drop like a brick, some trims allow a slow downward glide and some allow flying but with more effort. With any trim, if he got outside, he could manage to fly with even the most extreme wing trim because he can get lift from the air. There are websites with diagrams and ultimately you need to determine which trim is best for you and Peach. It can be hard for one person to do, also. If the wing is not held properly, he can easily break it by moving the wrong way. And of course you have to be careful not to cut any blood feathers.

I do think you can benefit by watching the webinars on pet bird hormones by Dr. Stephanie Lamb. She covers ways to work with hormonal behavior in both webinars.

Webinar: “Spring Is In the Air: How To Deal With Your Pet Bird’s Hormonal Behavior!”

Webinar: “Pet Birds & Hormonal Behavior: Part 2!”

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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