Providing Visual Barriers

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Q: I have a 15- by 7-meter indoor breeding facility in Buenos Aires, Argentina. All of our cages are suspended. I have most of the large macaws, as well as golden conures, sun conures, African greys and Eclectus. We also have two male hyacinth macaws that share one of the flight cages. Unfortunately, only the hyacinths show reproductive behavior. They mate frequently, and they are extremely noisy. Would it be advisable to put some type of visual barrier between the hyacinths’ cage and the other cages?

A: Your hyacinth macaws are not involved in reproductive behavior. What they are involved in is threat behavior. Hyacinth macaws do not act at all like any of the macaws from the genus Ara. They engage in a form of mock copulation as a territorial threat behavior. If, as you say, they are involved in this with some frequency, then this means two things. First, they are unhappy with all of the Ara macaws looking on. Second, they are continually threatening all the Ara macaws that can see or hear them. In a case like this, they are most definitely causing problems. I agree with your thoughts of employing the use of visual blinds.

If the hyacinths were a pair, I would suggest moving them to a far corner of your facility so they can settle down to breed. Since they are not a pair, I will suggest removing them from the facility completely. Because they are both males, they will never settle down to breed. Therefore, there is always the potential negative of having them continually sounding off in your breeding facility without any possibility of a positive outcome (production).

It is always a bad idea to house bachelor birds around pairs. As far as all of your smaller birds are concerned, they will feel intimidated not only by the hyacinths, all of the other large macaws will have a negative effect on their feeling of territorial integrity as well. Whenever you judge a situation in your breeding facility, always consider Voren’s First Law of Aviculture: If the possible effects are neutral to negative, eliminate. If they are neutral to positive, initiate.