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Dear Parrots magazine,

Selling unweaned parrots

I found the article in the July issue entitled “Roco gets out and about” deeply disturbing. The writer had purchased a Military Macaw at the age of seven weeks from a pet store in the Dublin area. Selling unweaned parrots is not only unethical but it shows no duty of care or concern for the bird’s future by the breeder. Only a breeder who was more interested in a rapid income from a pair of birds would consider such an irresponsible act.

Anyone who hand-rears parrots must be committed to looking after the young for between four and seven months depending on the species. Few large macaws are truly weaned before the age of five months. They can usually start to feed on their own before then but the psychological effects of selling such sensitive and sentient birds at an early age are very damaging. This is seldom realised. On the internet I found this totally inaccurate and harmful piece of information:

“At about 3 months of age, baby Macaws are ready to be weaned from hand-feeding. This means that the bird can learn to start pecking at whole food and digesting it on its own, and the formula can be eliminated.” (March 3rd 2022)

To suggest that you can stop hand-feeding rearing food (formula) to a macaw chick at the age of three months is totally wrong and deeply harmful. It is typical of breeders who do not have the time and the patience to carry out the most difficult part of rearing chicks. Buyers beware!

Breeders should realise that it is unethical to sell unweaned chicks. In fact, in some countries it is illegal. In the UK Defra’s information is: “The purchase or sale of any of the following is prohibited –

(a) unweaned mammals
(b) mammals weaned at an age at which they should not have been weaned
(c) non-mammals that are incapable of feeding themselves”.

Clearly macaws belong in category (c).

Nothing makes me more angry than the early sale or forced weaning of parrots because this has a profound negative impact throughout their whole lives. It often results in them having multiple homes due to ‘behavioural issues’. The issues are with the breeder, not with the bird.

Rosemary Low, by email




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