Macaws are loud. They're messy. They're territorial. All these cliches are true, to some extent, for every macaw I've ever met... With one exception: Lady Macbeth.
Lady is a young hyacinth macaw. I've been told by folks with more experience with this species than I have that she is fairly typical for her kind. She enjoys hanging upside down by one toe, sneaking a bit of what every you're having for lunch, and generally making herself the center of attention.
She also has a beak that she could open a coconut with. In the wild tough palm nuts are a favorite of her species. In captivity that same beak can be used for breaking open metal cages or even taking off a keeper's thumb. Lucky for us she's friendly!
If Lady were in the wild she would be one of only about 6,500 free-flying hyacinths. Parrots ingeneral aren't doing very well these days. The pet trade is taking a horrible toll (ironic since most people regret their parrot pet soon after acquiring it), and so is deforestation and climate change. Hyacinths are particularly vulnerable due to their beautiful coloration and reputation (mostly deserved) as good parrot citizens. They are also the biggest macaw species in the world, sometimes measuring over three feet including their tail feathers!
What most people don't know is that hyacinths in the wild
often mate for life. Taking one out of its flock, away from its family, and shoving it into a human family instead can lead to disaster. Many parrots die long before they ever reach their intended new home. Those that survive often have a very difficult time adapting; unlike a dog or cat, these are wild animals that have not been breed to understand people.
Happily, Lady was not removed from the wild, but was born in Florida to captive parents. She is an excellent ambassador for her wild brethren. Everyone who meets her wants to know more about these amazing birds. If you do too, check out parrots international, a great organization dedicated to parrot conservation and understanding. If you're ever lucky enough to meet a hyacinth, take a moment to appreciate what an incredible animal it is. Just be sure to keep your thumbs out of its beak!