Chaco The Red Fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys)

Goofy Bird

About Chaco

Chaco is Merlin's brother and was born on May 7th, 2004. We had previously tried to take him home several years ago but he pair bonded with Merlin and we had to return him. Over the course of a couple years people took and returned Chaco to the aviary. I've never understood what the problem was because he was always sweet with us. Jen convinced me to bring him home with us for a week or two here and there and consider taking him permanently when we moved to a bigger house. We went out in January of 2008 and picked him up to bring home with us. On the drive home he leaned forward and said 'CHACO!!'. We were pretty much hosed after that as the week turned to two and then to months. It wasn't always easy as he had attachment issues and would scream when we left the room and get fearful for no reason. It was also clear that one of his previous owners was not kind to him as he would go into fits where he would sream 'BAD CHACO, CHACO IS A BAD, BAD, BIRD, NO, NO, NO' all the while shaking his head back and forth with his foot in it. He would also develop strange fears of hands for no reason.

Chaco is a prime example of why I think people should need to be licensed to own birds. I believe they need to exist in aviculture to protect the species but people get them without understanding what they entail. When I look at Chaco I am reminded of a passage in The Fox and the Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose. . ."

Now Jen and I aren't experts by any stretch but we do know a thing or two about birds and were able to get him through this stage. He is now a sweet little fellow who likes to fall asleep on our shoulders and plays with us and is recall trained. He has already picked up words like 'Peak a boo', 'hi', 'good bird', etc. I've also gotten him out on a good few walks around the area including up Green Mountain several times. It looks like the Red Fronts in my house have expanded.

So far Ariel hates Chaco (probably because we stuck him in her cage and put the divider in) but he and Merlin get along as long as Chaco doesn't go near Ariel (of whom Merlin is very protective).

Update - September 8th, 2008. Chaco has come a long way. He is much more talktative, playful, and friendly. Yesterday he took off flying on one of our walks without any prompting and is slowly gaining more confidence in himself. Chaco still has a host of seperation issues but he is improving. Chaco also has surprised us by demonstrating a huge vocabulary and the ability to learn words very quickly. He picks up words quite a bit faster than Merlin does.

Update - September 10th, 2009.  Chaco now perches with Merlin and screams much less than he used to.  He is finally getting integrated into our little flock and no longer seems terrified of everything.  It has taken almost two years to get him to be a normal red front.  This is a good lesson for people thinking about rescuing.  It takes a ot of patience and I wanted to get rid of him several times when he would go into screaming fits or fly away from anyone that approached him in a terrified manner.  These days he is just happy.

Read more about Red Fronts from a great aviary Avalon's Red Front Page

© 2009 Jared Workman