In the wild, blue and gold macaws are found from Panama in Central America, extending into almost every country of northern South America. They have also been introduced in Puerto Rico.
They typically live in the forests near rivers and swamps, though they can be found in savannas if tall trees are available. They are most often seen in pairs but will gather in large flocks at certain times of the year and during morning and evening foraging for food.
Wild blue and golds are an endangered species. Much of their population decline has been due to habitat destruction, hunting, and trapping. Quite often, the young birds were taken directly from the nest, intended for the pet trade, and many of the defensive parents have died while protecting their babies.
Among the most popular and common species of macaws to keep as pets, blue and golds have been bred in the United States since 1935. Breeders are readily available and their prevalence makes them one of the most affordable large parrots.
The blue and gold macaw is intelligent and sociable and does well as a pet when the owners are dedicated, responsible, and well informed. When allowed to socialize with a variety of people, blue and golds do very well adapting to various situations. Around the house, these macaws can be as friendly as a dog. They enjoy being near their owners and will often wander around looking for someone who can give them attention. Their sweet personality is sure to make you drop whatever you're doing for a little play time. Yet, they can also be quite content on their perch, watching the activity around them.
The males and females are barely distinguishable because this is a monomorphic species. It's believed that the male has a flatter head and the female has a narrower beak, but the only way to prove the sex of this macaw is through surgical or DNA sexing.
Blue and gold macaws are active birds, and they love to climb, swing, bounce, and chew. Owners should provide a minimum of two to three hours of playtime outside of the cage each day so the bird can stretch and exercise his muscles. Strong toys are a must as these birds have powerful jaw muscles, so chewing and gnawing is necessary to keep them healthy and in shape. Chewable toys made of leather and wood are a great choice. The more nooks and crannies in the toy, the better. That big beak loves to investigate those little corners and crack them wide open.
The cage and perch should be big enough to comfortably house such a large bird, with lots of room to stretch his wings, hop and climb around, and keep himself occupied. Some owners even have a dedicated bird room. Do be careful, though, the blue and gold is known for being destructive in a home that is not completely bird-proof. They will chew almost anything, including electrical wires, jewelry, and furniture.
Captive blue and gold macaw's diet should include a high-quality seed mix and as many different types of fresh foods as possible. Fresh vegetables, including leafy greens and root vegetables, are required as well. Do be careful to avoid treats that are high in fat because pet parrots can gain excess weight and even become obese.
As with most large parrots, bringing a blue and gold into your family is a commitment for a lifetime because they can live 80 to 100 years.