Q: I am considering boarding our blue-and-gold macaw at a facility in Southern California. The birds are kept in a garage in small sleep cages at night. From 9:00 to 4:30, they are put outdoors on tree-branch perches. The garage is dark and has spider webs in the rafters (high above the birds). Can you explain the benefits vs. the risks of this environment? What temperatures are healthy for blue & golds? (Some of the birds appeared to be shivering.) What questions should I be asking the facility? What should I be concerned about
Our bird is never taken outdoors unattended, and when we do take him outside, it is usually only for an hour or two. My concerns stem from the unknown or the fact that, two years ago, we moved from the very cold winters of Pa. This is not a concern here, since average daytime temperatures in the winter in this area are in the low 60s. Our bird is 11 years old. We purchased him as a baby at 2 months. He is exceptionally tame and trusting of me. His wing feathers are trimmed, and he is deathly allergic to pine and/or peanuts. Since he will be there for three weeks, I don’t know if this is the right place to board him.
The outdoor grounds are relatively clean and have large trees to provide shade. Only part of the area has a net overhead. The facility has some rescue birds and encourages the public to stop by and visit with the birds. The birds are fed twice a day and given fresh fruits and veggies daily. An avian vet clinic is on the property. All birds that are boarded are required to have a vet health check prior to their stay.
My other option is a small cage indoors with no other stimulation. A vet can be called in an emergency. Birds being boarded are not required to have a vet health check prior to boarding.
Kashmir Csaky explains:
From your description, the facility sounds nice and I expect that they would clean away any cobwebs if you were to point them out. I find it very reassuring that they have an avian veterinarian on the premises.
Healthy adult macaws can tolerate temperatures from 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Ask them what they do to ensure the birds’ safety and comfort if the temperature drops too low or climbs too high. Birds are often able to tolerate low temperatures much better than we imagine. High temperatures are generally more dangerous than low temperatures.
In your particular case, I am concerned about the public coming onto the site and handling the birds at the facility. I am worried that someone might slip your bird a peanut. Therefore, you should ask what precautions they will take to guarantee that no one gives your bird any peanuts or pine nuts.
There are no tests for some contagious diseases. This means that any time your bird is around other birds; your bird is at risk of exposure to a disease that might kill him. All birds in a boarding facility should have health examinations and diagnostic tests prior to admission. This will not guarantee that your bird will not suffer exposure to contagious diseases. It only reduces the chance. I would never recommend boarding a bird at a facility that does not require a health check prior to admittance.
Make certain that the place you choose is licensed and insured. Ask the boarding facilities if they are members of The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, which sets standards for the industry.
Judging from your question and your special concerns, you might be happier with a pet/house sitter. Your bird would not have to leave your home. The sitter would stay in your house and feed your bird the foods that your bird is accustomed to eating. The sitter should take your bird out and play with him regularly. If he gets sick, the sitter should have your permission to take the bird to your regular veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian.