Macaws require a great deal of attention, living space and owner knowledge. Macaws are generally intelligent, highly interactive parrots. Blue and gold macaws have a mischievous nature and are the most family-oriented macaw species, even though they may be nervous around strangers. Although scarlet macaws tend to bond with an individual person, they can be untrustworthy and nippy with anyone. Green-winged macaws are less intimidating and calmer but can be very loud. Macaws have limited ability to mimic words. Loud shrieks and squawks may become a problem. Macaws are relatively difficult to breed (with the exception of blue and golds), but the offspring are easy to hand raise. Macaws become aggressive and protective of their nest box during the breeding season.
Body length: 12-39 inches (30-100 cm)
Body weight: 200-1500 grams
Age of sexual maturity: mini 4-6 years, large 5-7 years
Maximum life span: 50 years
Is your Macaw a male or a female?
In most macaw species it is difficult to distinguish a male from a female based on physical characteristics; therefore, endoscopy or laboratory methods must be used for sex determination in breeding facilities.
What do Macaws do all day?
Macaws are playful and love to chew, but they can be very destructive. They require frequent training and structured play to focus their energies. Any toys must be free of toxic metals, hooks, sharp objects and easily consumed components. Providing large diameter fresh-cut branches from non-toxic, pesticide-free trees is suggested for macaws. Check with your veterinarian for recommendations on locally available safe trees.
Are Macaws tame?
Young, hand-raised macaws adapt readily to new surroundings and handling procedures. They should be exposed early in life to novel situations (car travel, hospital visits, multiple visitors in the household, other household pets) so that they are well adjusted to these events. However, behavior abnormalities are common. Imprinted hand-raised macaws may scream for attention and frequently become feather pickers. Social regurgitation to family members may be pronounced. Discipline, leadership, patience, a sense of ritual and the offering of rewards are necessary to modify the behavior of macaws.
How to identify your bird
One method used to permanently identify your macaw in case of loss or escape is for your avian veterinarian to inject a custom microchip under the skin. Although individually numbered leg bands or rings may be applied, this method is unreliable and may result in potential damage to the bird.
Why the wings should be clipped
Macaws that are allowed unrestricted access in the home can encounter numerous physical dangers or toxins (as well as cause significant destruction); therefore, wing clipping is recommended. The goal of clipping the wings is not to make the bird incapable of flight, but to prevent it from developing rapid and sustained flight and to prevent escape. Trimming the wings may keep the bird more dependent on its owner and less aggressive.
How to keep your Macaw healthy, happy and safe
- Give lots of attention.
- Feed a fresh, high quality, toxin-free formulated diet with daily supplementation of chopped vegetables and fruit according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Grit is not necessary with modern captive bird diets.
- Provide clean, fresh uncontaminated water.
- Replace food and water containers twice daily to maximize activity in a healthy bird.
- Provide an occasional opportunity for bath, shower or misting (at least weekly).
- Avoid spraying house with insecticides.
Housing for your Macaw should:
- be as large as possible.
- be clean, secure and safe and easy to service.
- be constructed of durable, nontoxic material (avoid zinc).
- contain variable-sized perches made of clean, nontoxic, pesticide-free tree branches.
- have food and water containers placed at opposite ends of the enclosure.
- avoid having perches located directly over food containers.
- contain toys and accessories that are moved around occasionally to prevent boredom and aggression.
- offer occasional opportunity for protected outdoor exposure to fresh air, sunlight (not through glass) and exercise.