A vibrant-coloured bird with a lively personality, the macaw is an eye-catcher. It is extremely fond of its family and it brings so much delight to spend fun times with it. Its sweet, loving, yet funny and mischievous personality makes it an endearing family pet.
Where are macaws native to?
The macaw is native to Mexico, South America, and Central America. Since 1,100 A.D., it was kept as a pet by the Pueblo Indians. The scarlet macaw is highly prized by the tribe.
There is also evidence that some of them such as the Cuban macaw and Saint Croix macaw used to exist in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, these species are now extinct. Macaw is mainly a treetop dweller. Thus, it can be commonly found in rainforests, grassy woodlands, canopies of tropical forests, and grasslands.
Are macaws endangered?
Several types of macaw are facing a serious threat of extinction. In the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, nine species are gravely endangered. The Lear’s macaw, great green macaw, and red-fronted macaw are considered endangered.
Meanwhile, the blue-headed macaw, hyacinth macaw, and military macaw are listed are vulnerable. The blue-throated macaw, glaucous macaw, and Spix’s macaw are listed as critically endangered.
Since some of the macaw species in the pet trade are endangered in the wild, they are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This includes the hyacinth macaw, military macaw, red-fronted macaw, and scarlet macaw.
CITES requires bird owners to have the appropriate paperwork, such as an issued export permit as proof that their pets are legally acquired. Birds found in this list are mandated to have microchips or leg rings for the sake of identification.
Are you keen on having the fun-loving bird as your family pet? Get the right one for you by checking the Macaw For or Sale page.
What does a macaw look like?
Small macaw breeds like the Hahn’s macaw or red-shouldered macaw can grow up to 30 cm. Large breeds such as the scarlet macaw and hyacinth macaw are around 85–100 cm long. They usually weigh between 1.4 and 2.7 kg.
In general, it has a slim body, elongated wings, long tail feathers, and a tapered tail. It also possesses a huge head and a big, sturdy beak.
The macaw is a very vibrant and colourful bird with plenty of colour variations. Its feathers seem to include every colour in the rainbow. It is difficult to tell its gender since it is dimorphic. Thus, it needs to undergo the surgical sexing procedure or genetic testing to ascertain if it is male or female.
READ: 8 Best Pet Bird Breeds
How big should the cage be?
Small macaw breeds are approximately 30 cm in length. The minimum cage size for these birds is 24″x24″x18″. For large breeds that can grow about 85–100 cm, they need at least a 5″x6″x3″ cage.
They have a strong beak that can bite and destroy cage’s wires if it’s too thin. It would be good to invest in wrought iron or stainless steel cages. Make sure that the steel bars are around 3 mm thick.
Moreover, the enclosure’s bar spacing should not be more than 3 mm thick. This is to avoid accidents of your macaw’s head, legs, or wings getting stuck and injured on the bar spacing.
Note that macaw parrot is a skilled escape artist, so be sure to thoroughly check the mechanism of the cage’s lock. Add perches inside its cage as it promotes exercise and prevents arthritis. The size should be at least 30 cm long and 2.8 cm in diameter.
How to care for a macaw
Clean your bird’s cage and items regularly to avoid bacteria or allergen ingestion. Wash its food and water bowls every day to prevent the accumulation of harmful bacteria or fungi. Clean and wipe down its cage, including the floors and perches, every week.
Full sanitation and cleaning of the enclosure must be done at least once a year. Be sure to use bird-safe cleaning products to prevent the risk of poisoning.
The macaw needs plenty of time to exercise and explore outside its cage. Give it at least two to four hours of freedom inside a spacious and secure room. Do not forget to provide it with lots of attention during its playtime too.
They are highly sociable birds. Lack of interaction can lead to the development of behaviour problems such as plucking of feathers and self-mutilation.
Another way to inhibit destructive habits is by providing them with many toys. This will keep it busy and stops it from feeling bored. The macaw bird loves to chew. So, offer it different chew toys such as bird-safe chunks of wood, newspapers, phone books, tissue boxes, and non-toxic tree branches.
Let it enjoy other bird toys, including parrot swings, bird ladders, and large link chains. Rotate and change toys at least once a week to keep it interested in playing them. Give it mineral blocks as well. It helps in keeping its beak from becoming deformed or overgrown.
Are macaws good pets?
The macaw parrot is a feisty bird with a knack for comical antics. Sometimes it may land itself in trouble for being so vivacious, but that’s one of the joys of owning one. There are over eighteen existing macaw species; however, only a handful are kept as pets. The blue-and-gold macaw, green-winged macaw, Hahn’s macaw, hyacinth macaw, military macaw, scarlet macaw, and severe macaw are commonly welcomed as family companions.
These birds are monogamous; therefore, they form a strong bond with only one person, which is their owners. The Macaw constantly craves affection from its favourite human. If this need is not met, it may suffer from depression and other mental and physical issues.
Whilst the macaw parrot is sweet towards its owner, it can be indifferent towards strangers. It would take time for it to warm up and open up to other people. Children and the macaw can get along well provided that children are properly taught how to gently handle these types of birds. With that said, supervision is still a must to prevent accidents.
Another important thing to know about this bird is its inherent trait of being loud and noisy. In the wild, a macaw’s voice can be heard from at least five miles away. This behaviour can be somewhat suppressed in pet macaws, but it cannot be completely removed.
Most mature macaw parrots will produce around five to ten minutes of noise as a habit. Thus, this bird is not recommended for people living in apartments or other close quarters.
Can macaws talk?
A macaw bird can learn how to mimic words and phrases. However, it does not speak clearly as other known ‘talker’ parrot breeds like the African grey. They can also be taught how to imitate the sound of a whistle and other household noises. The best talking large macaw breed is the blue-and-gold, whilst for the mini macaw, it is the Hahn’s.
What do macaws eat?
A macaw’s diet consists of water, pellets, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. Offer it fresh water every day to keep it properly hydrated. 50% of its daily diet should be made up of premium-quality pellets. 10% is for seeds and nuts. Limit the amount of these foods in its diet as they have high-fat content.
The rest of its diet is should be composed of fruits and vegetables. Be sure to thoroughly wash and remove any pits and seeds before serving them to your macaw. Listed below are vegetables and fruits that are healthy and safe for it to eat:
- Green beans
How long do macaws live?
In captivity, a macaw can live around thirty to fifty years depending on the breed. Its longevity will depend on how it is properly cared for. Thus, it is important for prospective bird owners to consistently provide a happy home environment, spacious and clean housing, and healthy and balanced meals for their macaw parrots.
Health also plays an important role in determining the lifespan of your pet bird. The macaw is prone to several health issues. Below are the most common health problems this bird breed is susceptible to:
- Beak malocclusion
- Proventricular dilatation disease (PDD)
- Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD)
Be aware of the first signs of illnesses as well. Excessive sneezing, appetite loss, lethargy, red or swollen eyes, discharge from the eyes or nose, and unkempt feathers are few tell-tale signs that it may be sick. Be sure to bring your macaw parrot to the vet for medical treatment.
Cost of Ownership
How much does it cost to own a macaw?
Buying a healthy macaw from a reputable breeder may cost around £1,156. Total expenses for food may reach between £300 and £400 annually. The cost for purchasing its cage is around £100–£400 depending on its size. Add around £40–£70 to buy basic supplies such as carrier and food and water bowls.
You may need to spend approximately £40 for bird toys, stands, and perches. Fees for each session of vet check-ups are at least £30, whilst microchipping is £20. Getting pet insurance will require you to pay about £16.08 a month. The insurance fee may change depending on what kind of macaw you own
- The macaw is the largest breed amongst over 370 types of parrots.
- The beak of a macaw is quite strong. It is a useful tool for cracking open various nuts and seeds, especially for macaw parrots that live in the wild.
- Each macaw’s facial feather pattern is very distinctive, which makes it similar to fingerprints in humans.
Check out the Macaw For Sale page to find the perfect pet bird for you.