Macaws are beautiful and extremely graceful parrots. These birds are not mainly known for their talking abilities, though they can imitate human speech and can be magnificent companion birds. Macaws are renowned for their size, their long tail feathers, their very big vocalizing, and their powerful beaks!
The Hyacinth Macaw is the giant flying parrot. Its wings span over 4 feet, and it is over 36″ in length! This gorgeous macaw weighs up to three and a half pounds! But not all macaws are large birds. The smallest macaw is the Hahn’s Macaw, (Red-shouldered Macaw) and it is a fraction of the size of a Hyacinth. Hahn’s Macaws are between 12-14″ in length and are referred to sometimes as ‘mini-macaws.’
There are eighteen species of macaws, though five of those are already extinct. The Spix’s Macaw (Little Blue Macaw) is extinct in the wild, and the Glaucous Macaw is considered to be critically endangered or already gone.
One physical characteristic that separates macaws from other parrots is their facial features. Macaws have bare patches of skin on their faces, and these can vary in size depending on the species of macaw. For example, the yellow ring around a Hyacinth Macaw’s eyes isn’t feathers; it’s the color of its skin! Each macaw’s face is unique, and the feather patterns are similar to human fingerprints: there are no two alike in the world!
Origin and History
Macaws are “New World” parrots, meaning they are found only in the Western Hemisphere of the world. Macaws are native to Mexico, Central, and South America. They can be found in rainforested areas, as well as in woodlands and on savannahs.
Macaws do an incredible job of blending in with their environment. With their brilliant rainbow-colored feathers, they camouflage themselves with the foliage (leaves and branches of plants and trees) and with the fruits and vegetables that they include in their diets.
Macaws are brilliant, social birds. In the wild, macaws can be found in flocks of ten to thirty birds. With a long lifespan (at least 50+ years), they are known to mate for life. When the female macaw lays her eggs (usually two to three), the male’s role is to provide food for her as she sits on the clutch until the eggs hatch in approximately 26-28 days.
The macaws’ diet in the wild consists mainly of fruits, seeds, flowers and stems, nuts, insects, and snails! Some macaws are also known to eat the clay from river banks. Some scientists believe that this helps them to digest some of the foods that they eat!
SIZE: Larger macaw species range from about 20 inches up to 42 inches, including their long tails; mini macaws are more manageable at 10 to 20 inches in length.
LIFE EXPECTANCY: 30 to 80years; the more significant the macaw, the longer the life expectancy.
Origin and History
Macaws are large, colorful South American parrots. So-called “New World” parrots have been known to Europeans since the 1400s, as Columbus mentioned them in his logs.
Most species of macaws are endangered, and a few (such as the Spix’s Macaw and glaucous Macaw) are almost certainly extinct. Problems faced by macaws in the wild include deforestation (loss of habitat) and illegal trapping. While most macaws are captured for the pet trade, some are also captured and killed for their beautiful plumage.
Macaws are playful and active, and they have exuberant personalities to go along with their sizes. But this also makes them very challenging pets. Macaws that are not regularly handled or have hormonal imbalances, drastic environmental changes, or little mental stimulation can become aggressive, territorial, destructive, and problematic. A well-cared-for macaw that receives appropriate nutrition, mental stimulation, enrichment, attention, and space makes a unique, long-lived companion that is very affectionate and loyal.
Macaws are loud and noisy. Their vocalizations can be more than some people can tolerate, and they can scream when they want to. They do have the ability to say words and mimic your speech, but it is not as bright as some other pet bird species.
Because they are so intelligent, macaws can be trained. You can start when your pet is young and work on hand-feeding, teaching your bird to talk or sing, and preparing your Macaw not to nip, bite, or scream in your ear. You may also discover that you and your Macaw can share jokes and enjoy various types of interactive play.
Caring for Companion Macaws
Life with a macaw parrot is a long-term commitment. These stunning birds live for approximately 60 years. Some of the more common companion macaw species include the Blue and Gold Macaws, Greenwing Macaws, Hahn’s Macaws, Hyacinth Macaws, Illiger’s Macaws, Military Macaws, Scarlet Macaws Severe Macaws, Catalina Macaws, and Yellow-collared Macaw.
For the most part, macaws are large birds that require big enclosures a minimum of 15 m (50 feet) in length, where they can fly for at least part of the year. In their natural habitat, macaws spend much of their days flying around, foraging for food. In companion care, they enjoy a tasty variety of sprouted seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, wholemeal bread, cubes of cheese, as well as nutritionally complete kibble.
Macaws are vigorous chewers that require plenty of unsprayed bird-safe branches and perches such as fir, pine, willow, and elder to sink their beaks into. Heat sterilized pine cones, wooden and leather toys also provide a lot of chewable satisfaction. Other good sources of enrichment include swings, ladders, and complex toys to help keep their active minds engaged and prevent feather plucking and other damaging behaviors.
Macaws, like other parrots, should be supervised while they are enjoying their toys to ensure that they don’t accidentally swallow toy parts or otherwise injure themselves.
Macaw Cage Supplies
Big macaws have higher needs for durable bird supplies. These large to extra large parrots are just as busy and curious as to other parrots, but due to the size of their bodies, beaks, and feet, they could quickly destroy cage accessories designed for medium-sized parrots.
Macaw Sized Food Cups
Inquisitive, Macaw’s and other large parrots will play with their food cups and sometimes even pick them up and toss them! Large Macaw’s need heavy-duty food cups. Weighty Ceramic Macaw sized food dishes are the right choice if they fit in your birdcage; however, they are hard to find. Most modern birdcage manufacturers use easy to replace stainless steel cups for macaw cages.
Macaw Sized Bird Perches
Large macaws have big feet! Two big feet to match that big sharp beak. They need very hardwood bird perches with a thick diameter. Our favorite Macaw Perch is the Conditioning Perch by Sandy Perch. Jumbo-sized bird perches are the best. We also have a very thick Dragonwood Perch that offers a fantastic perching experience for Large Macaw’s.
Macaw Sized Water Bottles
Your large Macaw Parrot needs a Large Water Bottle with a Tuff Tip. Try our Lixit 32 oz. Tuff Tip Water Bottle. Most macaws can’t destroy the water bottle tip.
Variety is the key when it comes to Macaw food. Healthy Macaw foods include fresh fruits, vegetables, dark leafy greens, nuts, and a high-quality mixture of large hookbill seed such as Volkman Avian Super Science Macaw Food.
Vet Recommended Macaw Diets
Well-balanced parrot food diets such as Harrison’s Bird Food are the recommended staple Macaw food for all sized Macaws. Organic Sprouts provide fresh macaw food bursting with nutrients. Discard any uneaten fresh foods within a few hours to avoid bacterial contamination.