Hyacinth macaw is the largest of all parrots. It is a rare and threatened species that should be kept only by a very dedicated owner who can provide for needs that are as large as the bird itself. This is a bird that is more common in zoos than it is in private homes—and for a good reason. It is a rare owner who has the time, patience, and financial resources to care for a unique and sensitive bird that is nearly as large as a bald eagle.
ADULT SIZE: 40 inches from head to tail, a wingspan of 4 feet, weighing 2.6 to 3.7 pounds
LIFE EXPECTANCY: Can live more than 60 years
Temperament and personality
Though somewhat frightening in appearance due to its enormous size and powerful, sharp hooked beak, the hyacinth macaw is something of a gentle giant. Hyacinths are quite gentle by nature. They are easily trained by positive reinforcement and tend to bond strongly with their human caregivers.
Hyacinth macaws have a wide variety of vocalizations, ranging from deep guttural growls and loud screeching to high trills. They are also capable of purring. They tend to make more noise when they form a large flock.
Care and Housing
Hyacinth macaws are a handful to care for, so before seeking a breeder, check with animal rescue organizations and adoption agencies on the chance that a bird may have been given up by someone unable to care for it. Beyond this, macaws are not commonly sold in pet stores, so seek out a breeder specializing in this specimen.
These birds demand more time and attention than other species, so hyacinth macaws are not the right pets for just anybody. Large, beautiful, and intelligent, they can be quite alluring, but resist the temptation to bring a hyacinth home without thoroughly thinking it through. Caring for this bird is an enormous undertaking that demands a long-time commitment.
As might be expected with such a large bird, a hyacinth macaw requires a spacious area to live. There are very few commercial cages large enough for this bird, and almost none that the bird cannot break out of. Many owners find that a custom-designed cage is necessary, although a full room dedicated to the parrot is even better. This bird needs space to fly about—also if it has had its wing feathers trimmed.
Most regular cages can easily be turned to rubble by the powerful beak. If you must keep the bird in a cage, the best bet is a cage made of stainless steel. Stainless steel cages are far more durable and long-lasting and the benefits of owning one for years outweigh the cost in the long run. A stainless steel cage is a worthwhile investment.
Hyacinth macaws can be very destructive, and it is critical that the cage has lots of wooden toys and branches to chew on. You should expect to replace these frequently.
A hyacinth macaw’s beak is a powerful tool, which means that they must be taught at an early age not to “mouth” their human caregivers, no matter how gently. Thankfully, they are usually quite docile and easygoing and seem to enjoy learning and human companionship. Like virtually all parrots, the hyacinth macaw is a highly social animal that requires a lot of interaction with its human caregiver in order to be emotionally happy. Neglected, confined birds are often described as “neurotic,” given to screaming, destructiveness, and self-mutilating behaviors such as feather-plucking. If they receive plenty of attention, though, they will prove to be among the friendliest of the macaw species, exceedingly interested in humans.
Although not the most fluent talkers of the macaws, a hyacinth can learn a few words and phrases, which will repeat incessantly. They are highly intelligent, and may even learn to use those words in the proper context.
They do well on a diet of fruit, vegetables, leafy greens and plenty of nuts, particularly the macadamia nut, as they require more carbohydrates than other parrot species. A pet hyacinth macaw diet should be supplemented daily with a high-quality pelleted diet and some healthy seed such as flax, hemp, and chia seed. Do be careful to avoid treats that are high in fat because pet parrots can gain excess weight and even become obese.