The Macaw

Quick Facts

- Best for experienced bird owners
- Best solo
- Medium to large size
- High activity level
- High trainability
- High sociability with people

The Macaw is a type of parrot that was domesticated at least a thousand years ago. At one time, they were pets to the rich and affluent like royalty and high-ranking priests. In the wild, there are about 17 different species of Macaw, the majority have been domesticated and are available in most countries worldwide.

Macaws are moderately popular pet birds due to their beautiful exotic appearance and great intelligence. However, as they are one of the more demanding and expensive of the pet birds, they are not as popular as many of the other types.

Macaws are very social birds that need a lot of attention; without it, they can become aggressive or depressed. They are demanding birds that require a dedicated experienced owner. They are highly intelligent and need daily mental stimulation. They need toys and games to help keep them busy. Macaws enjoy parrot puzzles and interlocking toys they can work and play with. They also enjoy learning tricks and to talk. When bored, Macaws can be notorious chewers; they will chew furniture, doorframes and pretty well anything and everything they can get near. They should be given small blocks of untreated wood to chew on.

Macaws are definitely not for everyone. They are noisy birds that may have a “screech attack” that may last for minutes to a couple of hours, definitely not bird for noise sensitive people. They can be aggressive and may bite, and are not appropriate for homes with young children; their beaks are so strong they could break a child’s finger with one bite. Some Macaws enjoy living with another of their kind, but most prefer living solo.

Macaws are demanding, high maintenance birds. They need a very large cage that is well equipped with lots of fun interactive toys; they enjoy climbing ropes, chew toys and interactive puzzles and games. At a minimum, a Macaw’s cage should be around 3 feet by 2 feet by 5 feet. Macaws need daily exercise and even the largest cage usually does not offer enough room for them to really stretch their wings and fly around. They should be allowed out for at least an hour each day to fly around and explore. When allowing them out of their cage owners should ensure that all windows and doors are securely shut, ceiling fans are off and all water, including the toilet bowl, are cover. Macaws are very strong flyers and can be gone in moments if they get outside. Some people get their Macaw's wings clipped; this is to stop them from being able to fly off. Wing clipping only allows the bird to fly short distances.

Appearance and Care:
Macaws range in size from around 24 inches from tail to head, to 40 inches. The larger Macaw breeds can have a wingspan of around three feet. They are beautiful parrots that are available in a myriad of colours. They come in blue, green, bright red, brown, gold, dark yellow, maroon, or any combination of these colours.

Like all pet birds, Macaws need regular baths or light mist showers to keep them clean. Due to their tropical heritage, Macaws love water and most enjoy having baths several times weekly. In most cases, giving a Macaw a bath is very easy; simply fill a large deep bowl with water and the bird will do the rest. Occasionally, the rare Macaw does not like baths, so will require a weekly light mist shower with warm water.

Health and Diet:
Macaws are hardy long-lived birds with an average life span of 30-80 years. They are generally healthy birds, but are susceptible to a few health ailments that affect most parrots. Owners should watch for parrot flu, polyoma, Psittacosis, Pacheco’s disease, obesity and candidisasis. Sick Macaws will ashow signs of inactivity, noisy breathing, lack of activity and appetite, sneezing, weight loss, bleeding, droopy wings and ruffled feathers. At the first signs of illness, Macaws should be taken to their veterinarian. It is recommended that any new birds being brought into a home with pre-existing birds be quarantined for 30 days to ensure they are healthy and not carrying a contagious disease.

A balanced diet is very important in maintaining the good health of a Macaw. They should be fed a diet of seeds and pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables. A good quality Macaw seed or pellets can be purchased at most pet stores. All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed to ensure they are clean of pesticides. Most Macaws enjoy melons, grated carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, nuts, oranges, apples and bananas. Fruit should always be carefully deseeded before feeding as most fruit seeds contain cyanide and are dangerous. Their water should be changed at least once a day.


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