Full Information, History, and Care for the Harlequin Macaw

Pair of red-and-green macaws interacting together.

The harlequin macaw is a stunning, well-liked that, in the right hands, makes a wonderful companion. Macaws are dependent animals that require knowledgeable or devoted parrot caretakers. This large macaw often gets along well with families since they like being around other animals and people a lot. They have affable attitudes, are terrific talkers, and are often funny.

Species Overview

Common Name: Harlequin macaw

Scientific Name: Hybrid Ara chloropterus x Ara ararauna

Adult Size: 35 and 40 inches long, weighing 2 to 3 1/2 pounds

Life Expectancy: 50 years, some may reach up to 80

Origin and History

There are two interpretations of the term "harlequin" that apply well to this bird. Its essence is nicely captured by the fact that, in one sense, it alludes to a joker or clown. Additionally, it might indicate "variations of color and design," which is a fitting definition for this lovely, rainbow-colored parrot.

It is extremely uncommon to locate harlequin macaws in the wild; they are only bred in captivity. Due to its ancestry from two "genuine" macaw species, the blue and gold macaw and the greenwing macaw, this bird is referred to as a first-generation hybrid. The outcome is a bird that has both of its parents' colors and traits.

The harlequin is also crossed with other true and hybrid macaws to produce second-generation hybrids. The most common macaws that have the harlequin's genes include:

  • Fiesta macaw: Crossed with a Camelot macaw
  • Harligold macaw: Crossed with a blue and gold macaw
  • Harlequin x shamrock macaw: Crossed with a shamrock macaw (hybrid)
  • Jubilee macaw: Crossed with a greenwing macaw
  • Maui sunrise macaw: Crossed with a Catalina macaw (hybrid)
  • Quatro macaw: Crossed with a ruby macaw (hybrid)
  • Tropicana macaw: Crossed with a scarlet macaw


The harlequin macaw is a hybrid that embodies "the finest of both worlds." The harlequin's parent species are often friendly, easygoing, and intelligent. They also have strong verbal skills. Fun tricks like waving, dancing, fetching, and other behaviors may be taught to them.

Although every bird is unique, they are typically thought of as enjoyable, amiable, and even humorous. Since they were raised among people, these macaws would probably enjoy the companionship of many different people throughout their lives. You don't want your birds to acquire a preference for either males or women, which might occur if they only interact with one or the other seldom.

A harlequin macaw will have moments of frustration and become cranky. Yet, it is an excellent choice for those who would like a large bird with an even temper and calm demeanor.

Speech and Vocalizations

All parrots have a tendency to be noisy, but macaws are the model species for deafening cries. Don't purchase a macaw if you don't want your parrot to wake you up in the morning by shouting at the top of its lungs. (On the plus side, if you use one of these birds as an alarm clock, you'll never miss an early flight!) Macaws are the best choice if you're seeking for a parrot that can carry on a conversation. With instruction, these birds may acquire a vocabulary of around 15 words.

Harlequin Macaw Colors and Markings

Harlequin macaws have a wide variation in their colors and patterns. They are often mistaken for Catalina macaws, which are another hybrid with similar coloration.

The predominant factor influencing a harlequin's color is whether the blue and gold or greenwing was the male father. Genes that predominate in males. The hue of a harlequin's breast and belly are the most noticeable examples of this variation. The breast will be reddish-orange if the father is blue and gold. The breast feathers will be a lighter shade of orange if the father is a greenwing.

The backs of the majority of harlequins are vivid shades of green and blue. On the underside of their tail feathers, they frequently have golden feathers. Without genetic or surgical sexing, it is very difficult to distinguish between men and females when harlequins are present.

Caring for the Harlequin Macaw

Expect to spend time with the bird every day as harlequin macaws demand a lot of socializing and handling. When a macaw is bored or feels ignored, it may act out by biting, damaging household items, or even engaging in self-mutilation and feather plucking.

These birds require a sizable cage that is at least 5-feet square and 8-feet tall, situated in an area without drafts. To keep it engaged when confined, it should have a perch and a ton of engaging toys. Every two months at the very least, or more frequently if it becomes dirty more quickly, the cage has to be cleaned. Your bird will enjoy taking baths in water and getting misted every so often.

Consider the commitment required to maintain a harlequin macaw carefully before making a hasty purchase. These birds not only have a lifespan of at least 50 years, but the price of veterinary care, premium food, toys, and cages can mount up rapidly. Consider delaying adopting a bird until you are sure you can provide it what it needs if you believe you can't.

Common Health Problems

In general, your macaw will stay healthy if you give it proper care. However, certain infections can still spread even with the utmost cleanliness. They may experience behavioral issues as well. Your bird may turn to feather or skin picking if it becomes bored or feels neglected by you.

Some of the more common illnesses seen in macaws:

  • Proventricular dilation disease, a digestive system condition also called macaw wasting disease
  • Psittacosis, a bacterial infection also called chlamydiosis or parrot fever
  • Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
  • Beak malformations in chicks

Diet and Nutrition

Macaws are a very high energy bird. For good health, they will need foods rich in oils and calories. In the wild, macaws eat a variety of palm nuts, seeds, and fruit.

Feed high-quality seed and a specially developed pellet mix to harlequin macaws. Daily portions of fresh, and should also be included. Depending on its size, each macaw will consume between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of parrot mix and between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of fruits and each day. It will also require daily access to clean drinking water.

Fruits such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, grapes, oranges, bananas, mangos, papayas, and even berries like strawberries and blueberries should be offered on a rotating basis. Feed your pet vegetables like dandelions, chickweed, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables, and many garden vegetables. Never give birds avocado; it is poisonous to them.

You may prepare the fruit and vegetable salad in advance and portion out each day's rations using the "chop" technique to make meal preparation easier.


Harlequin macaws require a lot of exercise, and pet parrots are prone to obesity. Activities keep their bodies in good shape and provide them the necessary mental stimulation. By touching your harlequin macaw frequently and giving it lots of toys, you can keep it engaged.

Be prepared to spend at least 2 to 4 hours each day to watching over the bird while it plays outside of its cage. Adequate exercise not only helps prevent weight gain, but also helps minimize boredom.

A strong play stand might develop become your bird's preferred hangout spot outside of the cage. It might need to be reminded a few times that this is where it should be, but birds are perceptive and rapidly catch on. It may take in the scenery and feel like a member of the family.

They thrive on being part of a flock (in this case, your family); it's a good idea to try to include your bird in as many family activities as possible.

  • Social and friendly

  • Intelligent and can speak up to 15 words

  • Can be loud, so not well-suited for apartments

  • Needs 2 to 4 hours of supervised, out-of-cage time

Where to Adopt or Buy a Harlequin Macaw

Prices for harlequin macaws range from $3,500 to $5,000, depending on the breeder's repute and if the bird has been hand-tamed. Since this bird has a lengthy lifespan, adoption organizations and rescues may advertise it on their websites. These birds could outlast their original owners, and some owners may have to relocate if they are no longer able to care for their macaw.

  • Free Flight
  • Adopt a Pet
  • Bird Breeders

Ask the breeder how long they have been breeding and dealing with macaws if you decide to pursue the breeder route to ensure that they are a respectable company. Look for the telltale indicators of a healthy bird while choosing your pet, such as bright eyes, tidy feathers, and full crops.

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