Illiger's Macaw: Detailed Information, History, and Care

Illiger Macaws

The Illiger's macaw is a beautiful, energetic, and fascinating bird that is easy to teach as a companion. It's also known as the blue-winged macaw, and it's a little parrot that takes a lot of care. It wants to be a member of the family because it is a very sociable bird. Because they believe they won't be able to handle a larger bird, most individuals opt for a small macaw. Looks, on the other hand, can be misleading. An Illiger's macaw may appear little, yet it has the same behavior as the larger birds.

Species Overview

Common Names: Illiger's macaw, Illiger's miniature macaw, blue-winged macaw

Scientific Name: Primolius maracana

Adult Size: 15 to 17 inches

Life Expectancy: About 60 years

Origin and History

The Illiger's macaw's range spans central and southern South America, including the woods and woodlands of central and eastern Brazil, northern Argentina, and the majority of Paraguay. Palm palms are a haven for birds. They feed from the tree, which also provides lots of cover from predators and bad weather. Wild Illigers live in couples or small flocks since they are social creatures. They get along well with other parrot species, such as macaws and conures.

The bird got its name from German zoologist Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger, who first described the birds to the scientific community.

Unfortunately, because to habitat degradation, Illiger numbers in the wild are vulnerable and designated endangered. Birds are considered pests by many farmers. Grains and farmer's crops have replaced their natural food sources, which are rapidly dwindling.

Hunting and trapping have harmed their numbers even further. Baby macaws destined for the pet trade are frequently kidnapped from their nests. Before reaching a new home, many of these kidnapped juvenile parrots die or get agitated. They frequently receive insufficient care and attention. The importation of endangered or threatened wild-caught birds is prohibited in the United States. Illiger's macaws are among them.


Illiger's macaws are amiable, energetic birds who like interacting with humans. These clever birds will form close bonds with their owners if they are handfed as newborns and nurtured in caring, attentive households. The bond between the bird and its owner might be so deep that the bird would imitate its owner's feelings. The bird will frequently imitate its owner's mood, whether sad or pleased. If you keep a calm demeanor as an owner, your empathetic bird will often mirror your calm demeanor.

These birds demand a great deal of cerebral stimulation and like staying occupied. In a house, they like to be a part of the activity and may frequently stroll about seeking for something that piques their attention or perch on your shoulder to observe what you're doing. Their inquisitive nature and quick wit also aid them in responding swiftly to beneficial teaching methods.

While Illiger's macaws aren't known to be particularly loud, they are still macaws, and they do have some vocalizations.

Speech and Vocalizations

The cry of an Illiger is commonly compared to that of a crow, and they will greet you as well as make attention-getting cries when they want to play. The loudness has been deemed excessive by several owners. They are moderate talkers, and some can pick up a few new words. They have a clownish demeanor and frequently surprise their owners with amusing reactions.

Illiger's Macaw Colors and Markings

Illiger's macaws have a brilliant red blaze on their foreheads and are largely green. The neck and top of the head feathers are a lovely iridescent blue. On their lower back, belly, and tail feathers, they have brownish-red spots with bright blue edges. Under their wings, you'll see a yellow to olive green hue while they're flying.

This species has orange eyes framed by the classic bare macaw facial patches. Their black beaks are large for their size, and they have flesh-colored feet and legs.

Illiger's macaws are considered monomorphic birds, meaning males and females look alike. Young macaws will not have the vivid colorings of adults, but in time, this will develop.

Caring for the Illiger's Macaw

If you're thinking of getting an Illiger's macaw, make sure you have plenty of time to devote to it. It will grow bored, furious, and destructive if it feels neglected. A unhappy or neglected macaw is unpleasant to be around, and owners will quickly discover that these birds can and do bear grudges if mistreated. Illiger's macaws have a strong chewing ability. An enraged macaw can wreak havoc on costly trim, doors, and windowsills. Provide lots of for Illiger's macaws to keep them engaged and active.

Consider adopting two birds if feasible. They can keep each other occupied and entertained, which is beneficial to the birds' health. In a captive setting, Illiger's flourish. They fare well in aviaries with other species as well, so a second Illiger's isn't strictly essential.

It will go through a nippy phase during its development. To get over this period as fast as possible, proper training with positive reinforcement is essential. You can ignore the nips, withdraw your hands, and divert the bird's attention away from you. Alternatively, if a bird bites, put it back in its cage or on its play stand to educate it that nipping is not rewarded with time with you.

These birds, too, must be able to fly. They are gracefully moving acrobats in the air. Consider purchasing the you can afford—one that is of good quality, will last the bird a lifetime, and is spacious enough to allow some flying.

Consider the expensive expense of ownership before purchasing an Illiger's macaw. The costs of veterinarian care, high-quality diet, toys, and cages can mount up. If you can't give your bird the finest of everything right now, hold off until you can.

Consider spending some time with one of the birds you're contemplating for your house. They have a tendency to be irrational. Before you take the bird home, try to figure out if it has any behavioral concerns.

Common Health Problems

Illiger's can live around 50-60 years. Illiger's are susceptible to the same diseases as other macaws. These illnesses include:

  • Proventricular dilatation disease (nervous system disorder)
  • Psittacine beak and feather disease (a deadly viral infection)
  • Psittacosis (a bacterial disease)
  • Beak malocclusion (beak misalignment)
  • Aspergillosis (a fungal infection)

Diet and Nutrition

To fulfill their high-energy demands, Illiger's macaws in the wild eat a diet that is heavier in fat than other macaw species. Their preferred meals originate from various sections of the palm tree, and their large beaks are capable of cracking open even the hardest palm nuts. Green vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, and a wide range of fruits are also consumed.

Feed your Illigers a diversified diet of high-quality seed and pellet mix, as well as fresh bird-safe fruits and vegetables, on a regular basis. When feeding time is done, remove any fresh meals you've placed in your Amazon's cage. You may anticipate the bird to consume roughly 10% of its body weight every day.

With the same foods every day, Illiger's may develop bored. They have a tendency to be finicky eaters at times. Avocado, chocolate, and coffee are toxic parrot meals to avoid.


The Illiger's macaw is a fast-moving bird in the wild. Exercise is something that owners should pay special attention to. Illiger's macaws should be given lots of opportunities to outside of their cage on a daily basis. Training will be aided with a play stand studded with toys. Toys should be engaging, diverse, and rotated on a regular basis. For its huge beak, wood makes a good toy and provides an appropriate outlet for its gnawing drive. Leather, beads, and ropes will also be appreciated by this amusing macaw.

  • Social and friendly

  • Compassionate, can read your emotions

  • Smaller-sized bird

  • May not be as noisy, but can still get loud and may not be well-suited for apartments

  • Requires plenty of daily exercise, socialization

Where to Adopt or Buy an Illiger's Macaw

Since the Wild Bird Protection Act of 1992 outlawed the import of all Illiger's macaws to the United States, it may be difficult to tell if an imported Illiger's macaw is wild-caught or captive-bred. Despite their rarity, several breeding operations in the United States have managed to spread the species from birds that were already in the country prior to the import restriction.

You may find Illiger's macaws online at a premium price. Check breeders, rescues, and adoption services online:

  • Bird Breeders
  • Petfinder
  • Adopt a Pet

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

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