Macaw Parrot: A Profile of a Bird

Macaw (Ara araurana), close-up

The Psittacidae family of real parrots has 17 species that collectively make up the macaw genus. have huge beaks, vivid plumage, long tails, and pale or white face patches. They are stunning, exotic-looking birds. Although there are a few little species, the majority of these species are large, sociable, and quite loud. To live healthy, active lives, they need a lot of room. Pet macaws are frequently bequeathed in wills and estate plans because, although illness and inadequate diet can decrease their lives, these birds may outlast their owners.

Species Overview

Common Name: Macaw

Scientific Name: Psittacidae

Adult Size: The length of larger macaw species, with their long tails, can range from around 20 inches (military macaws) to 42 inches (hyacinth macaws); tiny macaws, at 10 to 20 inches, are more controllable.

Life Expectancy: 30 to 50 years; the larger the macaw, the longer the life expectancy.

Origin and History

Macaws are large, colorful South American parrots. Europeans learned about these "New World" parrots from Christopher Columbus' journey logs in the 15th century.

Hyacinth, red-fronted, and blue-throated macaws are the most endangered species, while Spix's macaw and glaucous macaw are two that are probably likely extinct. Their declining population is due to habitat degradation brought on by deforestation and unlawful capturing for the pet trade.


Click Play to Learn 7 Important Things About Owning a Macaw


Macaws have vivacious personalities that match their size, and they are fun and energetic birds. A well-cared-for macaw that receives the right nourishment, mental stimulation, enrichment, attention, and lots of space for exercise becomes a distinctive, long-living, loving, and devoted friend.

However, they may also be difficult pets because to their size and temperament. Macaws can develop aggressive, territorial, destructive, and troublesome behaviors if they are not handled often, have hormone imbalances, experience severe environmental changes, or lack cerebral stimulation.

It is essential to begin educating these smart birds at a young age. Early training should include hand-feeding, refraining from biting or nipping, keeping your voice down, and eventually teaching your bird to communicate or sing. As your relationship with your bird grows, you could even laugh together and engage in playful interactions.

Speech and Vocalizations

Macaws make a lot of noise. Some people may find their vocalizations to be too loud, and they have the ability to scream when they wish to. A macaw is not the best pet if you have noisy neighbors or if you have trouble with noise.

They can pick up words and mimic your voice, although their speech is not as clear as that of certain other kinds of pet birds. The blue-and-gold big macaw, however, is the best talking large macaw given constant training. The greatest talking small macaw is the Hahn's macaw.

Macaw Colors and Markings

There are many different varieties of macaw in the wild, but the ones that are kept as pets most frequently are the huge, eye-catching macaws. The most popular macaw species kept as pets are hyacinth, military, blue and gold, and scarlet macaws. Hahn's, Illiger's, and are a few of the less common species of little macaws.

Macaw plumage appears to contain every hue of the rainbow due to the wide range of color variances. There are other vibrant hybrids, like the rainbow macaw, sometimes referred to as the Catalina, in addition to the 17 species.

Macaws are dimorphic, meaning you cannot tell the sexes apart by looking at them. To figure this out, the bird needs genetic testing or a surgical sexing procedure.

Caring for a Macaw

Be prepared to spend a big amount of money because macaws require a substantial and sturdy cage. In a cage meant for Amazon parrots, little macaws may thrive (2 feet by 3 feet and 4 feet tall). A cage that is at least 3 feet by 4 feet by 5 feet tall is required for larger macaws. A stainless steel or wrought iron cage is a wise investment since it must be sturdy enough to withstand the macaws' powerful beaks. You must also provide your bird with a play stand, out-of-cage perch, or play gym.

Rotate among a variety of wooden toys or unprocessed, unadorned slabs of wood for the bird to chew on. Hanging toys and toys that can be climbed on are other terrific options, as are toys that can be disassembled to get a treat.

Provide sturdy toys to keep your macaw away from your wooden furniture and other tempting objects around the house because they may be filthy and destructive. You may also create your own macaw toys using safe, recyclable items like tissue boxes and phone books.

Common Health Problems

In general, macaws are robust, long-lived birds. Their biggest health problem is not physical, but rather emotional. Macaws are prone to boredom and loneliness since they are gregarious, intellectual animals. A macaw that is sad will harm itself by plucking its feathers. Get more than one macaw or spend a lot of time connecting with your pet are the two straightforward answers to this issue. In any case, your home life will be noisy and lively.

Macaws are also susceptible to certain avian diseases:

  • Proventricular dilatation disease: An incurable viral disease
  • Psittacine beak and feather disease: A contagious and fatal viral disease
  • Psittacosis (parrot fever): A disease caused by chlamydia bacteria that can be transmitted to humans
  • Beak malocclusion: A beak alignment disorder
  • Aspergillosis: A fungal infection

To ensure your pet's health, find a local avian vet where you can build an ongoing relationship. Your pet should visit the vet regularly to check for any signs of disease or depression.

Diet and Nutrition

Macaws consume a range of seeds, plants, fruits, and nuts in the wild. Your macaw's diet as a pet should mostly consist of prepared pelleted food, with a variety of fresh, nutritious and serving as supplements.

They should consume 50% pellets as their main food source. Nuts and seeds shouldn't make up more than 10% of their diet (as they are too high in fat). Fresh fruit and vegetables should make up the balance of the food.

The typical healthy macaw will eat between 10 and 15 percent of its body weight each day. The bigger scarlet macaw weighs roughly 2 pounds as a point of comparison. According to these ratios, the bird will consume between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of parrot mix and between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of fruits and vegetables each day. You can feed it twice a day: once when it wakes up in the morning and once before bed.

As long as it doesn't contain any chocolate, avocado, coffee, salt, or sugar, you can give your macaws a little bit of anything you are eating. As rewards, these birds typically enjoy oatmeal, applesauce, and cooked spaghetti.


For macaws to roam, expand their wings, and maintain good mental and physical health, they require far more space than a cage can offer. You should anticipate that your macaw will spend more time outdoors than inside of its cage unless you have a free-flight aviary as its confinement. Birds need at least two to four hours of attention from their owners or another bird in order to be content because they are flock species and are also highly loving.

  • Beautiful and intelligent

  • Can talk and mimic human sounds

  • Long-lived

  • Tendency for loud squawks and screams

  • Requires at 2 to 4 hours of daily exercise, mental stimulation

Where to Adopt or Buy a Macaw

Before you get a macaw, consider your space and time commitment. Frankly, if you don't have space for a large bird, don't get one.

Macaws are often available in pet stores, and older birds are usually available for adoption. You can also purchase a macaw from an avian breeder. Some online sources you can try include:

  • Beauty of Birds List of Breeders
  • Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary
  • Petfinder

Macaws range in price from $1,000 for smaller birds to $2,000 for bigger birds. Costs for hybrids might reach $5,000 or higher. Meet your prospective pet before you buy. The bird you select should have full plumage, sparkling eyes, and good health. Make sure you get along by spending some time together. Make a well-informed decision because a macaw may be a pet for life.

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