Macaws are the most colorful members of the bird family. They are appropriately called winged rainbows – possessing powerful large beaks and long tails. They are considered the largest birds among the Parrots in length and wingspan. The birds flaunt a unique blend of beauty, intelligence, curiosity, and other engaging traits that is almost legendary.
Large, dark (usually black) beaks and relatively hairless, light-colored, medial facial (facial patch) areas distinguish macaws. Sometimes the facial patch is smaller in some species and limited to a yellow patch around the eyes and a second patch near the base of the beak in the members of the Hyacinth Macaw. It has been documented that a Macaw’s facial feathers are unique as a human fingerprint. They are typically brightly colored and long tails.
Size: 20 – 42 inches
Life Expectancy: 30 – 80 years
Types of Macaws
The most popular types of Macaws are:
Greenwing Macaws, Scarlet Macaw, Spix’s Macaw, Hyacinth Macaw, Blue and Yellow Macaw, Red-Shouldered Macaw, Military Macaw, Blue-throated Macaw, Chestnut-Fronted Macaw, Red-Fronted Macaw, Blue-Headed Macaw.
Origin of the Macaw
With a natural habitat extending from Mexico to South America, the Macaw has one of the most extensive ranges of all parrots. In the United States, Macaws were kept by the Pueblo Indians since 1100 A.D. Their native homes are the rain forests of Central and South America.
Macaws are playful and active and have an exuberant personality to go along with their size. This makes them a very challenging pet. They are also very affectionate, and in turn, require a good deal of time and attention from their owners to be happy. A wide variety of wooden toys or plain untreated chunks of wood to chew on should be provided. Toys meant to be taken apart to get at a treat are also a good choice, as are hanging toys and toys to climb on as long as they are safe.
They tend to be loud: in the wild, their voices need to carry over long distances. This makes macaws very demanding birds keep as household pets. Additional complications arise from the intelligence levels of macaws, and their negative responses to stimuli people may use on domestic pets, such as punishment.
Macaw As A Pet
Close bonding with the owner can only be possible if the Macaw pet is provided with proper training, diet, and required freedom from their cage. Macaws need lots of attention from their owners. Though not too much of a talkative nature, Macaws can be awfully loud.
They are monogamous and mate for life. In captivity, unmated macaws will bond primarily with one person – their keeper, and can often be quite affectionate and cuddly. Pet macaws thrive on frequent interaction and attention from their owners, and a lack of this can lead to their mental and physical suffering.
Macaws need a large, strong cage so be prepared to make a significant investment. The cage shape is also very important for the bird. Square or rectangular cages are more appropriate for parrots. Before buying the cage, do a thorough checking of the security mechanism. A simple latch is no challenge for a Macaw. The cage must be strong enough to withstand their significant beak strength of Macaws. A stainless steel cage is a good investment.
A minimum of 24″ W x 24″ H x 18″ D for smaller Macaws
A minimum of 5 ft W x 6 ft H x 3� ft D for larger Macaws
Bar spacing: Not more than 4″ apart
Structural wire at least 3 mm thick
Ideal Diet For Your Macaw
Macaws are no fussy eaters. A Macaw should be provided with proper diet to keep it happy and content. Wild Macaws feed on palm fruits. Whereas a pet Macaw’s regular diet includes nuts, fruits, small-sized pastas, cooked chicken or turkey, and other bits and pieces of foods.
Since commercial food does not meet your bird’s nutritional needs, a Macaw strives best on grains, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, and meats.
Many even prefer boiled vegetables to fresh ones.
Give plenty of freshwater to your Macaw for a happy and healthy bird.
Beware that a Macaw can become bored with a formulated diet that can trigger off negative behavior.
Make a combination of small parrot mix and supplement with your bird’s regular meals.
Vitamin supplements can be added to their drinking water or sprinkled on their food.
Make sure you never feed your bird avocado, cabbage, parsley and iceberg lettuce.
Remember, your pet’s diet will improve its health and will keep it content.