Macaws as Companion Parrots, What You Need to Know

macaw-scarletThere are 15 species of macaws and 3 species in genus Anodorhynchus (Hyacinth macaw). They all come from variety of habitats throughout large areas of the Amazon Basin, such as gallery forests and mangrove swamps.

You can see a wild macaw flying around anywhere from Central America to South America. Their lifespan can range from 35 years (mini macaws) up to 75 years with a large macaw.

Depending on the size of your macaw the cage requirements can range from 32” x 23” to 40” x 30” or even larger. They are very active so larger the cage the better. The extra-large cage will accommodate an unending supply of destructible toys macaws need.

Most all the macaws are brightly colored and have a slender long hooked beak with signature facial feathers and a long tail.

Family Rating: For the most part, macaws are very playful and affectionate. Some have the reputation of gentle giants others high strung and protective. The macaw’s larger size means a louder vocal volume, and its large beak can be intimidating, especially to someone who is not confident around larger birds.

Bluffing or trying to intimidate you is a game that most macaws will play so showing no fear and being the alpha is important to owning a macaw of any size. I would give certain macaws a high family rating depending on the type of macaw and the experience the family has.

Some macaws are not recommended for first time bird owners. A well-socialized macaw can be affectionate but also ready to rough house, fetch balls, and crawl in a blanket with you if in a playful mood.

Talkability/Noise Level: Yes macaws can talk, are they the best? Probably not. They are very clear when they speak and can mimic quite a bit of your household daily living sounds. If the macaw is insecure and cannot see his flock members he will echo or call out to them until someone responds. They just need to know you are ok. They will have a typical flock squawk in the morning and the evening but typically do not carry on screaming or squawking all day. Establishing independence and routine is healthy so they do not get bored and can self-entertain with their toys and jungle gym.

Cuddle Rating: Most macaws enjoy a good head massage and foot rub while lying on its back. Sounds like a bird who knows how to relax, well yes if she trusts the person giving out the rubs. I would give macaws a high cuddle rating if she is raised with lots of love and socialization.

Hypoallergenic: Macaws are from the rain forest and deep parts of the jungles of South America so they do well in humid climates and lots of bathing. They are a dander-free bird and are not likely to cause anyone with sinus complaints any problems at all.

Diet: Macaws are frugivores, granivores, and/or florivores. Free-ranging birds feed on seeds, fruit, figs, palm nuts, leaves, nectar, and/or flowers. That’s pretty easy to duplicate at your favorite bird store and local grocer.

They do require a higher protein diet so a formulated one with a mix of pellets, seeds, nuts, fruits and veggies are recommended. An all-seed diet is deficient in protein, vitamins, and minerals including calcium and vitamin A which will show in a macaw’s plumage and tail called edging.

Specifics on which macaw (mini or large) is right for you is dependent on several questions you could ask yourself:

  1. How much cage space do I have in my house?
  2. Is everyone in the house ok with the noise level?
  3. Is there anyone in my household going to be intimidated by the macaw?
  4. Who will inherit the bird?
  5. Am I more comfortable being dominant with a larger macaw vs a mini macaw?

Once you have all this figured out then we can help you get interacting with the right macaw for you and your family.

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