Looking for a good pet? If you are thinking of a bird, perhaps you should consider taking a macaw, one of the most loved and appreciated by bird lovers.

Types of Macaws

What’s a macaw?

The macaw is a genus of parrot family bird, being this variant of American origin, especially in the jungles of Mexico and northeastern Argentina.

Within the order of Psittaciformes, it is the largest species, as it can measure up to 90 centimeters, although the normal size is about 75 centimeters. It can weigh up to 1.5 kilograms.

natural macaws

They are climbing birds that like to do acrobatics, so they tend to move around in the space they have in their cage or in their house. They are not as good imitators as the common parrot, but they can be taught to repeat the human voice.

Its plumage is very colorful and bright, and it fits perfectly with the rainforests of Central and South America, especially the green color, one of the most characteristic. Its beak is large and robust, being able to easily break the shells of nuts and dried fruit. Unlike other animals, the macaw has a bone in its tongue, which is dry and scaly, making it a very good tool for striking.

What does the character of macaws usually look like?

Compared to other variants of parrots, the macaw is a docile animal with a very strong gregarious instinct. If they are accustomed to living with humans from an early age, it is not very difficult to bond with them. They do not like to be alone in the cage, although they are not very good at sharing a cage with smaller birds either.

It is very active and quite noisy, which likes to play a lot, as well as being a very demanding pet when it comes to receiving love. When it comes to training them, it is not usually complicated, as they are animals that can quickly get attached to humans and do not dislike learning some tricks.

flying exotic bird

It should be noted that depending on the type of macaw this may have one character or another… For example, the blue and yellow macaws have a friendly character and are quite affectionate and playful compared to the green-winged macaws, which are very friendly but of a much calmer character.

How long can a macaw live?

Making the decision to host a macaw at home is to opt for an animal with a fairly long life. The average life expectancy of macaws can be as high as 80 years, with some even reaching 100 years.

macaw blue and yellow

Although they may live a long time, this does not mean that they should not be cared for or watched, as some macaws do not reach 20 years of age due to human carelessness or because they escape and become unaccustomed to wildlife. Having this animal has the same obligations as a dog or a cat.

Can you tell the female from the male?

In fact, most macaws are monomorphic, meaning that both sexes have the same outward appearance. They have very slight differences that only the most experienced are able to distinguish between a male and a female.

an others macaws birds

What if you want to breed this species? In this case, you should go to a specialist for a chromosomal or DNA analysis to be sure of who is the male and who is the female in your flock at home.

How hard is it to get into a relationship with a macaw?

Although they are very friendly and affectionate animals, this does not mean that as soon as they arrive home they will become friends with their owner. Like the relationship with all animals, you have to work on the confidence of the animal.

two blue and yellow macaws

First of all, it has to be a young pup or a young one, as it is more difficult to gain their trust in adult animals, especially if they have lived in the wild all their lives. Animals should not be burdened or forced into a relationship unless they want to.

So, what is to be done? First of all, don’t let your presence disturb it, so the cage must be located in a place where the whole family can live daily, so that the animal gets used to the presence. He may protest at first, but he’ll gradually calm down. You can get a little closer to the cage to start getting in touch, but if it starts to get upset, it’s best to stay away until it’s quiet. This will set the distance limit you will need to start with.

Slowly, every day, go closer to the cage, until you finally let yourself be near it. Then it’s time to start “buying” her some trinkets, such as millet on the vine, also known as panizo, or other food she likes very much. He may refuse, so you’ll have to leave him alone with the trinkets in his cage. Repeat the process every day until she finally wants to eat it when you give it to her. Little by little, he’s going to get close enough to take it.

Did you make it? Because if so, it’s time to reach in and try to feed him by the hand. Again, the process has to be slow and calm, so that it doesn’t get overwhelmed. You probably won’t get it the first time, so you’ll have to repeat it every day until you finally want to.

Take him out of his cage

It is recommended that the macaw should not be allowed to leave the cage until contact has been made with it. Surely, once he’s eaten from your hand, it wouldn’t be surprising if he liked to sit on your arm.

birds with waterfall

But when you take him out of the cage, you should know that he may not listen to you. You will explore everything around you to get to know your surroundings and get used to them. You have to leave him to his own devices to investigate the whole stay and then he’ll get tired and want to go back to his cage. If he doesn’t want to go back to his cage, don’t pick him up or grab him. Approach him with a trinket to put it on his arm, then give it to him and put it back in the cage.

Buying a cage, what does it have to be like?

To get an idea of how big a macaw’s cage must be, it has to be twice the size of its wings, from one to the other, spread out. It should not be round, as this causes a number of disturbances in birds, even if they look very pretty in shops.

The door of the cage should be wide enough to allow the macaw to be easily removed from the cage or to put its arm in if you want it to sit on your arm. The bars should be vertical with a short distance between each bar, so that the macaw cannot get its head between the bars and thus drown.

Feeders are best made of stainless steel, so that they do not spoil easily. It’s better if they are located on the outside, because if they are on the inside, when they are very young they could escape through the door of the trough or the watering trough.

They are very clean animals, so you will have to remove the faeces often. So the tray should be easy to remove from the bottom of the floor grid. It’s also a good idea to use stainless steel or a material that won’t break easily when you’re cleaning it.

macaw bird in a pet

Once the ideal cage has been found, it is time to decide what should be inside the cage. First of all, the hangers, on which they will be perched most of the time. It is recommended that these are tree branch because they can be sanded on the nails and do not damage the legs, as is the case with plastic ones. Of course you also need some toys, such as earrings, ladders or rubber toys, which will help you exercise.

However, under no circumstances should you buy her a mirror or always have the same toys in the cage. You can take advantage of the cage cleaning time to put in some new toys to give you a new way to exercise.

Such a big cage, where do you put it?

In front of a parakeet’s cage, a macaw’s cage is larger, but this does not mean that it does not need to be located in a suitable place.

For example, it should be located in the room where the house is most alive, such as the living room, which helps the animal not feel alone all day and also helps to keep it under control. There should be no draughts in the place where it is placed, so avoid that it is too close to windows, and at least two sides of the cage are glued to the wall, so that you know which side we will approach it.

two bidrs in love

The cage should be neither too low nor too high. The best thing is that it is at the level of the owner’s eyes, because if it is very low they feel intimidated, while if it is very high, they feel too powerful and it is impossible to establish a relationship with them.

Near the TV? They don’t have as many problems as other animals if the cage is placed facing a TV, as it helps them learn words, but they can’t see it directly, because the flashes on the screen can make them blind or cause epileptic seizures.

The cage is dirty, how do you clean it?

Yes, macaws are quite clean animals and at least a couple of times a month they like to have their owners shine their cages on them. But how do you clean a macaw’s cage?

First of all, let our bird out. If she is not yet used to moving around the room or being in contact with us, she should be moved to another cage, joining the doors together to pass by on her own or to tempt you with some trinkets. If he’s used to getting out of the cage, just let him fly around the house or do whatever he wants while you clean it.

exotics birds

The best way to clean the cage is to use bleach diluted in water, applied with a kitchen towel to prevent lint from remaining on the rack. Afterwards, all the corners of the cage should be disinfected and cleaned with a brush. After about 15 minutes, rinse with plenty of water until the lye has been removed and dry with kitchen blotter.

It is possible that during the cleaning process the bird may escape from the cage and want to be wandering around the house. Remember, don’t yell at them or force them back into their cages. Try to tempt him with trinkets and close the door so he can’t go to another room. When he’s hungry, he’ll go back to his cage.

Raise him out of the cage, is that recommended?

There are many owners who consider it a cruelty to have the macaw locked in a cage and since they are little they have been camping around the house. But is this really good for the macaw?

Well, macaws are very intelligent animals and unlike parakeets, they are not very used to flying around the house. All they really need is a place to lay down on when they sleep, like a hanger, where you can put newspaper on the floor to let their feces fall out.

There is nothing wrong with raising it this way, but you have to think that in this case you must always be careful that all the windows are closed so that it doesn’t fly away. It’s also easier to establish a relationship with him, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work to make friends.

What can you feed a macaw?

Some species of birds can be said to eat everything and although it is best to feed them, there are other types of food that can be given to them to get a complete diet and that is very beneficial to their body.

Let’s start with what are known as dry foods. This should be 10% of your body weight per day, which should be a small assortment mixed from a high-energy feed, from macaw-specific seeds to a little nuts such as cashews, walnuts or hazelnuts and some germinated legumes.

macaw eating

In addition, they should also eat what is known as wet food, which should be 10 – 12% of the weight of the macaw, such as a fruit salad. When it is given, it must be composed of 5 different ingredients that have a high calorie content, such as banana, grape or coconut. You can also give them some vegetables such as lettuce, chard or spinach, as long as they are well chopped.

Can they be given any other foods? Yes, even if they are not part of your diet, you can occasionally give them a little bread, rice or pasta, even a little boiled egg. But you don’t have to get used to it, so it has to become a kind of prize or reward once a week.

I want my macaw to learn to say words, how do I do it?

Did you find it easy getting the macaw to bond with you? Because if so, you should know that getting him to talk is going to be a lot harder. Some macaws learn words on their own by hearing them for a long time in the environment in which their cage is located, but it takes a long time for them to be learned by their owner.

two exotics red birds

First of all, set a practice schedule, which should never exceed 15 minutes, because the macaw will get bored of hearing you repeat the same word. The sessions should be solo, between the owner and the macaw, with any electronic devices that may disturb the training being switched off.

The bird must be a young specimen, from 4 months onwards it starts to imitate sounds. But you have to keep in mind that there are specimens that learn before others. Some never get to say a word.

The words you are trying to teach should be simple and repeated several times during the 15 minutes of the session. It won’t come out in the first or second week, but you may be able to pronounce it in less than a week. If that’s the case, give him a candy bar. If someone else says it again, but not the third one, or she’ll get used to you having to give her something to eat every time she says that word.

It is an exercise of constant effort with which we must not give up. At first, you can teach him words like “Hello” or to learn to say the name of his landlord or someone in the house when he sees him. If the animal shows great potential for making sounds, then it can be taught to order food, such as “I want apple”.

In case you can’t devote the 15 minutes to your parrot, there are other tricks to teach it to talk. The most typical was to use a cassette tape to teach him how to say a word (which lasts 15 minutes of the session), but nowadays mobile or computer recordings are used.

I think he’s sick, what can it be?

Although macaws are a bird that can live as long as a human being, they are not exempt from being sick. A good owner knows that his parrot is sick because of his state of mind, since it is if he is very lively and one day he is off it is because he is not feeling very well, or if he is suddenly very nervous when he has always been calm, it is because something is upsetting him a lot, like the parasites.

exotic macaw

So what kinds of diseases can macaws have?

  • Pacheco’s disease: A highly infectious and deadly disease for this type of bird. It is caused by a spread of Herpesvirus and affects birds of the parrot family. Once infected, the parrot may have no symptoms, but the animal dies within days of contracting the disease that damages its organs. If an animal with this infection is detected, it should be separated from the rest.
  • Salmonellosis: Diarrhea, weight loss, arthritis… is usually a disease that is transmitted by direct contact between two specimens or by their feces. It can be cured by using antibiotics mixed with water and cleaning the cage well.
  • PBFD: It is known as beak and feather disease, a viral disease that affects all parrots in the family. It is a virus that attacks the growth cells of feathers, beak and claws, causing them to malform. The bird stops eating and may suffer from diarrhoea.
  • Papillomatosis: A viral infection caused by the growth of papillomas in the macaw’s digestive tract. The animal will pant if it is in the mouth, but if it is in the cloaca, then its dispositions will contain blood and have an abnormal odor. The animal may also have gas.
  • Smallpox: Although not as serious as the above, it can also be deadly, as it is transmitted through blood-sucking bugs that attach themselves to the bird and begin to attack it. It can be transmitted from one bird to another. Those who are affected are drooping, have fever, pustules on their legs and commissures on their beaks and eyelids.
  • Psittacosis: Although it is a disease that animals suffer from, it is contagious to humans, which is transmitted by the inhalation of dust from bird faecal material or by handling birds in slaughterhouses. The affected bird may lose its appetite, have a shaggy appearance, eye discharge and diarrhea. To cure the bird, you have to give it antibiotics or it could die.
  • Malnutrition: Poor nutrition of the macaw does not only have to lead to obesity. It can also have bad plumage, suffer respiratory problems, be very thin, eat enough nutrients or be of poor quality.
  • Feather Pulling: You may suddenly notice that your macaw is pulling out its feathers or there is some part of your body that lacks feathers. The reasons may be external parasites, skin disorders, sexual frustration, or mating or skin irritation from environmental factors such as mood. You may also have them pulled out if you feel bored or jealous. To solve this problem, you can be given tranquilizers, a spray that gives a bad taste to your feathers or a collar.
  • Fracture: The parrot can hurt itself and break a wing or leg. In these cases it is best to go to the veterinarian to take care of it. This is normal for birds that go out to explore the room for the first time, so you need to keep an eye on it.
  • Bleeding: If you have started to pull out feathers, it would not be unusual for you to have a cut that would result in bleeding. In these cases, press the wound with your fingers to plug it with gauze and disinfect it when you have stopped bleeding with chlorhexidine or iodine.
  • Burns: It is not normal for a macaw to burn, but if it is very close to the sun or walks in the kitchen it could not be strange either. In these cases, wash the affected area with cold water and then use some ointment.
  • Humor inhalation: It is important that the macaw is away from all sources of smoke, and this also means being away from tobacco smoke. If you are going to smoke, do so far away from the room where the bird is located.
  • Heat stroke: If the bird’s cage is located in a place where it is very hot, it will not be unusual for it to begin to breathe with difficulty and have its wings separated from its body in the summer. In these cases, the macaw should be washed in cold water to cool it down.
  • Egg retention: It’s a strange thing to happen, but it’s possible. This is especially true of adult females or those that have not been fed properly. In this case, a little heat should be applied to the sewer, using for example steam, or a little oil to facilitate the exit.

I want my macaws to breed, what do I need to know?

Is it difficult to get macaws to reproduce? The truth is that they don’t, and they can be left to their own devices and may have offspring on their own. But if you want to intervene a little in the process of nature, the first thing to know is that macaws cannot breed until they have reached sexual maturity, which is not until they are four years old.

First of all, a good couple has been formed. If two young macaws have grown up together, don’t worry, as they are animals that soon make contact with each other. The nest can be purchased or left to them with materials left in the cage.

macaws in love

Once they have mated, it is normal for the brood to have two eggs, although on special occasions they have three eggs. Incubation will last about 30 days. At first the young are blind, so they will depend entirely on the mother until they are 2 – 3 months old, when they leave the nest with their plumage. Then they will be with the parents for another six months, until they learn to fend for themselves and can be placed in a different cage.

Macaws are not adults until they are 7 years old and when they form a bond with their mate, it is for life, so it is quite difficult to get a macaw to mate with another female that is not the first one it has chosen as such. Is it impossible? No, but being an animal that is so close to its partner, it is no wonder that it goes into depression if it dies and wants to be alone in its cage.

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