|Macaws come from Mexico and throughout South
America. These large and beautiful birds are the birds that come
to most everyone's mind when the word parrot is mentioned. These
birds are most often seen in bird shows.
There are 17 macaw species and two general sizes of macaws.
Ten are considered to be the large macaws while the other seven
are the mini or dwarf macaws. Most macaws in the wild are
endangered due to the destruction of the rainforest and capture
for the pet trade. The Spix's macaw is already extinct in the
wild. There is only a small population in conservation programs.
Macaws are social birds and need plenty of interaction. They
can be very loud. A macaw can scream at over 105 dB. They also
need plenty of wood they could chew. They could be very
destructive if not given toys they could destroy.
Macaws are highly intelligent. Some may talk, others may
Being rainforest birds, macaws love to bathe. Make sure that
you let them do so because it will keep their feathers looking
Macaws should never be allowed on your shoulder.
Macaws are not sexually dimorphic.
Macaws can live 30+ years. For some of the larger macaws
80-100 isn't unheard of.
||Lear's Macaws are also endangered. There are
less than 100 birds left in the wild today. It wasn't
until 1978 that they were recognized as a separate
species. At one time they were thought to be a different
color mutation of the Hyacinth. They should not be kept
as pets but instead they should be put into a
conservation breeding program.
|Hyacinth macaws are the largest of all the
macaws, breathtakingly blue and with an impressive
looking beak. But for all their size, they are very
gentle. In fact they are called "the gentle giants" of
the macaw world. They are very slow to wean, with the
longest weaning period of all Psittacines. Some
hyacinths appear small. This can be due to weaning too
soon, causing them to be underfed and to appear stunted.
They are not as noisy overall as other macaws, but they
can be much louder. These birds are highly endangered
and should be put into a breeding program. They need a
higher fat diet than other macaws. In the wild they
mainly eat two different types of palm nuts. There are
less than 3000 left in the wild today. They have a
specialized diet which consists of only 2 different
types of palm nuts. Their beaks are the strongest on all
parrots, exerting over 1500 pounds of pressure per
square inch. The nuts that they eat needs at least 1400
p.s.i. to open. Their tongues are two toned, black with
a yellow stripe down it. In younger birds this stripe
may be white. At over 40 inches in length they weigh
1200-1600 grams. It could take 5 years for them to reach
their full length.
Spix's Macaws are now extinct in the wild. There are
only around 60 known birds left in breeding programs and private
collections around the world today. Even in 1819 they were
considered to be rare. They are 22 inches in length and weigh
around 450 grams. Because of conservation groups such as Loro
Parque, World Parrot Trust and Macaw Landing Foundation our
children's children may one day see these birds in the wild
flying free once again.
|Blue and gold macaws are the most popular. These are
the clowns of the macaw world. They are very outgoing,
intelligent, playful, and wonderful companions. However, they
are most likely to test their owners and their boundaries. They
are most often seen in bird shows due to their intelligence,
their trainability and their outgoing antics. If acquired as
handfed babies and handled by all members of the family, along
with properly established rules, they are most likely to remain
gentle to everyone. They love to play and are a high energy
bird. They can be very loud. Their devotion is one of their
outstanding traits. Sadly many are now gone from certain areas.
In the 1960's they disappeared from parts of SE Brazil and in
the 1980's they disappeared from areas in Trinidad. Thousands
were exported yearly. From 1982-1984 over 18,000 were exported
from Bolivia alone. Today they are almost gone from French
Guiana and Surinam. They are probably the most popular and well
known of the macaws. They are around 32-35 inches in length and
they weigh around 900-1200 grams. Talking ability will vary
||Blue-throated Macaws or Caninde Macaws are also
endangered in the wild. There are less than 200 of them left. Up
until the 1970's they were thought to be a subspecies of the
blue and gold, or maybe even an immature version of them. They
are around 24-29 inches in length and weigh around 600-850
grams. They are similar in personality to the blue and
|Scarlet macaws are bright colorful birds who also have
a reputation of being nippy. However, this nippiness can be due
to the fact that they are weaned way too early and are not
properly socialized. They need guidelines and boundaries set
early. If handfed longer, properly socialized, and rules
established early, they can be loving and gentle, and remain so
for the rest of their lives. They are extremely sensitive to any
bad treatment and have long memories. Highly intelligent, they
need to be kept busy with toys that will challenge their
intellect. Toys that can be taken apart, or puzzle type of toys
are best. They also have a reputation for being stubborn and
strong-willed, so they are not meant for the novice or timid
individual. They are very strong fliers and can fly around 35
miles per hour. They usually do not tolerate young children
well. They are not as good of a family pet as the blue and gold
or the greenwing. They are around 33-35 inches in length and
weigh around 900-1100 grams.
||Green-winged macaws are the second largest of the
macaws. (There is a subspecies that is as large or larger than
the hyacinth macaw.) Because of their size, they need lots of
room to play. They have the reputation for being the gentlest
and most easy-going of all the macaws. This is true if they
receive the proper nurturing, with guidelines and boundaries
clearly established. They tend to develop slowly, remaining
babies much longer than other macaws, but once they mature watch
out! In the wild when this happens they tend to rule. In
captivity, they will remain loving companions. Extremely
intelligent they are also very inquisitive, and are prone to
mischief. Sensitive macaws that love affection and attention,
they have one of the longest attention spans of all the
Psittacines. They love to entertain and they love to play. Slow
to wean, they should continue to be offered food even after it
appears that they are weaning. They are considered to be the
most intelligent of the macaws. They are around 34-39 inches in
length and weigh around 1200-1600 grams.
|Buffon's Macaws are also highly endangered. There are
only around 300 left in Columbia, Costa Rica and Panama. They
are often mistaken for the Military. However they are bigger and
heavier than the Militaries and also they are a lighter shade of
green. Even their tail feathers are longer. Buffon's also have a
black pupil that is surrounded by a wide grayish ring, followed
by a very thin black line and a yellow band around that. They
have a reputation of being nippy, but if raised properly they
make wonderful pets. They have a fair talking ability. They are
around 30-34 inches in length and weigh around 1200-1500 grams.
||Military macaws are docile by nature. They have
received a reputation for being nippy and aggressive. But
properly socialized, they can make wonderful pets. Owners with
such socialized militaries claim that they are the best of all
macaws. They can be good talkers with outstanding personalities.
They are not as colorful as other macaws, and so are often
overlooked. Like the green-winged macaws, they are extremely
intelligent. The military is the smallest of the large macaws.
They have a fair talking ability. Though they are not endangered
in the wild, because they are so often confused with the
Buffon's they are also protected. They are around 24-27 inches
|Red-fronted macaw are endangered in the wild. In 1993
there were less than 2,000 in the wild and these numbers have
decreased since then. Besides the destruction of their habitat
and capture for the pet trade they are now being shot by local
farmers because they eat the crops. You need to be aware that
they sometimes like to sleep on their backs. They are very
outgoing and friendly with mischievous personalities. They are
around 21-22 inches in length and weight around 450-650 grams.
They are they fastest flying of the macaws and can fly at over
40 mph. They are such strong flyers that they could even fly
directly into a sandstorm. They are very empathic and seem to
sense your moods. They love an active household and one that has
more than one bird.
||Severe macaws are highly intelligent, playful, and
probably the most sensitive of the mini-macaws. They are
extremely quick learners. If everyone in the family works with
them consistently, they can form bonds with all members of the
family. They love to wrestle with their owners, sometimes giving
painful but playful nips. This behavior is not meant to be
aggressive, but rather it is in play. They can be noisy. They
also can learn to talk, but are not famous for this trait.
Though they are small, they have huge personalities. They are
very affectionate and form strong bonds with their owners. They
are around 18-19 inches in length and weigh around 300-450
|Yellow-collared macaws are little birds with a big
bird personality. They are sweet, outgoing, lovable, and
playful. Though they are independent enough to play on their
own, they prefer the social interaction with their owners. Some
will even roll over on their backs to play and cuddle. Sometimes
loud and noisy, their talking ability is limited. Up until the
early 70's they were rare in aviculture. Today they are becoming
more popular and are readily available. They can be aggressive
toward other birds so either separate them or carefully
||Blue-headed Macaw or Coulon's Macaw are extremely rare
in the wild. There are only around 100-200 birds left. They were
unknown in aviculture until around 1995. Only 16 birds were
exported by Peru between 1983 and 1999. They need to be put in a
conservation breeding program because of their rarity.
|Illiger's macaws are sweet, outgoing, and playful,
especially if properly socialized. They can be noisy. They can
learn to talk, but are rather limited in this ability. While
most macaws have a smooth even flight, Illiger's tend to be more
like a daredevil pilot. They will drop like a stone and in the
space of a breath they will change directions, even close to the
ground. They are very sweet, outgoing and playful. They also
tend to be sensitive. Their talking ability is limited. They are
around 17 inches in length and weigh around 250-350 grams.
Red-bellied Macaw can sometimes be on the
nervous side. They also sometimes tend to be obese. Though they
are capable of talking, they usually do not develop large
vocabularies. They have a very long breeding season, one of the
longest of the New World birds. They are around 18 inches in
length and weigh around 280-350 grams.
|Noble macaws are full of energy and can develop a real
attitude. Like the conures, this little guy can be quite noisy.
However, they can be very cuddly and lovable. Though not famous
for its talking ability, they do talk clearly.
Hahn's macaws are similar to the noble macaws in both
attitude and in personality. Some owners claim however that the
Hahn's have a gentler nature and a more easy-going temperament.
The Hahn's is the smallest of the mini macaws. They are around
12-14 inches in length and weigh around 120-160 grams.
MORE ON MACAWS
Macaws are not the bird for the amateur! They require a lot
of attention and room, and someone who knows how to handle a
bird. The large macaws beaks are extremely powerful. They can
exert a pressure of 350+ lbs. per square inch, which can snap a
finger clean off. Their voices are so loud that they can be
heard over a mile away. They require a knowledgeable trainer who
will work with them daily and consistently.
Handfed babies are a handful, especially at feeding time. It
is not unusual for them to come charging with beak open and jump
towards the feeding syringe and start pumping away with a force
that makes you feel that your arm will be dislocated. When done
with one full syringe they can't wait for you to fill it up
again. They attach their beaks to your wrist or other body parts
and start pumping.
They are very destructive, needing to chew constantly. If
given enough branches and toys they might leave walls,
furniture, or whatever they can get their beaks on, alone.
Their diet consists of nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and
healthy table food, including chicken and meat. Macaws also need
a higher fat diet. Hyacinth macaws need a special diet
consisting mainly of nuts.
They are prone to macaw wasting disease, chlamydiosis,
behavioral problems, screaming, feather cysts, feather plucking,
oral and cloacal papillomatosis, pancreatitis, and dietary
problems. They can live for a very long time and it is not
unheard of to find a macaw that is close to 100 years old.
Popular species of macaws are the blue and gold, scarlet,
military, the underrated green-winged, and the very rare
hyacinth. The popular mini or dwarf macaws are the noble,
Hahn's, severe, Illiger's, and the yellow- collared.
Macaws will continue to grow until they are around 18 months
old. Baby macaws have dark eyes. Their eyes lighten up as they
age. However Buffon's and the hyacinth are the exception--their
eyes remain dark when they age.
Interesting facts: 1) Macaws can blush. The white
patches on their faces can turn bright red when exposed to
sunlight or when they get excited. This is especially true with
the military macaws who have photosensitive white facial
patches. 2) Greenwing macaws are considered to be the most
intelligent of the macaws. 3) While not know for their talking
ability, some macaws have developed very large vocabularies. 4)
The Pueblo Indians kept Scarlet macaws as pets as long ago as
1100 A.D. 5) Certain macaws will blush when they get excited.
The white cheek patch will turn red. 6) A macaws tongue is dry
and slightly scaly and has a bone inside it.