Macaws are like adorable feathered 3 year-old children.
Learn more about the macaws and their instinctive behavior and what they need to avoid behavior problems.
Healthy macaws have a slender body, long wings, pointed tail and a bare facial patch around their eyes.
These companion parrots are playful, smart and inquisitive. You must provide lots of toys to chew and play with when you aren’t able to play with them. If they are to be a companion parrot, then you need to set aside quality time to spend with them.
They are not known for being great talkers, but they make up for it in cuddling and being so easily trained. Of course, this is only true of a parrot that is handled and fed properly.
These birds are very time consuming. Young birds will bond easily to their keepers. Some live very long lives. A person considering adopting a young macaw needs to consider who will care for this bird 35-55 years from now?
To encourage this parrot to bond to more than one person, and to not be a fearful bird, it needs to socialize with more than one person on a regular basis and put in a variety of circumstances.
All macaws can be very loud, and get very cranky at times. They are very much like a toddler in regards to their attention needs, mess, personality and volume. These are not pretty birds to have in a cage as a conversation piece or as a decoration!
An obvious word of caution, big birds have big beaks. Big birds have big tantrums. When big birds have big tantrums they may use their big beaks, and someone could easily lose a finger or worse. Even though a bird may be sweet and cuddly 99% of the time, you still need to get to know its body language to avoid disaster.
If you want to learn more about this subject, read our Parrot Training page.
Another factor to consider is boredom. You need to provide plenty of toys for your parrot to attack and also some to destroy. We have some toys at competitive prices on our Parrot Bird Toy page.
Visit our Parrot Bird Toys page here
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Common Large Macaws
There are many large and small birds in this species. We provide information on the smaller of the species on the Mini Macaw page. Listed below are a few of the more common large species.
Blue and Gold Macaws are more readily available and usually the least expensive of the larger species. They are playful, fun-loving birds. This species has the ability to have a good-sized vocabulary, but there are no guarantees. They are very sociable and typically make a great family pet when everyone spends time with it.
Catalina Macawsare a hybrid of the Blue & Gold and Scarlet species. This species is usually laid back and makes a sweet gentle family pet.
Green-Winged Macaws are often confused with the Scarlet, but there are differences. The red on the Green-Wing is darker and it is missing the bare facial patch and the yellow band of feathers on its wings that the Scarlet has. The Green-Wing has red or red and black feather stripes on its facial patch and a green band of feathers following the red feathers on its wings.
These birds are the second largest of the macaw family. They are reported to be noisier but not necessarily louder than other macaws. They will go through the “terrible twos” before they get to the everlasting toddler stage, but patience and persistence in training will get you through. Read our Parrot Training page for more information.Like most other macaws, they will usually form a strong bond with their human companions. Some are reported to be good talkers and they are sweet and affectionate if raised in the proper environment. They are highly intelligent and prone to get into mischief.
Harlequin Macaws are a cross between a Blue and Gold and a Green-Wing. Their personality captures the best of both. They have more of their father’s coloring than their mother’s.
They have the ability to have a good vocabulary like their parents. Just like the other macaws, they need to be handled regularly by more than one person if you don’t want them to be a one-person bird.
Hyacinth Macaws are the largest of the parrot family. They bond readily to their human flock and will desire their attention. They are eager to please and easy to train. They love to play and cuddle.
The Hyacinth requires a specialized diet high in fat and carbohydrates and low in protein. (Wouldn’t you like to be a Hyacinth?) In the wild they live primarily on palm nuts. In captivity they should be fed a variety of nuts. There is some debate about pellets, mainly because most pellets have too much protein for Hyacinths. Talk to the Harrison’s Bird Food Company and talk to your vet, make an educated decision. I’ll leave out my opinion.
Military Macaws are the smallest of the full-sized macaws and typically more even tempered. Social interaction, nutrition and environment always play a part in a parrot’s personality. Many love being held and cuddling with their human flock. They may pick a favorite person, but will usually interact with everyone who spends time with it on a regular basis.
Red Fronted Macaws are the smallest of the large macaws. They are colorful little clowns! They are said to be great mimics and cuddly. Many find this intelligent parrot to be their favorite.
Scarlet Macaws are often confused with the Green-Wing, besides having the different markings described above, they are reported to be feistier and more temperamental than the Green-Wing. They require a lot of attention and patience to keep them at a manageable level. This is not to say that they are not often sweet affectionate companion birds.
The Scarlet is very intelligent and may develop a good vocabulary. They have a loud voice and are not shy to use it.
General Behavior Issues
Any large parrot can be very dangerous if they are not tame. Even a tame parrot may strike someone out of fear or anger. A bite from a large parrot could mean a hospital visit for stiches.
That said, a hand-tame Macaw that was well socialized and loved by it's breeder, will probably make a lovely companion. Each Macaw is different, so it is advised that you spend time with your would-be parrot before bringing one home.
Macaw's have very loud voices. It is not advised that you keep a Macaw in an apartment setting or where houses are located close together.
The Free Parrot training course below is a great start on the road to a happy relationship. After you finish with Chet's free Parrot Training information, I'm sure you will want to purchase his entire Parrot Training System!"
With the exception of the Hyacinth, all of these birds should have a variety of healthy foods offered to them. You will need to provide at least 80 percent of diet with top-quality pellets. We like the Totally Organics Pellets that we carry because they are 100% organic and they don't even have artificial vitamins in them. This is important if you have a bird with allergies. We also carry Harrison's High Potency Organic Pellets.
I suggest that you pick one that is organic and not artificially dyed. Anything artificial has to be cleansed by the kidneys before it can be used. A lot of pellets are just junk.
Switching Birds To Pellets article
The other 20 percent of their diet should consist of some seed blend along with dehydrated or fresh colorful vegetables, beans, rice and a little fruit, again preferably organic. Remember that the chemicals sprayed and fed to plants have to be cleansed by their tiny kidneys. The Totally Organics All In One Seed Mix is a great choice!
CAUTION: Never give your parrot alcohol, avocado or chocolate - these can kill your parrot! Also avoid asparagus, eggplant, cabbage, caffeine products, junk food, milk and cream, raw potato, and rhubarb (including the leaves).
No matter what the manufacturer of pellets say, most experienced parrot breeders and owners will tell you that parrots on an all pellet diet are not as healthy as those that get a variety of healthy foods.
Get some high quality organic pellets and dehydrated veggie, fruit and nut mixes here.
When fresh fruits and vegetables are not possible, dehydrated fruits and vegetables are great! Many birds love to crunch on dried fruits and veggies.
The best thing about them is that they don't spoil, so you can leave them in the cage for hours or even days. This is handy when you are trying to get them to accept fruits and veggies.
When you are going to be home with them, you can moisten them with warm water to provide fresh-like fruits and veggies. Boy does this come in handy when you are traveling or on an outing!
See the Lixit Bottles we sell at competitive prices here!
We provide bath water in the morning and sometimes in the evening on warm days, but we only leave it in there one to two hours so that they don’t drink nasty water all day.
Do invest in a water bottle. You will avoid lots of potential health problems by insuring they have clean water to drink that hasn’t been bathed and pooped in.
If your parrot has not used a water bottle before, you will need to provide both a water bottle and a dish until you see that they are drinking from the bottle.
Lixit makes a glass water bottle that has a wire instead of a spring that keeps it on the cage if you are worried about safety. (Some birds get their foot or beak stuck in the spring attachment on other bottles.)
We have some cages you can get from us at really competitive prices!
Provide the largest high-quality cage you can possibly fit in your room. The minimum size allowable depends on the adult size of the bird. They need room to have lots of safe wood toys to play with and destroy.
They need to have sufficient room to move and turn around between those toys. If the cage doesn’t come with a play-top, then invest in a play stand so that they can get out of the cage and be near you at least a couple of hours a day.
Consider getting a cage with a playpen on top for them to play on when you are home. The more room they have the happier they will be. Our play top cages have a toy hook attached they are sure to enjoy.
Cages for Vet Visits and Outings
You need to consider what type of carrier you will use for transporting your Macaw in. You never know if you might break down or may decide to take your parrot with you on a trip.
Purchase a comfortable cage for these occasions. Depending on the size of your Macaw, you may need the carrier pictured below or you may be able to use the Adventure Pack if you have a small Macaw.
Look at Travel Bird Cages now
Macaw Stories Writen By Their Owners
Below is a list of Macaw pictures and some have short informational stories written by their owners. You will want to read all of them! Have fun.
When done reading about Macaws, visit our Discount Parrot Supply Store