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All About the Vibrant and Vivacious Macaw
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All About the Vibrant and Vivacious Macaw

Ellie, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Sep 10, 2020

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Macaws are exotic, beautiful birds known for their bright, colorful feathers, long tails, and large beaks. These affectionate and demanding birds are brilliant and have a very long lifespan, often outliving their owners. They are a lifelong commitment, but if you're prepared for a long-term feathered friend, macaw just might be the right pet for you.

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1

Types of macaws

Waving hyacinth macaw eurobanks / Getty Images

When thinking of these beautiful birds, it’s typically the scarlet macaw that comes to mind. However, 17 types of macaws exist in the world. For example, the Hyacinth Macaw is native to Central and South America and is covered in stunningly blue feathers with vibrant yellow ring around the eyes and just underneath the beak. Hyacinths are also the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species.

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2

Health and lifespan

A Macaw at the vet DjelicS / Getty Images

The lifespans of macaws range from 30 to 90 years. The blue and gold macaws have the shortest lifespan of 30 to 35 years of age in the wild, but when kept as pets, they can live more than 50 years. Scarlet macaws, on the other hand, live up to 90 years with proper care. Despity the longevity of their lifespan, macaws are prone to several issues such as aspergillosis, beak malocclusion, psittacosis, and others.

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3

Feeding your macaw

Macaw eating a banana IPGGutenbergUKLtd / Getty Images

In their natural habitat, they eat anything from clay from river banks, nectar, leaves, fruits, seeds, and flowers. In capitivity, most macaws require a diet of seeds, nuts, and certain fruits and vegetation, but each variety of macaw has its own specific needs and preferences. Foods and liquids to avoid giving your macaw are avocados, chocolate, peanuts, fruit pits, meat, dairy, and alcohol. They should also avoid foods high in salt or foods that contain dyes or preservatives.

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4

Caring for your macaw

Blue and Yellow Macaw agustavop / Getty Images

Macaws are intelligent, curious birds who like to stay busy and need a stimulating environment with toys appropriate for a macaw. They want to include themselves in whatever happens in the home and seek attention from their owners. They will investigate everything they can, so make sure to birdproof what you can to reduce the amount of mess and havoc they create.

As much as they need a stimulating, interactive environment, they also need structure and rules. Make sure they go to bed at the same time every day as they need at least 10 hours of sleep each night. As they're easily awoken, it's best to place their sleeping area in a place with little foot traffic.

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5

Personality and behavior of macaws

Macaw with tongue out MichaelHeimlich / Getty Images

Macaws are spirited, active, and playful birds, and each one has its own personality. Their large size makes them easy to handle. However, they are not a bird for those who are new to caring for bids. In the wrong hands, they become aggressive and problematic. Macaws are very social birds, as wild macaws have flocks with up to 100 individuals. However, they tend to be a one-person bird and will likely ignore anyone they don’t consider to be their person.

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6

Macaws are chatty

Parrot couple in love. Close-up of kissing macaw parrots (Gold And Blue Macaw) Zocha_K / Getty Images

If you’re looking for a quiet pet, the macaw is not the one for you. They have a variety of whistles, honks, squawks, and screeches, but they can learn to mimic speech and learn to a few words. Depending on your bird’s interests, they may also like to sing, but in most cases, there aren’t any discernible words. A bored or upset parrot is far more likely to cause noise, so it’s best to keep them occupied.

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7

Training your macaw

Macaw Riding A Small Tricycle YunYulia / Getty Images

Macaws are trainable, and can even be trained to go to the bathroom in a designated spot. When your macaw understands that it’s supposed to go potty in a designated spot, it will fly over to that spot when it needs to. Macaws are food-motivated, so rewarding them for good behavior with a treat or to will go a long way in training them.

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8

Macaws need exercise and playtime

Flying Scarlet Macaw In Costa Rica Harry Collins / Getty Images

Your macaw will need plenty of space for exercise to be happy and healthy. They require at least 2 to 4 hours outside of their cage each day for mental stimulation, socialization, and exercise. Macaw owners should have a bird-proofed area for their bird to fly around in, and be prepared to spend time playing and interacting with their macaw.

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9

Macaws are high-maintenance pets

Macaw Playing With a Toy Parrotstarr / Getty Images

While macaws are intelligent and friendly birds, they’re pets that require a high amount of maintenance to ensure they remain happy and healthy. They're highly sensitive and emotional, so much so that people have compared to toddlers who never grow up. When macaws don’t get the care they need, they become aggressive, destructive, and territorial.

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10

Where are macaws found?

Blue and Yellow Macaw filipefrazao / Getty Images

These tropical birds are native to Mexico, Central America, and South America. They used to be native to the Caribbean as well. Their native habitats are rainforests, but others live in forests and savannah-like areas. Their numbers in the wild dwindle due to deforestation, human encroachment into their territories, and illegal trapping for the pet trade.

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