Due to their vocal capabilities, intelligence and complex personalities, Macaws are sometimes considered to be the ultimate pet birds
Often used to illustrate the boxes of crayons and colour pencils due to the strikingness of their colours, nature did not hold back in decorating the feathers of these birds, giving them their dynamic and beautiful colour combinations. From blue to gold to all the colours of the rainbow, macaws are the most diverselycoloured animal on earth.
There are seventeen different types of macaws, each with its own unique quirks. The larger macaw species range from about fifty centimetres (military macaws) to over a metre in height (hyacinth macaws). Mini macaws are more manageable, standing at twenty to fifty centimetres. A number of hybrid Macaws have also been produced in captivity. Macaws are high-maintenance pets. These birds are large, and so is their need for a lot of social interaction. An hour or two spent with your bird barely is enough to meet its needs. Wild macaws are never out of contact with mates and flock members for long.
While macaws can be among the sweetest of all pets, most have very strong personalities. Large, powerful beaks and brains render them as birds to be taken seriously. However, Macaws share a close bond with their owners. Infact, the relationship between a Macaw and its owner can even rival those of furry four-legged companions. Intelligent, curious and attentionloving, Macaws are generally sociable and respond well to training. Unlike cockatoos, Macaws are only physically affectionate with people they know very well.
Macaws in captivity, can live up to a hundred years. There are reports of macaws living over a hundred years, though most tend to live to be thirty to thirty-five years old. This is much longer than your typical household pet. Therefore, heavy consideration must be taken before getting a macaw.
Though long-lived and generally healthy, there are quite a few health complications these birds are susceptible to. Macaws can be prone to feather-destructive behaviours. If a complete veterinary exam rules out medical causes of feather plucking, boredom and/or lack of appropriate mental stimulation can be a cause.
Macaws are also more susceptible to proventricular dilatation disease (PDD), psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), psittacosis, beak malocclusion, and aspergillosis. Regular health checkups by an avian veterinarian can help diagnose and treat these diseases early on.
It is also normal for a macaw to sneeze a few times a day to clear out dust or dander from its nares, which may be accompanied by a clear discharge. If the sneezing is persistent and/or the discharge is not a clear colour, do contact your avian veterinarian.
A macaw needs a cage tall enough to prevent its tail feathers from hitting the cage bottom, as this may cause its tail feathers to bend or break. Overall, a macaw needs a much larger cage and play stand than other parrot species, so do take space considerations into account.
Large birds like these need patience and effort in grooming in the form of regular baths and the buffing of claws. Offer your macaw an enriched environment with plenty of opportunities for play and exercise, such as a climbing net and rope.
Large macaws have equally large vocalisations, and their squawks and screeches can get loud. A potential macaw owner needs to take a macaw’s large sound into consideration, especially when living in an apartment that is surrounded by neighbours.
“Macaws are highmaintenance pets. These birds are large, and so is their need for a lot of social interaction.”
In their natural habitat, macaws feed on native seeds, fruits, flowers, leaves and nectar. The dietary needs of some macaw species differ from that of other parrots as they require more fat in their diet. Start with a pelleted food as the basis for your macaw’s diet and supplement it with healthy fresh foods such as grains, vegetables and fruits. Pellets should make up twenty-five to fifty percent of the diet, while seeds should be no more than ten percent of the diet, as they are too high in fat. Nuts on the other hand, should be reserved as a treat.