If you are looking for a pet bird that will really draw attention, be a stunning addition to your household and be an amusing addition to your family, the Macaw may be the bird for you. When most people think of Macaws, a large, brightly colored bird comes to mind, and that is reasonable; however there are many options when choosing the right Macaw for you. The Macaw variety of parrots actually have many varieties to consider ranging in size from about 12 inches to the largest birds in the parrot family measuring a grand total of 39 inches from beak to tail. The largest Macaw variety, the hyacinth can have a wingspan of up to 4 feet in width.
Housing Your Macaw
Because of the extremely large size of most of the species, they require a lot of space to keep them properly. Scarlet, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, and the Hyacinth macaws need cages that are 5 feet wide and 6 feet tall at a minimum. Even at that size, the housing will be somewhat cramped although it will allow the bird to stretch its wings to full length. When keeping a large Macaw in the minimum cage size it is still necessary to make sure they get plenty of time outside the cage to move about.
The best enclosures for large Macaws are aviaries where they can fly about and explore. Most homes are not equipped to provide room-sized enclosures, but owners take their birds out and interact with them daily to give them a full and happy life. If your home isn’t large enough for even an average cage to keep one of the larger Macaws, you can still enjoy this bright, intelligent and jovial bird. There are many far smaller Macaws that still offer the attributes of the larger varieties without needing such enormous enclosures.
Varieties of Macaws
One of the smaller macaws of the 19 different varieties is the Lesser Antillean Macaw. It is a brilliantly colored bird. The predominant color is bright red, and the wings have a combination of yellow, green and blue to complete the picture. The Lesser Macaw measures between 15 and 20 inches in length, and can be kept in a cage appropriate for an Amazon or African gray comfortably.
The smallest is the Red-Shouldered Macaw. This personable little bird, also known as the Hahn’s Macaw, is olive green with some red on its shoulder area. It is an average 12 inches long, and is happy in a cage suitable for a cockatiel or other small parrot.
Some other smaller Macaws include the Blue-winged Macaw, the Golden-Collared Macaw and the Blue-headed Macaw. All of these birds are between 15 and 16 inches in length.
Another option for smaller housing is the Red-bellied Macaw that is about 18 inches in length.
The most common Macaws that people choose are the mammoth birds that range between 30 and 39 inches in length. These varieties include the Blue-throated Maca, the Scarlet, the Military, Red-fronted, Green-winged, Great Green Macaw and Blue-and-Yellow Macaw.
From big to small, the Macaws are typically very affectionate towards their owners. They enjoy cuddling and spending time with the people they love. However, they can become possessive over certain people and aggressive toward others, even other family members in the household. Because of the size of most of the more popular Macaws, aggressiveness can also be dangerous. The very powerful beaks and talons of these birds can inflict significant damage and great care should be taken when handling them.
Feeding Your Macaw
While there are many commercial parrot feeds available, it is not a good idea to give your Macaw a consistent diet that is comprised completely of those foods. Seeds and nuts are high in fat and can cause health problems over time. Macaws enjoy a varied diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables along with their seeds. They do however, need to have lots of hard foods to chew on like strong nuts, and also wood and chew toys that will keep them happy and occupied.
Lifespan of the Macaw
When buying a Macaw, you should know that these birds can live up to 80 years. Some have even lived to over 100. This is one pet that often outlives its owners, and some thought should be taken to decide how your pet will be cared for in the event you are no longer capable of providing a home for it.
There is a lot to consider when thinking about bringing a Macaw into your home. However, all of the time and work needed to provide a great environment for them is well worth the effort. Your Macaw will likely give you years of interactive companionship and a lot of joy.
Feature Photo of Two Macaws Copyright: panuruangjan / 123RF Stock Photo