Macaws are not a single species; instead, they are a group of 17 species within the true parrot Psittacidae family. Macaws are beautiful, exotic-looking birds with large beaks, bright feathers, long tails, and light or white facial patches. Most of these species are big, friendly, and extraordinarily noisy, although there are a handful of miniature species. They require a lot of space to live healthy, active lives. It is common to deed pet macaws in wills and end of life plans as these birds may outlive their owners, though disease and poor nutrition can shorten their lifespan.
Macaws are large, colorful South American parrots. Europeans learned about these “New World” parrots from Christopher Columbus’ journey logs in the 15th century.
Macaws are playful and active, and they have exuberant personalities that match their size. A well-cared-for macaw that receives appropriate nutrition, mental stimulation, enrichment, attention, and plenty of space for exercise makes a unique, long-lived companion that is affectionate and loyal.
Macaws are loud and noisy. Their vocalizations can be more than some people can tolerate, and they can scream when they want to. If you can’t deal with noise or if you have nearby neighbors, then a macaw is not your ideal pet.
There are several species of macaws in the wild, but the ones most commonly in the pet trade are large, colorful macaws. Scarlet, military, blue and gold, and hyacinth macaws are the common pet macaw species. Mini macaws are harder to find but include species such as Hahn’s, Illiger’s, and yellow-collared macaws.
Macaws need a large and durable cage, so be prepared to make a significant investment. Mini macaws can live in a cage sized for Amazon parrots (2 feet by 3 feet and 4 feet tall). Larger macaws will need a cage that is at least 3 feet by 4 feet and 5 feet tall. The cage must be strong enough to withstand the significant beak strength of macaws—a stainless steel or wrought iron cage is a good investment. You will also need to offer your bird a play gym or out-of-cage perch or play stand.
Macaws are usually hardy, long-lived birds. Their most significant health issue is not physical but emotional. As intelligent, social beings, macaws are prone to boredom and loneliness. A depressed macaw will self-injure by pulling out its feathers. There are two simple solutions to this problem: Either get more than one macaw or spend a great deal of time interacting with your pet. Either way, you will have a loud, highly interactive home life.