Macaw and wood - Photo by Tambako the Jaguar
Now we are going to talk of the genus of the Macaw Parrot. There are about 17 different species within the Macaw parrot genus. They are all on the CITES index, which means that Macaw parrots, like Amazons, Pionus, Caique and Cockatoo parrots all protected exportation out of the wilds like Brazil, Central and South America and the likes of Mexico; also including Australia. On what is called the CITES Treaty; CITES stands for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. The CITES also known as the Washington Convention was created by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It was adopted in 1963, the convention then opened for signatures in 1973 and entered into force on July 1, 1985.
Macaw parrots are on the CITES appendix ranging from extinction to vulnerable. Of the 17 species of Macaws, there are two that are extinct in the wild; they are the Spix Macaw and the Glaucous Macaw. The reason that Macaws have been placed on the CITES Index is that of the deforestation of the Amazon and the illegal trapping of these majestic creatures. There are many conservation acts that have been put in place in the last 20 years.
There are the large Macaw parrots such as the Blue and Gold, Scarlet, Green Wing and Hyacinth that are known. There is the Mini-Macaw parrot and they behave just like their counterparts with big personalities, affection and yes their vocalization; may not be as loud but just as vocal. The several types of mini-Macaw parrots they are the Severe, Yellow-Collared, Illeger’s and of course the Hahn’s, to name a few.
They are just as social, animated and loyal to their owners like the larger Macaw parrots. If you your house cannot fit a larger Macaw and you have always wanted one of these majestic animals; I highly recommend a Mini-Macaw parrot. You will not be disappointed. You get all the benefits of a large Macaw parrot just in a small package. They may not be as colorful but their shades of green are breathtaking.
Macaw parrots vocalize with screams and squawks; these are ways of communicating with flock (family). Identifying each other and marking their territory. You may believe that this behavior is only displayed in the wild; no, this is also their way to speak in a domesticated situation in your home. They are loud so I do not recommend getting one in an apartment situation. Macaw parrots are good talkers not just mimicking speech.
Their diet consists of seed, I advocate a type of pellet included, fruits such as apples, oranges, mango, papaya, banana, berries, and veggies like squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, baby carrots (they can hold like a toy), red peppers and many more. Remember that all fruits and veggies need to be washed as there are pesticides on them and they will pass through their small kidneys. Dehydrated fruits and veggies are great because they don’t spoil. They are perfect when you are going on a trip. That is if your parrot will eat them. Just like humans, they prefer the real thing. NEVER give your parrot alcohol, avocado, and chocolate as they are toxic. They can kill your parrot. Also avoid asparagus, eggplant, cabbage, caffeine products, junk food, milk and cream, raw potato and rhubarb (including the leaves).
Macaw parrots are like a feathered 3-year-old child you are going to bring into your home. They are very cuddly and animated; an excellent choice to have in any home, as they form very strong bonds within the family dynamics. They are very playful, sweet, the class clown and extremely social. They are smart and inquisitive which leads them to trouble. They are chewers and will chew anything. Like I said they are inquisitive by nature and may wander into your dining room and see that antique dining set your grandmother gave you. They don’t see it as a family heirloom they see it as a toy and oh boy, it is something to chew. I recommend if you have anything important that you do not want to become kindle for the fire, keep it out of their way.
They wander around the floor like your dog following you from room to room. It is so they can be with you and with their inquisitive nature, to see what they can get into. The nice thing about Macaw parrot is that many can stay on a playpen or stand while you are gone and will stay put. Though like any parrot they should have a cage to retreat to for food or just to take a nap.
If you decide to cage your Macaw parrot, you need to adhere to the guidelines of caging your parrot. You need to get the largest cage possible! The large macaw parrot has a wingspan up to 3½ feet and from head to tail they can measure at 4 feet. They need to have the space to move around from perch to perch, play with toys and climb their cage. Their cage must be twice the size of their wingspan and twice the size of their tail. If you do not follow these simple guidelines you will have an unhappy or injured parrot. A wrought iron or steel cage is highly recommended; a Macaw parrot’s beak is very powerful and can break open nuts like a can opener. Like I mentioned they are chewers and can chew through many perches you purchase. I suggest Manzanita or Iron Wood. They will eventually get through it but not as frequently. It is best to have dishes that are attached to the cage or you will find them on the floor. When you put dishes in their cage, get one for food, water, and fruits/veggies/ treats and put them next to their perches. They are escape artists so get a cage with a lock on the door.
Toys are very important as it will occupy your parrot while you are out and they are caged. Like any parrot, if boredom sets in you will get behavioral problems. I highly advise you to get toys, toys and more toys. Get them toys they can throw, thrash, chew, and make noise with. I like to get toys with wood blocks, plastic chain link, and bells. They love to destroy so allow them to do so with toys. It is a difference between a happy healthy parrot and an unhappy parrot with behavioral issues.
When you place the cage in your home with the new baby, put in a high traffic area so your Macaw parrot can interact with the family and socialize with people when they come over. Be sure to not put in an area without a draft. They love to interact with people so keep it where your parrot can see all that is going on in the household. These are not pretty birds to stick in a cage for a conversation piece or decoration, they are a new addition to the family and need to be treated as just that.
Macaw parrots are very endearing and bring much joy to your household. When they reach about a year to 18 months they become more boisterous and mischievous. This is a fun time and but you have to set the limits with your Macaw parrot. All macaw parrots are very loud and get cranky like your toddler. They can throw temper tantrums. Keep this in mind; they are a big bird with a big beak. You could easily be in a situation that requires stitches or worse could lose a finger. This is not to scare you but you need to know what you are dealing with. Your Macaw parrot will probably be sweet 99% of the time; you just need to be able to read their body language to avoid disaster. A parrot will generally bite out of fear or anger. Each macaw parrot is different; so spend time with your new baby before it comes home. A hand-fed baby is going to be a great addition to your family as you now will have a companion for life.
Your Macaw parrot is a unique individual. Their eye patches are like our fingerprints, each one is different. They are majestic in stature and their colorful plumage only adds to that. The large Macaw parrot is quite striking in an awry of colors like a rainbow. The Mini- Macaw parrots are generally green with coloring on their wings or around their neck. Their tail is probably as long as their body. That is why I highly advise you to get a cage as large as you can get it. Take into consideration that Macaw parrots are very good at staying in their playpen or stand when left alone so this may be another option you may want to consider.
People have begun to breed hybrid Macaw parrots. People reported the overabundance of female Blue and Gold Macaw parrots which differs from the general rule of other captive Macaw parrots and parrots in general, where the males are more abundant; which explains why the Blue and Gold Macaw parrot is the most hybridized Macaw parrot. The only difference with a hybrid Macaw parrot is the true genetics and coloring. Male offspring take on the traits of their mother and the females take on the traits of their father. Yes, they have beautiful coloring but you need to be careful as there may be some behavior issues you will not find in a true genetic Macaw parrot.
I want to point out is that Macaw parrots are not for the first time parrot owner. They are time-consuming and require a lot of attentive attention. They are very social and strong-minded. You need to give them the time and energy they deserve and also be able to set the boundaries for your new baby. This commitment is one for life and Macaw parrots do live beyond 35 years. You need to keep in mind; as to who will care for your Macaw parrot if anything should happen to you. They are not known for great talkers but they make it up in character, how cuddly they are and being a parrot you can easily train. This is only true of any parrot that is socialized, handled properly and fed a proper diet.
Having a macaw is going to be one of the greatest joys you will ever experience. They are majestic, captivating and endearing. My wife used to walk to downtown Santa Barbara with Qazi, a Green Wing (one of the largest of the Macaw species) on her shoulder like a pirate. He would just hang on her shoulder ever so gently and they would cruise State Street telling everybody about her step-mother’s bird store. He was a great conversation piece. When we were in Mexico we went into a restaurant that had a Military, the Macaw was just hanging out and came over to our table ever so curious, he climbed up and sat on my wife’s Louis Vuitton purse and started chewing. This Macaw did not see it as an expensive handbag; he saw it as a new toy to chew. As we were sitting there the owner of the restaurant would put the Macaw on his shoulder and run down the street with him.
From the largest to the smallest Macaws, each one is fascinating and grand with their own individuality. I hope when you decide on a parrot you consider a macaw. You need to ask yourself, “Am I ready for this big commitment.” They are not for the weary at heart; they are for a strong person who wants to take on that responsibility. If a large Macaw wouldn’t fit into your lifestyle, getting a mini-Macaw is just as rewarding and you will get the same satisfaction. Whichever you decide on, know it is going to love you unconditionally and depend on you for life.