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Looking for a good companion animal? If you are thinking of a bird, perhaps you should consider the possibility of taking a macaw, one of the most loved and appreciated by bird lovers.

Types of macaws

What is a macaw?

The macaw is a genus of birds of the parrot family, being this variant of American origin, especially in the jungles of Mexico and northeastern Argentina.

Within the order of the Psittaciformes, it is the bigest species, since it can reach 90 centimeters, although the normal thing is that they measure about 75 centimeters. It can weigh up to 1.5 kilograms.

They are climbing birds that like to do acrobatics, so they usually move around the space they have in their cage or around the house. They are not as good imitators as the common parrot, but they can be taught to repeat the human voice.

Its plumage is very colorful and bright, and it fits perfectly with the rainforests of Central and South America, especially the green color, one of the most characteristic. Its beak is large and robust, being able to break easily the husks of the nuts. Unlike other birds, the macaw has a bone on his tongue, which is dry and scaly, which makes it a very good tool to hit.

How is the character of the macaws?

Faced with other variants of parrots, the macaw is a docile animal with a very strong gregarious instinct. If it is used to living with humans from an early age, it is not very difficult to get links with them. They do not like to be alone in the cage, although they are not very good at sharing cages with smaller birds

It is very active and quite noisy, who likes to play, as well as being a pretty demanding pet when it comes to receiving affection. At the time of training them it is not usually complicated, since they are animals that can quickly catch affection with human beings and do not dislike to learn some tricks.

Keep in mind that depending on the type of macaw this may has one character or another .. For example, the blue and yellow macaws has an affable character and are quite affectionate and playful in front of the green-winged macaws, which are very friendly but of a much calmer character.

How long can a macaw live?

Making the decision to host a macaw at home is to opt for a bird with a long life. The average life expectancy of the macaws can reach 80 years, with some specimens that have even reached 100 years.

Although they can live a long time, it does not mean that they do not has to take care of them or monitor them, since some macaws do not reach 20 years of age due to human carelessness or because they escape and do not get used to the wild life. Having this animal has the same obligations as a dog or a cat.

Can you distinguish the female from the male?

Actually, most of the macaws are monomorphic, which means that both sexes have the same external appearance. They have very slight differences that only the most expert are able to distinguish between a male or a female

What happens if you want to breed this species? In that case you have to go to a specialist to perform a chromosomal or DNA analysis to be sure of who is the male and who the female in the flock that you have at home.

How can you get the confidence of a macaw?

Although they are very friendly and affectionate animals, that does not mean that nothing else to arrive at house goes to establish a friendship with its owner. Like the relationship with all animals, you have to work on the animal’s confidence.

First of all, it has to be  young, as in adult specimens it is more difficult to gain their trust, especially if it has lived its whole life in freedom. Do not overwhelm the animal or force it to establish a relationship unless it wants it.

So, what should you do? First of all, do not be disturbed by your presence, for this the cage must be located in a place where daily life of the whole family is made, so that the animal becomes accustomed to the presence. At first it may protest, but little by little it will calm down. You can get closer to the cage a bit, to begin to get in touch, but if it start to get upset the best thing is to get away until it is calm. In this way you will mark the distance limit with which you will have to start.


Little by little, every day you go closer to the cage, until you finally get close to it. Then it’s time to start “buying” with some trinkets, like millet on branch, also known as panizo, or other food that it like a lot. You may reject it, so you’ll have to leave it alone with the bauble in its cage. Repeat the process every day until it finally want to eat it when you give it to them. Little by little, it will be approaching without hesitation to take it.

You’ve got it? Because if so, it’s time to put your hand to try to feed it by the hand. Again the process has to be slow and calm, so that it does not become overwhelmed. Surely you do not get it the first time, so you’ll have to repeat it every day until you finally want to do it.

Take it out of its cage

It is recommended that the macaw is not allowed to leave the cage until a contact has been established with it. Surely, once it eat from your hand, it would not be strange that he liked to rest on your arm.

But when you take it out of the cage, you should know that it is very possible that it does not pay attention to you. it will explore all that is around it to know the environment that surrounds it and get used to it. You have to leave it at its leisure to investigate the entire stay and then it will get tired and want to go back to its cage. If it do not want to go back toits cage, do not pick it up or grab it. Approach it with a bauble to put on your arm, then give it to it and put it back in the cage.

Buy a cage, how does it has to be?

To make you more or less an idea about how large a macaw’s cage should be, it has to be twice as big as the size of its wings, from one to the other, extended. It should not be round, since this generates several disturbances in the birds, even if they look very nice in the stores.

The door of this one must be wide, which allows to leave to the macaw of the cage without problems or to put the arm if you want that this one is posed in your arm. The bars must be vertical with little distance between each bar, so that the macaw can not put his head between the bars and thus not drown.

The feeders hasto be stainless steel, so they do not spoil easily. It is better that they are located on the outside, because if it is inside, when they are very young could escape through the door of the trough or drinking fountain.

They are very clean animals, so you will have to remove stools often. So the tray should be easy to extract from the bottom of the floor grid. It is also good that it is made of stainless steel or a material that will not spoil easily when you are cleaning it.

Once the ideal cage is found, it is time to decide what is to be inside it. First of all are the hangers, which will be laid most of the time. It is recommended that these be tree branches because they can be sanded nails in them and do not hurt the legs, as with plastic. Of course it also need some toys, such as hoops, stairs or rubber toys, which will help you exercise.

However, in no case you have to buy for it a mirror or always hasthe same toys inside the cage. You can take advantage of the cage cleaning time to put a new toy and that way you have a new way of exercising.

where should you place the cage?

In front of the cage of a parakeet the one of a macaw is larger, but this does not mean that it does not need to be located in a suitable place.

For example, it should be located in the room where the house is most alive, such as the living room, which helps the animal not feel alone all day and also helps to control it. There should be no air currents in the place that is located, so you have to avoid this very close to windows, and at least two sides of the cage are glued to the wall, so it know by which side we will approach to it.

The cage should not be at a very low or very high height. The best thing is that it is at eye level with the owner, because if it is too low they feel intimidated, while if it is very high, they feel too powerful and it is impossible to establish a relationship with them.

Near the television? They do not have as many problems as other animals if the cage is located facing a TV, as it helps them learn words, but can not see it directly, because the flashes on the screen can blind or cause epileptic seizures

The cage is dirty, how should you clean it?

Yes, the macaws are pretty clean birds and at least a couple of times a month they like their owner to leave the cage shining. But how do you clean a macaw’s cage?

The first thing is to let our bird out. In the event that it is not yet used to moving around the room or being in contact with us, we must move her to another cage, joining the doors so that it can pass on her own or tempt it with some trinket. If it is used to leaving the cage, you just have to let it fly around the house or do whatever it want while you clean it.

To clean the cage it is best to bleach diluted in water, applied with a dishcloth to prevent lint from remaining on the rack. Then you have to disinfect and clean all the corners of the cage with a brush. After about 15 minutes, rinse with plenty of water until you have eliminated the trace of bleach and dry with kitchen blotter.

It is possible that during the cleaning process the bird escapes from the cage and wants to be around the house. Remember, you do not have to shout at it or force iy to return to their cage by force. Try to tempt it with trinkets and close the door so it can not go to another room. When it is hungry, it will return to his cage.

Raising it outside the cage, is it advisable?

There are many owners who consider it a cruelty to have the macaw locked in a cage and since they are small they has been roaming around the house. But is this really good for the macaw?

Well, the macaws are very intelligent birds and unlike the parakeets, it is not that they get used to flying around the house. The only thing they really need is a place to rest on when they sleep, like a hanger, where you can put newspaper on the floor so that their faeces fall.

There is nothing wrong with raising it like that, but you have to think that in this case you have to always be aware that all the windows are closed so that it does not fly. When it comes to establishing a relationship with it, it is also easier, but that does not mean that you do not have to work for arise a friendship whith it .

What can you feed a macaw?

Some species of birds can be said to eat everything and although it is best to feed them, there are other types of food that can be given to achieve a complete diet and that is very beneficial for your body.

It can be said that some species of birds eat everything and, although it is better to feed them, there are other types of foods that can be administered to achieve a complete diet and that are very beneficial for its body.

Let’s start with what is known as dry foods. This should be 10% of your body weight per day, be it a small mixed assortment of a high-energy feed, of specific seeds for macaws, a bit of nuts such as cashews, nuts or hazelnuts and some germinated legumes.

Besides, they should also consume what is known as wet food, which should be 10 – 12% of the weight of the macaw, such as a fruit salad. When it is given, it must be composed of 5 different ingredients that have a great caloric intake, such as banana, grape or coconut. You can also give them some vegetables such as lettuce, chard or spinach, as long as they are well chopped.

Can you give them some other foods? Yes, even if they are not part of your diet you can occasionally get some bread, rice or pasta, even a little bit of boiled egg. But you do not have to get used to it

I want my macaw to learn to say words, how do I do it?

Has it been easy for you to get the macaw closer ties with you? Because if so, you should know that getting it to speak is going to be much harder. Some macaws learn words on their own when they hear them for a long time in the environment in which their cage is located, but whoever learns what their owner wants, requires a lot of time.

First of all, establish a practice schedule, which should never exceed 15 minutes, because the macaw will be bored of hearing you repeat the same word. The sessions must be in solitary, between the owner and the macaw, having off any type of electronic device that could disturb the training.

The bird must be a young animal, from 4 months is when they begin to imitate sounds. But you have to keep in mind that there are specimens that learn before others. Some never get to be able to say any word.

The words you want to teach must be simple and repeated several times during the 15 minutes of the session. It will not go to the first nor to the second, but it is possible that in less than a week it will be able to pronounce it. If this is the case, give it a treat. If it return to pronounce another, but not the third or get used to having to give something to eat every time it say that word.

It is an exercise of constant effort with which you do not have to give up. At first you can teach words like “Hello” or learn to say the name of your owner or someone in the house when it see him . In the event that the animal shows great potential to be able to make sounds, in that case it can be taught to ask for food, such as “I want an apple”.

In the event that you can not devote 15 minutes to your parrot, there are other tricks to teach him to talk. The most typical was to use a cassette tape to learn to say a word (which lasts 15 minutes of the session), but today recourse to recordings by mobile or computer.

I think my macaw is sick, what can it be?

Although macaws are a bird that can live as long as a human being, they are not exempt from being sick. A good owner knows that his parrot is sick , because if it is very lively and one day it is off it is because is is not very well, or if it is suddenly very nervous when it has always been calm, it is because something is altering it a lot, like the parasites.

So, what types of diseases can the macaws have?

Pacheco’s disease: A highly infectious and deadly disease for this type of bird. It is caused by a spread of Herpesvirus and affects the birds of the parrot family. It is possible that once infected the parrot does not present symptoms, but the animal dies within a few days of contracting the disease that damages its organs. In case of detecting an animal with this infection, it must be separated from the rest.

Salmonellosis: Diarrhea, weight loss, arthritis … is usually a disease that is transmitted by direct contact between two specimens or their feces. It can be cured using antibiotics mixed with the water and cleaning the cage well.

PBFD: It is known as the disease of beak and feathers, a viral disease that affects all of the family of parrots. It is a virus that attacks the growth cells of the feathers, the beak and the claws, causing malformations in these. The bird stops eating and may suffer from diarrhea.

Papilomatosis: A viral infection caused by the growth of papillomas in the digestive tract of the macaw. The animal will pant if it is in the mouth, but if it is in the cloaca, then its provisions will contain blood and have an abnormal smell. The animal can also has gases.

Smallpox: Although not as serious as the previous ones, it can also be deadly, since it is transmitted through blood sucking bugs that adhere to the bird and begin to attack. It can be transmitted from one bird to another. Those that are affected are decayed, they hasfever, pustules on their legs and corners on their beaks and eyelids.

Psittacosis: Although it is a disease that animals suffer from, it is contagious to humans, which is transmitted by inhaling the dust from fecal material of birds or by manipulating birds in slaughterhouses. The affected bird may lose its appetite, has a disheveled appearance, eye discharge and diarrhea. To cure the bird you have to give antibiotics or it could die.

Malnutrition: Poor nutrition of the macaw not only has to end in that it is obese. It may also have plumage in poor condition, suffer respiratory problems, be very thin but eat enough nutrients or that is of poor quality.

Feather plucking: You may suddenly notice that your macaw is plucking feathers or there is some part of the body that is lacking this. The motives can be external parasites, skin alterations, sexual frustration but can be paired or skin irritation due to environmental factors such as humor. You may also start them if you feel bored or jealous. To fix it you can provide tranquilizers, a spray that gives a bad flavor to your feathers or a collar.

Fracture: The parrot can hurt itself and break a wing or leg. In these cases it is best to go to the vet to take charge. It is normal for birds that go out to explore the room for the first time, so you have to watch it.

Bleeding: If it has started to pluck feathers it would not be strange that a cut could be made that ended in hemorrhage. In these cases it is necessary to press on the wound with the fingers, to plug it, with a gauze and disinfect it when it has stopped bleeding with chlorhexidine or iodine.

Burns: It is not normal for a macaw to burn, but if it is very close to the sun or it is usual to walk around the kitchen, it could not be strange either. In these cases you have to wash the affected area with cold water and then use some ointment.

Inhalation of humor: It is important that the macaw be away from all sources of smoke, and this also means being away from tobacco smoke. In the case of smoking, it must be done away from the room where the bird is.

Heat stroke: If the bird’s cage is located in a place where it is very hot, it will not be strange that in summer it begins to breathe with difficulty and to have separated the wings of the body. In these cases you have to wash the macaw with cold water to cool.

Egg retention: It is something strange that happens, but it is possible. This especially happens in adult females or those that have not been fed properly. In this case it is necessary to apply a little heat in the cloaca, using for example steam, or a little oil to facilitate the exit.

I want my macaws to breed, what do I have to know?

Once they has mated, it is normal for the brood to be two eggs, although on special occasions they has three eggs. The incubation will last about 30 days. At first the young are blind, so they will depend entirely on the mother until they are 2 – 3 months old, by which time they leave the nest to has their plumage. Then they will be with the parents for another six months, until they learn to fend for themselves and can be placed in a different cage.

The macaws are not adults until they turn 7 yars and when they form a bond with their partner, this is for life, so it is quite difficult to get a macaw to join another female that is not the first one it chose as such. . It is impossible? No, but being an animal that joins his partner so much, it is not surprising that it enters depression if it dies and wants to be alone in his cage.