Macaws - General

By Rick Axelson, DVM

General Informationmacaws-1

Macaws (Ara sp.) are the largest members of the parrot family. These magnificent, vividly colored birds originate from Mexico, Central and South America. They have a long tapered tail, strong body and large powerful beak. Macaws are intelligent, playful and inquisitive. This is a high maintenance bird. Considerable space is required to house this immense bird. They require plenty of affection and attention. Some birds will bond with one person, showing aggression towards others, some are nervous and excitable, while some individuals and smaller species tend to be calmer. Macaws are able to speak, but are not well known for this ability. Their vocalizations tend to be loud, harsh, penetrating squawks. Macaws love to play and chew. Their impressive beak can be exceedingly destructive. Providing a continuous supply of non-toxic, freshly washed, large branches and pet-safe toys will afford many hours of entertainment and exercise for your bird. Hardwoods such as oaks and maples will last longer. Despite the exotic appeal of macaws, they may prove unsuitable for most households or family situations. The Blue and Gold Macaw, although mischievous, is likely the most appropriate macaw for a family. The Severe Macaw is almost half the size and has a gentle nature but may prove noisy.

"Despite the exotic appeal of macaws, they may prove unsuitable for most households or family situations."

Some commonly kept macaws include the Blue and Gold Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, Severe Macaw, Green-winged Macaw and the Hyacinth Macaw.

Purchasing a Macaw

Macaws may be purchased from a pet store or a reputable breeder. When selecting a macaw, try to choose a young bird as it may be easier to tame and train. Older, wild, colony or parent raised birds may prove challenging to tame. Hand raised babies often make better pets since they have been completely socialized with humans. Young birds are easier to tame and adapt readily to new environments and situations. Your new bird should be exposed early to different events (young and old people, males and females, other pets, car trips, visits to the veterinarian, etc.) to help promote a calm, well-adjusted pet. The lively, alert bird that is not easily frightened is more likely a healthy bird. After purchasing your new bird, have it examined by a veterinarian familiar with birds.

Veterinary Care

Macaws require regular, routine veterinary health check-ups. Your veterinarian can perform a physical examination, grooming (beak, nail or feather trim as necessary) and laboratory tests as needed. During these semi-annual check-ups, health, nutritional and maintenance issues can be identified and addressed. Veterinary check-ups help prevent disease and will aid in the maintenance of a long lasting, healthy relationship between you and your bird.



  • There is a rainbow of color combinations depending on the species.
  • Blue, green, yellow, red, orange, and rusty brown
  • Most have a white, naked area of skin surrounding the eyes, extending to the beakmacaws-2


  • Similar to the adult

SexingNo external sex differences

WeightAverage 9 - 50 ounces (250 - 1400 grams)

SizeAverage 12 - 40 inches (30 - 100 cm) in length

Life span25 - 35 years (maximum 60 years or more)

DietConsult your veterinarian.

BreedingSexual maturity at 4 - 7 years depending on the species

Most are difficult to breed in captivity

Brood Size4 - 7 white eggs hatch in 23 - 28 days, young leave the nest in 3 months

CageMinimum 2 ft x 2 ft x 3 ft long (60 cm x 60 cm x 90 cm) for smaller species

Minimum 3 ft x 4 ft x 4 ft long (90 cm x 120 cm x 120 cm) for larger species

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