9 Tips on Caring for Macaws ...

Birds have always intrigued me, especially parrots. The first time I went on vacation to a tropical climate, I got to see Macaws in their natural habitat. A flock of Scarlet Macaws flew overhead while I was listening to the waves on a secluded beach and it was the most fantastic sight I had ever seen. It wasn’t what I was expecting to see as I sat relaxing in the sand. I have a friend who raises Scarlet Macaws and the Blue and Gold Macaws. If you are looking into brining one of these wonderful birds into your household, here are 9 tips for caring for Macaws you might want to take a look at.

9. Socialize Your Macaw

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Photo Credit: Butch Osborne

These large birds are naturally social animals and will be better-rounded if exposed to many different people throughout their life. Young Macaws should be handled by friends and family members, in order for them to gain trust in other humans and not be scared of new people. Changing their surroundings doesn’t hurt either. Macaws should experience many situations, such as visits to the vet, a new cage, or getting their nails and wings trimmed.

8. Place Cage in a Sunny Location

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Photo Credit: City Parrots

Being from a tropical climate, Macaws naturally enjoy sunshine. Make sure the cage is at eye level and in an area where it is sunny, but not drafty. The cage should also be set up in a way that your bird is able to get out of the sunlight if he wants to. It is possible for a bird to overheat, just like any other animal.

7. Regular Bathing is Necessary

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Photo Credit: Dave Womach

Bird baths keeps the skin from drying out and promotes good plumage. I have a couple of friends that take their Macaws into the shower with them. Both have a roost in the shower where the Macaw can set and preen itself in the mist from the shower. If you aren’t comfortable with this method of bathing your bird, then using a hand held kitchen sprayer with luke warm water is another option.

6. Offer Food Made Specifically for Macaws

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Photo Credit: Dave Womach

Regular bird food doesn’t have all the nutrients that Macaws need. These large birds require feed rich in calories and oils. Some formulas consist of seeds, pellets, and even chunks of dried fruit. You might find that your Macaw prefers a specific brand more than others. The average serving size for most Macaws is around a half cup to three-fourths of a cup of feed.

5. Allow Them to Play as Much as Possible

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Photo Credit: Dave Womach

Playpens are sometimes used for Macaws to enjoy being outdoors, but in a safe environment. They like playing with toys, climbing on ropes or special trees made for parrots. Chains, bells, and wooden bird toys are also a source of enjoyment for most Macaws. An outdoor aviary isn’t something that everyone is able to have, due to location or funds, but it can be a great area for your Macaw to play during nice weather.

4. Make Sure the Cage is Roomy Enough

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Photo Credit: Dave Womach

Being a large bird, Macaws need a cage that they won’t be cramped in. They should be able to set on the perch and fully extend their wings at the same time. The tip of the wings shouldn’t be able to touch the sides. The largest Macaw has a wingspan of around 3 to 3 and one half feet, which gives you a general idea as to how big the cage should be. The cage should be tall enough that the Macaw can climb from one perch to another, in order to exercise muscles.

3. Supplement Main Diet with Fresh Fruits and Veggies

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Photo Credit: sansanparrots

Macaws like a wide variety of fruits and vegetables; oranges, grapes, plums, mangos, strawberries, zucchini, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables, and carrots. Treats of almonds, filberts, walnuts, pecans, and macadamias can also be given to your Macaw. Be sure to supply your bird with plenty of fresh water to go with his food as well. Some birds will drop their food into the water and pick it back out after a few seconds, which can cause the water to become filled with pieces of food very quickly.

2. Provide Plenty of Attention

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Photo Credit: sansanparrots

Playing with your Macaw regularly and showing lots of affection will help him remain a healthy and happy bird. Signs of neglect can include loud screeching noises, the plucking of feathers, and other types of self-mutilation. In the wild, Macaws don’t live alone; they will often find a small group of Macaws to live with. Choosing a Macaw that has been hand-raised will provide you with a good base to start with. It’s much harder to get an adult Macaw to be social right away if he wasn’t handled as a baby.

1. You’ll Need a High Tolerance for Noise

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Photo Credit: Marina C.Ribeiro- I'm Back!!!!!

The many vocalizations of these birds can be heard for long distances. If you have your Macaw in an outside cage, make sure he isn’t a nuisance to the neighbors. They can stir up quite the conversation when more than one Macaw gets together! Don’t reprimand your bird for his vocalizations, since these are natural sounds for him to make. This would be like telling your cat to quit meowing.

Remember to take into consideration that these birds live an average of 50 years. People buying young birds when they themselves are in their late 50s have to think about what will happen to their Macaw that is left behind if the owners die before their bird does. This isn’t something people want to think about, since death is often a touchy subject with some people, but think of the poor bird left alone and how hard it will be for him to understand what is going on. What sparked your interest in Macaws? Are you thinking about getting one in the near future?

Top Photo Credit: Momba (Trish)

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