Macaws’ big size and vibrant colors make them hard to overlook. These social birds can create a racket when they feel so inclined, and their clownish ways are sure to draw attention. Although their large beaks can be intimidating, a well-socialized macaw can be a friendly and affectionate companion.
Macaws are known as the giants of the parrot world. The hyacinth macaw is the longest parrot, with a head to tail length of nearly 40 inches. Macaws have long tail feathers as well as big beaks. Macaw adaptations include large, curved, powerful beaks designed to crack open hard nuts and seeds. These parrots have a long, streamlined physique and colorful feathering, ranging from the hyacinth macaw’s hyacinth blue to the scarlet macaw’s scarlet red coloring. Some macaw species have bare facial patches.
Native Region / Natural Habitat
Macaws inhabit rainforests, as well as grasslands and grassy woodland-type areas. Macaws, and other parrot species, native to the Amazon basin, such as Peru, have been observed eating from clay licks (clay at exposed river bank), which researchers believe is a way for the parrots to neutralize toxins found in some of the foods they consume in the wild.
Care & Feeding
A macaw needs a cage tall enough to prevent its tail feathers from hitting the cage bottom, which can cause the tail feathers to bend or break. Overall, a macaw needs a much larger cage and play stand than other parrot species, so a potential owner should take space considerations into account.
In their natural habitat, macaws feed on native seeds, fruits, flowers, leaves, palm nuts, figs, nectar, and, in some regions, clay from exposed river banks. The dietary needs of some macaw species differ from that of other parrots because they need more fat in their diet. The wild macaw’s diet tends to be high in fat, which is acceptable for a bird that spends its day flying through the rainforest, finding food, nesting, and rearing chicks.
Companion macaws tend to have a much easier life than their wild counterparts, but they miss out on the ability to forage for their food, a behavior that comes naturally.