The Macaw are the largest birds in the parrot family in length and wingspan. Their native habitats are the forests, especially rain forests, of Mexico and Central and South America. A variety of species are available as pets, ranging from the smaller, Red Shouldered Macaw (30cm or nearly 12 inches in length) to the largest, Hyacinthine Macaw (100cm or nearly 40 inches in length).
Macaws eat nuts and fruit. They also gnaw and chew on various objects.
Macaws are very intelligent birds and require a lot of stimulation to satisfy their innate curiosity. This includes providing lots of toys on which they can chew. Deprived of toys, Macaws often become destructive, using their large, strong beaks to chew on their cage and other household items.
These birds can live from 50 up to 65 years or more so acquiring one for a pet is a life-time commitment. The Macaw is a monogamous bird and mates for life. In captivity, unmated macaws will bond primarily with its owner, especially if the owner is willing to spend the time caring and training necessary to keep them healthy and happy. The macaw is a very sociable creature and thrives on frequent interaction, handling and love. Lack of this can lead to the bird's mental and physical suffering. Without daily attention and training, the Macaw may adopt behaviorial problems.
Macaws have an excellent talking ability and tend to be extremely loud, as their voices are designed to carry over long distances. Constant training is required to prevent this magnificent bird from becoming a noisy nuisance.
Most macaws that are subjected to non-aggressive behavior will trust most humans and can be handled even by strangers if someone familiar is also alongside. Because Macaws have very powerful, large beaks, they are capable of causing considerable harm to people. These birds are not suitable as pets for children and should never be left without proper adult supervision.
A hand reared male Macaw from aviary-bred parents makes the best pet.
The majority of Macaws are now endangered in the wild. The greatest threats to the Macaw population are the rapid rate of deforestation and the illegal trapping of birds for the bird trade.
Other Interesting Reading:
Blue & Gold Macaw (breeding) - Geoffrey & Barbara Gould; PPS & Birdworld
Buying a Pet Macaw - Joanne Abramson; Majestic Macaws
The Critical First Six Weeks - Joanne Abramson; Majestic Macaws
Macaws FAQs - Large macaws - at Up At Six
Macaws FAQs - Mini macaws - at Up At Six
Overview of the Severe Macaw (a mini macaw) - June DiCiocco; Hideaway
Preparing for the Bird's Arrival - Joanne Abramson; Majestic Macaws
The Red-Fronted Macaw - M L Simmons, DVM; PCG