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5 Things You Have To Know About Macaws

If you want to have a macaw, you gotta' have the right stuff.

Follow Amanda Lafond on Twitter at @PepperNPals

Watch this baby macaw roll around and play like a puppy.

Chances are, when you think of the word "parrot” you likely picture a macaw. We’ve seen these graceful giants onscreen in films like Pirates of the Caribbean, and they even starred in both Rio movies. They are the largest parrots in aviculture and some of the most colorful. These big birds are a big responsibility and they might not be for everyone, but if you got the right stuff they make excellent companions.

Here’s what you should know:

1) There are 17 different species of macaws. Some are smaller, like the Hahn’s macaw, while some are huge, like the hyacinth macaw. You need to conduct plenty of research into the various species to find which would work best for you.

There are also hybrid macaws, like the Catalina macaw. Hybridization is controversial among aviculturists. One side would prefer that bloodlines remain pure to help conserve endangered species, while the other side enjoys hybrids for their colors and combination of different species traits.
2) Though they have large beaks, macaws are not overly aggressive. Katie Calcasola of The Golden Cockatoo said, "Many people think that because the macaw is a big bird, and have a big beak they are mean. Typically your macaw is a very good pet and can be extremely playful.” This isn’t to say that macaws won’t bite, but often times any nibbling or lunges might be testing the boundaries to see how a stranger reacts.

3) Macaws are definitely not a good choice for a first time bird owner. Not only are these birds large, they are smart and sensitive. "A macaw owner should have experience handling and caring for birds,” Calcasola said. Their high level of intelligence allows macaws to utilize tools in the wild and some can learn to speak. They require plenty of room, attention, and care.

Calcasola said, "A macaw owner must have a lot of space as the macaw needs a large cage and a large playgym to play on outside of the cage.” Lack of these things can lead to a bird with behavioral problems. There are many macaws in rescue shelters that were relinquished by owners not prepared for the task of caring for them.

hyacinth macaw

The hyacinth macaw is the largest macaw, as well as the largest parrot.

4) Macaws can be loud. In the wild, macaws need a call that will carry so they can communicate with their flock. Although this isn’t needed in our homes, it is still there. Calcasola advises a quieter home for a quieter bird. "People with very loud homes may find that a macaw will get louder when there is a lot of chaos and noise in the home.”

She adds that they may not scream as often as cockatoos, and their calls are usually purposeful. "When a macaw makes noise it is usually because he needs something.”

5) Macaws can be messy. From tossing food, to large poops and feathers, to shredding toys, a bigger bird means bigger mess. "All birds can be messy.  People make this issue worse by giving their birds too much food in their bowls.  A bird will eat what they need and the remainder of the food becomes a toy that is thrown to the floor.  Macaws typically love to chew on wood.  This can get messy as the wood chips can scatter about the cage and floor.  As with all birds, I would get used to using a dust buster or broom on a regular basis,” Calcasola said.

Want to know more about macaws?

Top 10 Pet Macaw Parrot Questions Answered
Macaws: 8 Things You Should Know

Meet The Mini Macaws

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Posted: May 29, 2014, 11:15 a.m. PDT

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5 Things You Have To Know About Macaws

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Reader Comments
Awwww! That's just so cute! Not only are macaws so colorful with their feathers. They're big and noisy, too. And that includes, messy.
Cecilia, Brooklyn, NY
Posted: 6/9/2014 5:54:12 PM
Like a lot of other parrots, macaws need your time and attention. These aren't decorations for your home. Macaws need playtime and sometimes want to play rough. Everything that children need macaws need too. Macaws are high strung and like to express themselves. One you have one you can change your Facebook status to "In A Relationship", because you will be.
Charles, Orlando, FL
Posted: 6/3/2014 1:14:56 PM
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