Macaws are vividly colored parrots that are large to medium in size. In decorating the feathers of these strikingly birds, nature surely ran wild in creating such dynamic and beautiful color combinations. These large, muscular birds have strong beaks that do earn them a degree of respect, and all macaw types are highly intelligent. Macaw species include the large Macaws and mini Macaws, and a number of hybrid Macaws have also been produced in captivity.
Though Macaws, especially the large Macaws, have a daunting presence and formidable beaks, they are highly intelligent. These stunning birds show exquisite control, selectively using their powerful beaks with finesse. They are able to interact with their keepers on many levels and quickly learn tricks. Many Macaw species are not only wonderful as pets, but make great show birds. Macaw calls are loud, but for some pet macaws this can transfer nicely into the ability to speak.
Besides being highly intelligent, Macaws have outgoing personalities and are very social. They adapt quickly to their cage and playpen, or aviary, and are quite playful. Their personality is such that they will form a close, loving bond with their keeper, and become a life-long companion. An important question, that is often misconstrued, is how long do Macaws live. Because of their large size it makes sense to think they would be very long lived, but the actual Macaw lifespan is between about 35-60 years in a good environment. They are easily outlived by the large cockatoos, and often by medium sized parrots like the Amazons.
Macaws definitely are among the most colorful and strikingly beautiful birds of the parrot family. Because of their great beauty and engaging personalities, pet Macaws are a favorite among bird lovers. They have been kept as pet birds for centuries. The activities of pet macaws are very animated and comical. Being very intelligent and inquisitive makes macaws relatively easy to train. Combine these two wonderful traits and you have a great show bird!
A bird guide for each Macaw species or Hybrid Macaw is provided for those in the list of Macaws below. Each guide provide in-depth information about living with that pet Macaw and the Macaws behaviours and activities. Macaw information includes housing, care, food, and feeding essentials along with breeding information. Tips are also included for handling and training Macaws.
Macaws as Pets
Macaws can make excellent pets. They have great appeal not only for their striking appearance but because they are playful and loving. They also have a long life span and are very hardy. The macaw calls can be quite loud however, and they do love to chew anything they can get a hold of. All macaws require good socialization and consistent training on an ongoing basis to make good pets.
When choosing a pet bird, the first thing to think about are the types of macaws and determine which ones are suitable to your lifestyle. The size of the macaw and the facility it will require, the cost of obtaining it, and the costs of keeping it are important considerations. Smaller mini macaws, though not quite as vividly colored, take somewhat less space and their associated costs may also be less than for large macaws or hybrid macaws.
Another very important consideration is their conservation status. The number of macaws is increasing due to aviculture, however all species of macaws in the wild are of concern and most are endangered birds. Macaws that are highly endangered birds and not firmly established in captivity, should not be kept individually as pets. Rather these macaws should be paired up for breeding to help ensure the sustainability of these birds into the future. Macaws that are highly endangered are generally quite rare and usually very expensive, and some are simply not available.
Types of Macaws
Macaw types range dramatically in size; with the largest being the Hyacinth Macaw whose wingspan can reach an impressive 42″ to the smallest being the Red-shouldered Macaw, similar in size to some of the larger Aratinga Conures.
All macaws share the same physical characteristics. They all have long tails, slim bodies, and broad heads. Where they differ is in size and the spectacular coloration of their plumage. The naturally occurring macaws consist of the large macaws and the mini macaws. All of these macaws in the wild are endangered birds. There are also hybrid macaws produced in captivity. Hybrid macaws are not endangered birds.
Types of Macaws can be broken into three groups. The first two groups are Large Macaws and Mini Macaws, and these are true Macaw species. The third group is the captive bred Hybrid Macaws. These are Macaws developed by crossing two different Macaw species to create first generation F 1 Macaw Hybrids, or further crossings to develop second generations F 2, or further generations of hybrids. To learn more about each of these groups and to identify particular species or hybrids, look at the large macaws, mini macaws, or hybrid macaws articles.
There are 11 living species (and several subspecies) in what are considered the Large Macaw. The Cuban MacawAra tricolor, also known as the Hispaniolan Macaw, is not included here as it is considered to now be extinct. These are;
- Blue and Gold Macaw
- Blue-throated Macaw
- Buffon’s Macaw
- Glaucous Macaw
- Green-winged Macaw
- Hyacinth Macaw
- Lear’s Macaw or Blue Macaw
- Military Macaw
- Red-fronted Macaw
- Scarlet Macaw
- Spix’s Macaw
There are six small macaw species in what is considered the Mini Macaw group, These are generally macaws who’s totally length does not exceed 20″ (50 cm). These are;
- Blue-headed Macaw
- Illiger’s Macaw
- Severe Macaw
- Red-bellied Macaw
- Red-shouldered Macaw (Subspecies include: Hahn’s, Noble, Long-winged)
- Yellow-collared Macaw
Macaw hybrids, crosses of different macaws, are produced for their amazing coloring. See the Hybrid Macaw Parrotsinformation, for pictures of the different types of hybrids to aid in identification, and to learn which breeding combination makes up each of these.There are currently 35+ different types of hybrid macaws. Following is the approximate number of hybrids we are currently aware of in each generation of crosses:
First generation F 1 hybrid macaws: 15
Second generation F 2 hybrid macaws: 16
Third generation F 3 (or more) hybrid macaws: 5