Macaws

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Filed in Birds, Getting a New Bird

If you consider yourself a full-fledged bird person and want something big, loud and beautiful for your home, a Macaw might be a good choice for you.

Macaws are large, colorful birds whose intelligence and vocal abilities make them one of the most impressive of the parrot species. Their personalities can be inquisitive, flamboyant, humorous and yes, mischevious. Macaws can sing entire songs, dance to music, be trained to do tricks, and even become potty trained. Because of their endearing, attentive nature, Macaws will truly become a part of your family.

Concerns

With all these lovable, enjoyable traits comes the challenges of owning a Macaw. These birds can be extremely boisterous. If you have size or sound concerns, you might think twice before investing in one. With a life span of over 50 years, owning a Macaw could become a life-long commitment.

Make sure to consult breeders or other Macaw owners before a purchase. There are several breeds of Macaws, along with hybrids and Mini Macaws. Each has his own characteristics individual to his species. For example, a Hyacinth Macaw is a large, beautiful bird who has a very specialized diet. A Red Front Macaw is less prone to screech attacks and is amiable in nature.

Size Says it All

Before you purchase your bird, be sure to spend time with him. Make sure you're comfortable with his size and demeanor. You can't be nervous about letting this large bird climb up your arm. Will you be comfortable disciplining a bird who is larger than your first apartment?

Macaws can reach up to three and half feet tall with a wingspan of up to four feet wide. Their beaks are vise-like and their personalities strong, if not somewhat intimidating. As with all pets, Macaws need a strong hand and a lot of patience.

Some breeders suggest keeping the bird's cage below your eye level to help convince him that you've got the upper hand. As for training, it's crucial to always be consistent. Bad habits will be difficult to break once a pattern is set. Spend time with your bird throughout the day. Listen and watch him to make sure his needs are being met. Excessive screaming, feather plucking or aggression towards you or others can be a good sign your Macaw is lonely or feels threatened.

Your Macaw should have time away from his cage every day. Providing him with a play station, rope swings and a "parrot puzzle," will help keep him stimulated and content. Purchase a cage that is at least three-foot by five foot, but as always, provide the largest cage possible. Untreated lumber chunks, a rope knot and cuttlebone will help to satisfy chewing urges.

Mini-Macaws

If you've researched various Macaws and decide you just don't have the budget, time or space, take heart. Mini Macaws are smaller, less expensive and quieter than larger Macaws. These birds stand at 11 to 20 inches tall. Mini Macaws are humorous, playful birds who bond well with their owners. They are smart and enthusiastic talkers; almost literally, a shrunken down version of the larger Macaw.

Macaws eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. They also enjoy, eggs, toast and some pasta. Nuts and seeds, along with a formulated Macaw pellet formula should round out his diet. An of course, provide a lot of fresh water.

Summary
  • Macaws are large vocal birds. Make sure you have the time, space and budget for one.
  • Consult with breeders to find which Macaw is right for you.
  • Get comfortable with your bird's size before you bring him home.
  • Purchase a large cage with a play station and toys.
  • Interact with your Macaw and be aware of his needs.

Sierra Alvis is a freelance writer who lives in San Francisco with her Macaw, Hawkins and Huckle the cat.

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