Everything You Need to Know About Macaws

Posted by Tori Holmes

Looking for a bird that is as colorful as a rainbow? Here is everything you need to know about macaws.

Originating in South America, Central America, and Mexico, there are 17 different breeds of macaws in the world today. Some of the most popular breeds to keep as pets include the blue and gold macaw, the scarlet macaw, the military macaw, and the hyacinth macaw.

Compared to other parrot breeds, macaws display much more even temperaments. This could be due to the fact that they are a larger breed and do not feel as threatened by small disturbances.

These beautiful birds may be even-tempered but that doesn't mean that they don't have a wild side to them. They are naturally curious and love to explore and play with their environment. Some macaws are even known to have a bit of a sense of humor, playing small practical jokes to get a reaction from their owners.

Macaws are social creatures and need plenty of time outside their cages each day. If they receive insufficient human attention, they can start to display destructive and loud behavior. They also require constant supervision, as they love to chew paper and wood items, such as furniture and books.

When they are comfortable with you, macaws can be as affectionate as cockatoos. However, this affection is limited to a select few they know and trust and is not given to strangers.

Macaws are not recommended for apartments or attached housing, as they are very vocal birds that love to sing. On any given day, you can expect macaws to squawk and sing several times a day for five to ten minutes at a time. This behavior is natural and it is recommended to not try and discourage it, as it generally causes it to increase.

Due to their size, noise level, and high-need nature, macaws are recommended for experienced bird owners only. Macaws can live anywhere between 30 to 50 years of age and older, depending on the breed.

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Between the 17 different breeds of macaws, there is a large span of size and weight. The smallest macaw, the red-shouldered macaw, reaches an adult height of only 12 inches, whereas the largest macaw, the hyacinth macaw, reaches an adult height of 40 inches. Depending on the breed, an adult macaw can weigh anywhere between 165 grams to 1450 grams.

They have proportionately large beaks and distinctive long tail feathers.


While each breed has their own distinct color combination, macaws have a relatively bare, light-colored facial patch that distinguishes them from other parrots. The size of the facial patch varies between breeds, sometimes limited to a small patch around the eye and a second around the beak, and other times covering a large portion of the face. These facial feathers are as unique as a fingerprint, with no two exactly the same.


Macaws have more even tempers than their parrot cousins. They are highly social and can be quiet affectionate with those they know well. If they do not receive adequate social interaction they can begin to display loud and destructive behaviors. 


Macaws are susceptible to Aspergillosis, a fungal infection caused by molds. It is often a result of poor cage hygiene or food storage. Macaws with Aspergillosis display labored breathing and rasping. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Macaws