At 50, macaws have a considerably long lifespan for an avian species. These colorful birds are native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. They are closely associated with these forests, such that it is virtually impossible to come across a TV documentary showcasing the native wildlife without including these magnificent birds.
Loss of habitat as a result of heavy deforestation and incessant poaching has brought several macaw species to the verge of extinction. While species like the Spix's macaw and Blue-throated macaw are battling extinction―and are currently considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), others like the Cuban macaw and Saint Croix macaw have already become extinct. Although not endangered, species like the Military macaw and Blue-headed macaw are enlisted as vulnerable species by the IUCN.
Macaws: A Fascinating Species in Itself
A quintessential family bird species, macaws mate for life and raise families together. The males gather food for the family, while the females stay back and look after the young ones. On an average the macaw size can vary from 30 cm to 85 cm; the hyacinth macaw though, has a wingspan of 4 feet.
Their diet consists of nuts, flowers, fruits, leaves, seeds, small insects, etc. Some macaw species are known to forage areas where cattle roam and eat nuts that pass through the cattle's digestive system. They even feed on clay found on the banks of the rivers in their native habitat. Macaws have a strong beak, which they use to break open nuts with utmost ease.
Macaws are also known to be very loud―one of the loudest birds of the rainforest. They make unique noises to communicate with each other. This is important as they live in flocks consisting of 15 - 30 birds. They also make loud squawking noise to mark their territory. Some macaw species can imitate humans, which―but obviously―adds to their popularity as pets.
Here is a list of the extant macaw species:
- Blue-and-yellow macaw (Ara ararauna)
- Blue-headed macaw (Primolius couloni)
- Blue-throated macaw (Ara glaucogularis)
- Blue-winged macaw (Primolius maracana)
- Chestnut-fronted macaw (Ara severa)
- Glaucous macaw (Anodorhynchus glaucus)
- Golden-collared macaw (Primolius auricollis)
- Great green macaw (Ara ambiguus)
- Green-winged macaw (Ara chloropterus)
- Hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)
- Indigo macaw (Anodorhynchus leari)
- Spix's macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii)
- Military macaw (Ara militaris)
- Red-bellied macaw (Orthopsittaca manilata)
- Red-fronted macaw (Ara rubrogenys)
- Red-shouldered macaw (Diopsittaca nobilis)
- Scarlet macaw (Ara macao)
Macaws as Pets
Macaws can be easily trained to mimic humans. Being intelligent and highly energetic, they can be taught tricks as well. These birds need constant stimulation, so if you want to keep them as pets, you will have to get them some toys. They are very noisy birds; not a suitable choice if you happen to live in an apartment. In an urban setting, their shrieks can be mistaken for human distress calls. You will have your neighbors dialing 911 all the time. Macaws are naturally inclined to pluck and they can inflict nasty wounds if not handled properly. Their beaks are strong enough to break your fingers.
One of the most interesting facts is that they bond very strongly with their owners. So, if you are willing to reciprocate with lots of care and attention, you can definitely keep them as pets. In fact, the blue and gold macaw is one of the most popular pet birds in America. At 33 inches from head to tail, it is fairly large, and yet, there is no dearth of people willing to keep it as a pet.