Natural history

Macaw Sound

Macaws are found in a variety of habitats throughout large areas of the Amazon Basin, such as gallery forests and mangrove swamps.  Most macaws are listed on Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix I, however the blue and gold, green-winged, Hahn’s, noble, red-bellied, severe and yellow-collared macaws are listed on CITES Appendix II. Appendix I species are threatened with extinction globally, and commercial trade is prohibited and importation/exportation for scientific research requires special permits. Appendix II species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless their trade is strictly regulated.

  • Macaws are frugivores, granivores, and/or florivores. Free-ranging birds feed on seeds, fruit, figs, palm nuts, leaves, nectar, and/or flowers.
  • Some macaws need more fat in their diet. Hyacinth macaws consume only palm nuts in the wild.
  • Since psittacine birds hull seeds before ingestion, they do not require grit. In fact, some individuals will overeat grit when ill putting the bird at risk for impaction.
  • All-seed diets are deficient in protein, vitamins, and minerals including calcium and vitamin A.
  • Most of the large macaws are considered gentle birds, however all large macaws can be quite noisy and destructive.
  • The scarlet macaw has a reputation for a particularly strong personality making them a difficult pet for inexperienced owners.
  • All macaws are extremely intelligent that require a lot of stimulation.
  • Feather destructive behavior may be more common in some of the mini macaw species.
  • Most macaw species have a bare facial area, which can flush pink indicating a change in mood.
  • Foraging is an important part of normal daily parrot activity. Teach and encourage pet birds to play and forage.
Most Common disorders of Macaws 
  • Aggression
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Feather picking and feather cysts
  • Oral and cloacal papillomatosis
  • Mutilation syndrome
  • Chlamydiosis Proventricular dilatation disease
  • Bacterial and viral infections
  • Drug sensitivities
  • Allergies Sunken eye
  • sinusitis
  • Toe deformities in young macaws
  • Acne (ingrown facial feathers)
  • Respiratory infections
  • Malcolored feathers



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