Not a day goes by that we don’t get a call at the Birdie boutique beginning with “hi I have a Macaw” which for us always begs the question “what kind of Macaw”? Granted the majority of Macaw calls that we get are for the larger variety of Macaw’s, but the Mini Macaws are great birds and their popularity is growing.
The counterpoint this produces is highlighted in the range of Macaws. The largest Macaws are Hyacinths which can be as long as 44 inches and can weigh as much as 5 pounds. Conversely a Hahns Macaw (the smallest is typically 12 to 14 inches long and only weighs about 150 gm or about 5 ounces.
To those not totally indoctrinated to birds, it may seem odd that we specialize in just bird supplies, why not be a generalist in pet supplies? Birds are just another category of pets, right?
To answer the latter first – we are starting to deploy supplies for dogs, cats and small animals. Think of it is a hobby of ours that we will be expanding ever so slowly in the coming months. In answer, the primary question, exotic birds as pets is an enormously broad category that covers more than 700 species of animals with an abundance of unique housing and nutritional needs. I don’t want to overstate the importance of our jobs but we try to help you make the artificial environments that you provide for birds as comfortable as we can because of the much different environment than they instinctually expect – Huh?
More simply stated, when your bird is born and then matures, it’s instinctual expectations grow to get up at the crack of dawn, fly dozens of miles in search of food and hang out with lots of other birds that look and sound just like them. What they get is a great deal of time spent usually less than 10 square feet with time out of the cage to socialize and interact with two-legged animals that don’t even have wings – tough gig.
So we try to be very specific in identifying the needs of each and every species. The Mini Macaws come in six flavors.
Severe Macaw, Yellow-collared Macaw, Illiger’s Macaw, Blue-headed Macaw, Red-bellied Macaw and Hahn’s Macaw
Let’s start with the smallest of the group the Hahn’s Macaw – Although the Noble Macaw is closely related to the Hahn’s Macaw they are both two distinct subspecies of the Red-shoulder Macaw. Hahn’s Macaws are approximately 12 inches long, have long narrow tales and large heads.
Basically green with darker green-blue feathers on the foreheads and a splash of bright red under their wings. Their feet and beaks are black and are easy to pick out as a Macaw because of the bare eye rings around their face.
With the lifespan of 30 or more years these small parrots make great pets. They are easy-going, social and intelligent. They can be trained quite easily and tend to form close bonds with their owners.
The Red-belly Macaw can usually be found in Amazonian South America from Columbia to Trinidad, south to Peru, Bolivia, and central Brazil. We generally don’t see a lot of these birds in captivity. On the average, they weigh about 300 gm (about 10 ounces) and are about 18 inches in length including their long tail.
They are notable for their cere and most of their face is covered with a bare like yellow skin and a bluish feathered forehead. Young birds have are duller in color than adults and have gray beaks with a white racing stripe down the center of the beak. (Spix’s Macaws are the only other Macaws that have similar white stripes on youngsters beaks)
Red-bellies tend to be shy but can mimic sounds with a childlike voice. These birds can easily get fat on a limited diet. They may bond closely to a single individual so if you do have one as a pet is important that they are socialized with other humans in order to keep them friendly.
They like to chew and unless their beak is kept quite busy it can easily get overgrown. Hardwood bird toys should be primarily represented in their birdcage repertoire of toys. Nutritionally they have a vitamin-A sensitivity
Blue-headed Macaws ( a.k.a. Coulon’s Macaws) hangout in eastern Peru, parts of Bolivia and Brazil. These Mini Macaws are about 2 feet long, generally have green feathers in the upper tail, narrow green down the center ending in a blue tip. Their beaks are pale green with a black base and they have a slightly visible eye-ring. Although most Macaws have light color faces, the Blue-headed Macaw has a dark face.
Because they are rare, you usually do not see them as pets. They are on the CITES list which is an endangered species list. You can easily find them living in small groups of two or three and are usually only seen in flight in the wild.
Illiger Macaws (a.k.a. Blue-wing Macaws) are anywhere from 15 to 17 inches long from beak to the end of the tail and can live for 40 or 50 years. They enjoy being with people and can be quite playful. This is why they make great pets. They are very smart and respond well to training. So smart that you really need to devote a lot of time to this breed.
They are basically bright green with a notable splash of red on their foreheads. From the neck to the top of their head feathers, is a lovely iridescent blue. Their orange eyes are accented by the typical bare skin facial patches that identify most Macaws. It is possible to identify the males vs. females as males usually have a smidge more red color overall in their feathers than the females.
Illiger Macaws require more fat in their diet the most other Macaws species so it’s okay to feed them high-quality seeds along with whatever other foods you use introduce protein. They tend to mirror your moods so if you are agitated they can easily get agitated. They socialize well and get along with other birds easily and enjoy the company of the flock or of a mate and will probably be much happier kept as a pair.
Golden-collared Macaws a.k.a. Yellow-collared Macaws come from central South America. They are about 15 inches long overall with beautiful green feathers and a distinct patch of yellow giving them their name. The yellow collar develops and gets brighter as a bird gets older. The birds face is a light bare skin around it’s eyes typical of Macaws. They can live 50 years or more.
Like most Macaws they are affectionate, highly intelligent and very resourceful. This is especially true when trying to keep them inside of their cage because they can be Houdini’s. They offer a large Macaw personality in a Small Macaw’s body. We would not classify them as noisy per se but they are able to be quite loud. If you are in an apartment, this bird should not be on your list of potential pet birds.
They have the ability to be great talkers and many owners swear that they speak with better clarity than many other species. They respond well to training and if you work with them consistently you can have a great companion bird.
Severe Macaws a.k.a. Chestnut-fronted Macaw is probably one of the largest of the Mini-Macaws coming in at about 18 inches long. They are primarily green with bright patches of red and blue on the wings. The black beak stands out below the chestnut-brown patch on their forehead and is surrounded by a white patch that continues around the eyes, a signature Macaw trait.
It’s said their name comes from being quite aggressive starting at puberty. The aggressiveness can be held in check with a great deal of training and interaction. They have a life span of 30 years or more and have a great personality allowing them to bond with their owners and have a propensity for impressive speech. They also like to be petted which is more than can be said about all of the Macaw species.
When it comes to eating they’re not all that finicky. It’s said that Severe Macaws are the best talkers out of all of the Macaws which means they can also be quite noisy, just like a Macaw.
2007.05.24 Smart birds may sing, but bad birds bark