What Should I Consider before I Buy a Macaw?

Paul Cartmell
Paul Cartmell

Before a person decides to buy a macaw, he or she should consider the commitment to caring for and living alongside this member of the parrot family for a long period of the human's lifespan. Other considerations include the determination of the correct amount of space to ensure that the macaw is safely housed within the human environment and the appropriate toys and stimulating objects for the bird. The macaw is a social member of the parrot family requiring daily interaction with the person caring for the bird and other humans.

Before you buy a macaw, be sure that you are prepared for the commitment required in caring for the macaw. The lifespan of a macaw that is cared for properly can be over 40 years, meaning a bond is often formed between the bird and owner that lasts for the majority of the owner's life. Each macaw also requires a large amount of time taken each day by the owner for maintaining the health of the bird and providing enough social time to interact with its owner.

Space is one of the major considerations for people deciding whether they should buy a macaw. Each macaw can grow to a length of between 33 and 37 inches (83 to 94 centimeters) requiring a large cage and space for a perch outside of the cage. Small baby macaws require a large cage of at least 24 by 36 inches (60 by 92 centimeters) to provide space for the bird to grow comfortably in the cage. Outside of the cage, daily exercise is needed, with the bird owner needing space for a perch large enough for the fully-grown macaw to be positioned.

Wild macaws often live in flocks of between 10 and 30 birds with whom the birds communicate through loud squawks and screams. When you buy a macaw, you should know that each day, a caged macaw must be given time to fly and perch freely outside the cage to ensure both the physical and mental health of the bird. Consideration must be taken concerning the possible noise of a macaw communicating with its owner through loud screams at various times during the day that may be disruptive to other family members and neighbors.

Caring for a macaw can also be time-consuming and expensive, with the bird requiring pellet feed as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Macaws require a large variety of fruits and vegetables to maintain health and to ensure that they receive the correct amount of minerals and vitamins. A healthy diet should include foods such as grapes, broccoli, and seeds.

Heavy-duty cages should be used with pet macaws because of the strong beak and tongue of the bird capable of breaking apart the shells of nuts and seeds. Toys and objects to stimulate the brain are also required that should be made of leather, strong woods, or heavy-duty metal because the bird can destroy toys that are not robust. Household environments are usually easy for the macaw to adapt to when the temperature is kept as constant as possible.

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Discussion Comments


@Scrbblechick -- I'm glad your friend has such a good environment for her macaw. Many birds aren't that lucky. A macaw, frankly, is just too much bird for most people. They're not as demanding as cockatoos, but they are big, messy, loud birds.

They can be very sweet, but as the article notes, and as your friend has discovered, the more they can be outside their cages, the happier they are. I'm glad she has an enclosed area where Kiwi can fly free in safety.

All parrots require some specialized care, but the really big ones, like macaws, need a lot of stimulation, attention and the right food to live truly happy lives.


A friend of mine who lives near Joshua Tree, California, has a blue and gold macaw. Kiwi has been well socialized and is a really sweet bird, but my friend doesn't have any near neighbors, so a screaming bird is not a problem. She can also allow Kiwi outside in her covered, screened-in patio area, so the bird doesn't go nuts. She feeds her all sorts of things, and every time I've seen Kiwi, she looks the picture of health. Maybe the desert air agrees with her. Kiwi is bright-eyed and her feathers always look like they're in good shape.

My friend says she's not difficult to care for. She just feeds her a varied diet and she gets a lot of out-of-cage time.

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