Macaw Care Sheet
A macaw can be a lifetime friend, with life expectancies that can stretch nearly as long as a human’s! Thinking about making a macaw a member of your family, or have a new feathered friend already? Read on for some general tips and information about these fascinating birds.
Large parrots, like other pet birds, need a diet with quality ingredients and balanced levels of important vitamins, minerals and amino acids to maintain good health. The best diet for any exotic pet bird is a commercial diet that consists of high-quality extruded nuggets which should make up 80% of what the parrot eats every day. Many birds eat only seeds, but seed diets can contain high levels of fat and are deficient in important nutrients. An all-seed diet can lead to obesity and other nutritionally related diseases. The health benefits are worth converting from an all-seed diet to a more nutritious diet.
Although most fruits and vegetables are considered healthy additions to a bird’s diet, they should not make up more than 10%-15% of the daily diet. Some are high in sugar and carbohydrates, some lack important nutrients, and because they add bulk and fiber, the bird will feel satisfied and not eat the more nutritious commercial diet. Feeding seeds as treats can be a part of an overall nutritious diet, but again, make sure they do not make up more than 10%-15% of the total daily diet.
A high-quality commercial extruded diet contains balanced levels of important vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Additional supplements are not required and could be harmful to the bird. Many seed products have a vitamin and mineral coating on the hulls, and when birds eat the seed, they discard the hulls and the nutrients end up as waste. If supplements are added to the bird’s water, they may be discarded when the water is changed.
Parrots need a cage in which they can easily flap their wings. The bigger the cage, the better for the bird. Parrots should be kept in cages that have thick metal bars to handle a parrot’s incredible chewing ability. Luckily, there are many colors and styles to choose from and can be matched to the area that it will be placed. One feed cup and one water cup are necessary with the cage along with perches and a tray on the bottom. Bird litter is best to use in the tray, and never use colored newspaper, cedar shavings, or corncob bedding.
Make sure the bird has access to fresh, clean water. Scrub the water dish daily with a light dishwashing detergent and rinse well. Make sure the bird always has food in his cup, but do not leave moistened food in the cup for long periods of time, especially in warm weather. The tray should be cleaned at least once a week (or more often depending on cage size). Perches should be cleaned (washed if plastic or made of a synthetic material, scraped if wooden) once a week or as needed. At least once a month, clean out the cage completely by washing the bars, base, tray, and all toys and accessories made of plastic or metal thoroughly.
Most parrots rarely need beak trims, but owners should keep an eye on the bill just in case. If the bill needs to be trimmed, make an appointment with an avian veterinarian. Parrots can be offered special perches made out of a material that can help keep the nails short, and the bill is usually kept trimmed by the bird chewing on a beak conditioner and wooden objects. Wings need to be trimmed every 4-6 months or the bird will be able to fly. For bathing, lightly mist your pet with a plant mister only in the morning at least three times a week.
With the proper nutrition, parrots are generally very hardy and large parrots can live anywhere from 35-70 years! Although vaccinations are not required at this time, parrots should be checked by a veterinarian every year for any underlying medical conditions, or if they show any signs of illness such as lethargy, odd discharges, a change in their feces, or lack of appetite. Their cage should be kept in a draft-free area away from vents, windows, or doors.