Natural Distribution: Low land forests of South and Central America
Latin Name : Ara macao
Noise Level: Loud, screechers, talkers, singers
Talking Ability: High
Life Expectancy: 60+ years
Available in Australia? Yes – But expensive and limited supply, expect to pay over $7500
Suited To: Professionals or super dedicated bird owners
The Scarlet Macaw is one of the larger species of Macaw native to South and Central America. Prior to the ban on importation of foreign parrot species into Australia small numbers had been brought into Australia for breeding so they are available here however they are very rare and expensive.
The Scarlet Macaw is an incredibly impressive parrot standing almost a metre from the tip of its tail to the top of its head though much of this is made up of tail. They are mostly covered in scarlet coloured feathers thus their name however they have blue feathers on the rump and tail covert and yellow feathers on their great upper wing coverts. The upper side of their flight feathers are a dark blue whilst the underside of their wings and tail feathers are dark red with a metallic gold iridescence. Individuals with some green in their wings have been seen.
There have white skin around the eye and down to their bills and then white feathers on the face. They have a two coloured beak with the upper mandible predominantly fawn coloured – the lower mandible is black. Juveniles have the same colouring as adults the only noticeable difference is adults have light yellow eyes whilst juveniles eyes are dark.
The owners of the breed talk about the joys and difficulties in keeping them as pets. They are a very good pet for those willing to give them a great deal of time as they are gentle kind and affectionate. They are also very sensitive and prone to fits of jealousy and tantrums. There are several owner accounts on the net people owning a Scarlet Macaw that became very demanding and sulky when their owners had children and were not able to shower their Macaw with their undivided attention.
As a companion birds to someone without children they can certainly be wonderful but expect their behaviour to be much like a demanding two your old. Whilst it might be easier sometimes to reward bad behaviour in order to calm an agitated Scarlet Macaw – doing so may well do doom you to a lifetime of pandering to your spoilt parrot.
A parrot of this size is not really suited to an indoor cage of any size. If you do intend to keep them inside should consider a cage of at least a metre and a half in all dimensions. Smaller than that and they will not be able to adequately stretch and flap their wings in their cage. Even with a cage of this size they’ll need to be allowed out of the cage for much of the day.
To limit the amount of chewing of your furniture and valuables when they are outside their cage its a good idea to set up Macaw friendly bird perches around your house with a variety of Toys to entertain them. A multiple series of perches with a wire ladder connecting them and different toys at different heights is ideal.
Your cage should be made of the sturdiest possible materials as Scarlet macaws have incredibly strong beaks and have been known to chew through metal cages given enough time. They need a great many toys, perches and climbing ladders to keep them entertained and to distract them from destroying the cage.
It is a better option if you live in a warm environment to keep them in an outdoor Avery 3 m high to a half metres wide and 6 m long. I appreciate this is getting closer to a commercial sized Avery for such a bird and fitting one into the average yard will not be a simple task. If housing outside ensure they can escape inclement weather the cold, hot or rain. Be aware that Australian pythons are bird eaters and have been known to take birds from outdoor aviaries at night.
Feeding your Macaw
Your feeding dishes will need to be incredibly strong preferably stainless steel as your Scarlet Macaw will destroy plastic food and water containers. Your local pet shop may not have large Macaw formulated birdseed in stock at any given time as they are rarely kept as pets so certainly find this out for before acquiring a bird and find a suitable source. Scarlet macaws have very specific nutritional requirements with high calcium and mineral needs to be sure not to try feeding them on basic parrot mix.
In addition to giving them a formulated feed they require a mix of green and orange vegetables and fruits grains and seeds. As with all parrots avoid giving them avocado as it is toxic to them.
Extra protein as well as trace vitamin and minerals can be obtained by feeding your Macaw sprouted legumes.
Care and Grooming
In the wild your Scarlet Macaw will bathe itself daily so in captivity you need to simulate this by giving them access to clean water to bathe in or otherwise spraying them with a water bottle or a hose with a fine spray. Ensure they are able to drive themselves quickly after such shower today get cold.
Large birds make a large mess in their cage with lots of poo, discarded sticks and vegetable matter from chewing et cetera. The cage is to be cleaned frequently to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus in this matter that will cause your Macaw become sick or die.
As they are so expensive it may be worth clipping their wings to prevent an accidental escape. Clip the wings evenly on both sides clipping most of the primary feathers all the way to the wing on both sides. If you leave a few of these feathers they will be to glide safely from height but not flying away.
assuming you provide lots of chew toys in the form of sticks etc for your Scarlet Macaw Debbie should need little attention if it becomes overgrown or misshapen may need to be trimmed by your vet. Your local pet shop should be to provide chew toys or blocks that will help your Scarlet Macaw keep its beak in tiptop condition.
the easiest way to ensure claws don’t become overgrown is to place a mix of both would and concrete purchase in your Macaw’s cage so that can grip easily into the wooden perches that where down their nails on the concrete ones. If they do become overgrown they will need to be trimmed.
Breeding Scarlet Macaws
To become a breeder of Scarlet macaws in Australia is most difficult prospect indeed. As you cannot import a breeding pair from South America you will need to find a breeder prepared to let you buy to breeding quality birds. Not only will this be very expensive, amid two birds will not provide enough genetic diversity to start a breeding program in any case. Assuming you are able to find a source of recall the Scarlet macaws Ashley breeding them is quite difficult.
Firstly, you need to determine that you have a male and female and since Scarlet macaws are impossible to sex by appearance in colour this needs to be done by DNA testing.
Secondly, the macaws themselves need to be bonded with each other and enjoy each other’s company. In the wild they select a mate and there is no guarantee in captivity that a male and female forced upon each other will bond and breed. Indeed one may already be bonded with its human owner.
Thirdly as large parrots the breeding box they need is massive, and around 1.2 m in height and 40 cm in width and depth. It needs to be kept as high as possible in the outdoor aviary and you should ensure that a rope ladders leading to the entrance to their need not jump to the ground.
Fourthly, if you do manage to successfully breed a pair of Scarlet macaws it is very difficult to hand raise the babies and macaws are not hand raised will be be far less valuable prospects as pets down the track.
We recommend you only consider trying to breed Scarlet macaws if you are a professional aviary keeper.
Scarlet Macaw health
Though generally incredibly healthy birds that are not immune to illness. More likely you will see them suffer some kind of mental distress as emotions of jealousy, boredom or frustration are displayed through bad behavior and self-mutilation such as feather picking.
They can catch different bacterial and viral fungal diseases from faeces or rotting vegetable matter in their cage so it is very important to keep this claim at all times.
Keep an eye on your Scarlet macaws behaviour is in physical appearance at all times. You may be old to teach your Scarlet Macaw to say many words it is unlikely to say “I don’t feel so well please take me to the vet” so you will need to watch for the signs yourself and seek the assistance of the vet if you spot something out of the ordinary.
Signs include ruffling of plumage, general malaise, a lack of appetite, any obvious irritation or swelling of the eyes or face, faeces on the feathers or a change in faeces on the floor of their cage, or any other signs of obvious distress such as difficulty breathing and listlessness.
As the birds are very expensive and a lot of work to care for people tend to purchase one rather than two. This is generally a mistake even if you don’t plan to breed them as lack of interaction with other birds can lead to loneliness and mental distress for the birds as well a sexual frustration resulting in an unhappy and sick bird with a reduced immune system. A lonely Macaw orphans scream to try attract the attention of other birds to Macaw by itself is likely to be noisy bird.
Suitability as a Pet
Scarlet macaws are very large parrots require lots of attention, as much or more attention than a two-year-old child and in many ways they have similar temperaments. They require a large cage a large flight area and most often will live longer than their owners if bought as a young bird.
As a result is highly recommended they only be kept by professional aviary owners. If you feel that you have the desire and passion to care for one of these birds understanding their highly demanding natures and long lifespans than they certainly can be wonderful parrots to own.