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Scarlet Macaw Parrot

Scarlet Macaw ( Ara macao ) is a most adorable member of the parrot family, and certainly the most colorful. Its brilliance and dominant ch...

They are attention seekers and smart birds.

Scarlet Macaw is Honduras National Bird

They do not reproduce until their young ones are mature enough to feed themselves and leave the nest

People keep them as pets because of their playful and mimicing nature

Macaw is a Sassy bird, with full of energy and personality

Scarlet Macaw Parrot

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is a most adorable member of the parrot family, and certainly the most colorful. Its brilliance and dominant character make it one of the most popular large species parrots as a pet. Scarlet macaw parrot require a serious commitment and are wonderful life long companions as their life expectancy may reach up to 80 years in captivity.

Scarlet Macaw can be distinguished in to two sub species - Ara macao cyanoptera and Ara macao macao. The most common type found in Southwestern United States is Mexican Scarlet, these are not generally huge and weight around 907 grams while on the other hand Central American (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama) and South American (including eastern Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Belize, Ecuador, Guatemala and Amazonian Peru) Scarlet weight around 1040 to 1160 grams for females and 1190 to 1560 grams for males. They are normally (32 inches) long with almost half of that length made by their pointed tail with a wingspan of more than 3 feet.

scarlet macaw sitting on food bowl

These are large birds with three different main color bands on their feathers, Scarlet on their head and shoulder, Yellow on their back and Blue on their tail and wing tips. They have white hues on their face, their bill is also white which is turned downwards. They have light yellow eyes, black colored feet and legs and a long pointed tail. Their feet are quite flexible that are used for holding food, branches and other items. Right foot assure the body stability while left foot is used for handling and feeding. Their genome shows their level of smartness. They are most affectionate and having intelligence level of up to 8 years old child and emotional sensitivity of a 2 year old. They are also able to perform simple math problems.

They can live alone as well as in large flocks. They seem to do well as a pet as long as their basic requirements are met. This type of birds should not be kept alone as they are social birds, so its a nice idea to have them in pairs so, they have companion all the time. You need to be careful as these birds can bite fingers if entered into the cage.

scarlet macaw flying

Scarlet macaws can fly at speed up to 56 km per hour and elevate from about 1,000 to 3,000 feet.
In some areas they are seen flying in flocks of up to 50 unrelated individuals.


This specie is threatened with extinction and its trade should be monitored carefully. Humans are macaws greatest threat as, through poaching and habitat destruction. Deforestation is also one of the main causes to decrease their number by  damaging their habitat. Raptors, such as hawks, falcons and eagles, pose a high threat to macaws specially when they leave their nest. Forest falcon is the greatest threat to young macaws, as it would steal immature and emergent bird from their nests.
They sometimes fall prey to large cats and jaguars. To escape from these animals macaws build their nests more than 100 feet from the ground. So here again deforestation can limit their nesting habitat. Monkeys, snakes and toucans are also seen feeding on their immature babies and stealing their eggs. Adult birds are not at risk from monkeys, snakes, etc as they can fly to safe place, only their fledgling and eggs are at risk.

Diet and Nutrition

These omnivorous birds diet consists of nuts, seeds, fruits and leaves. Macaws are seed predators,
they destroy the seeds that they eat and do not scatter them. As they have big bills so they eat fruits having harder texture that are difficult to eat for other creatures, So as a source of eliminating feeding competition, macaws focus on eating these fruits. Wild macaws love to eat fruits from jabillo tree, licuri palm tree and jocote trees.

different mixed nuts placed on table

They also love to eat insects and larvae.They are seen feeding heavily on bugs, snails and foliage. Snails and bugs are great source of protein, as they need additional protein during breeding seasons.
They also add flowers and nectar to their diet as a supplement.

macaws feeding on clay

Some macaws are even seen eating clay from river banks. By feeding on clay they are able to consume unripe and poisonous food which other birds can't. They sometimes  take in chemicals but thanks to clay which is believed to neutralize these harmful effects of chemicals.

Diet as pet :

Avian experts forces the importance of diversity in food for your scarlet macaw. Their natural eating habit would motivate them and push them to look for the collection of different tastes and varieties if they were in wild. So if you give them different variety in food items it will keep them healthy and very happy. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are their favorite supplements as well as almonds and pine seeds. As a pet they require basic dietary element like fresh products, whole grain, commercial macaw pellets etc. Pellets are bulk of their diet. Some of them are often very meticulous, and may be choosy in terms of selecting and liking a specific food item.

bird pellets

Some veggies and fruits include carrot, apple, pear, zucchini, cucumbers, grapes, papaya, mango, tomatoes, bananas and broccoli. It is not necessary to peel most fruits and vegetables. Avoid fruits of  high acid content like grapefruits, lemons or oranges. Sprouted seeds are a best choice as a supplemental treat as they provide your macaw with a number of vitamins like A,B,C and E and are source of enzymes too.

sprouted seeds

Only offer that food to your macaw that veterinarian has confirmed as safe and suitable.

Make sure that fresh water is available all the time for Your macaw to keep him hydrated. Refresh and clean the water bowl on a daily basis. stainless steel bowl is a best option as they do not leach chemicals when exposed to sun (heat).

stainless steel bowls

Behavior and Body language


This colorful, sassy and magnificent bird is well known for its regular calls and sounds. Their pitch may vary as low, medium or high. They have many shrill noises, screaming, and yelling that aid them in communication. They squeak to give warnings, and to keep their territory alert. They are so loud and noisy that their calls can be heard from several miles. Macaw will learn some words and phrases but it will love to do screaming as compared to talking. Scarlet macaw has several likes and dislikes. It can be easily trained and taught some complicated tricks as we know it is very intelligent bird.

Body language

Macaw have the ability to communicate in different ways but the most common and clear sign is their body language and actions. Once you successfully observe and interpret their signs, it will become easy for you to tell their feelings, emotions, moods and other signs. Though some signs and postures are very clear but some may have dual meanings.

If your bird shows the listed actions, try to observe and learn what he is up to and trying to tell.

•Pinning and dilating pupils  If you observe that your parrots pupils are dilating or pinning in and out, it means that he is very excited. His favorite food or new toys may make him excited which is shown by his actions. If you find him fanning his tail along with pupil dilation then he is very aggressive and is ready to bite.

Attack posture  Some of the aggressive postures are standing tall, spitting and hissing, fanning his tail, fluffing back feathers and ready to bite. Sometimes aggression is normal for macaws.

Flapping  Birds love to flap. This flapping shows that their body needs some exercise or they want your attention, as they are attention seekers.

•Shivering  A shivering macaw shows that he is nervous or afraid of something. In that case try to calm him down, pat him and talk to him.

•Blushing  Some species of macaws show blushing. They blush when they want mate or a partner, and when they are excited.

Regurgitating  This action is also common in macaws. They regurgitate for their mates and shows them love and affection by this behavior. They even bring up food by bobbing up and down their heads and  place food in their mate's mouth.

•Biting  As we know that macaws love biting and chewing. But older macaws also shows anxiety, anger and threat by biting.

•Head snaking  The macaws glide his head like a snake in order to seek his owners attention. Head snaking also shows the excitement of your bird as well as his playful mood.

•Preening and fluffing  This action shows that they are relaxed. They also fluff their feathers to remove dust particles, fluffed feather could also be a sign of illness.

Foot up while looking  This posture means "pick me up". Macaws have an excellent sense of humor. If you are nervous to pick him up, it will result in lunge.