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Fun Facts About Macaws – Top 15 Fun Facts About Macaws

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Macaws are perhaps the most easily recognizable birds in the parrot family. Colorful and entertaining, these birds have been kept as pets for hundreds of years.

These birds are characters, each having different personalities, likes, and dislikes. Due to their size, macaws can be challenging to care for, but they are loyal companions who are worth the time commitment. Here are a few fun facts about these playful members of the parrot family.

Fun Facts About Macaws – List

Macaws Are the Largest Parrots

Blue hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) adult in a tree.
Jürgen & Christine Sohns / Getty Images Fun Facts About Macaws

There are more than 370 different types of parrots, and macaws are the largest. Macaws normally weigh between two and four pounds, which is fairly hefty for a bird. The largest of the macaws, the hyacinth macaw, can reach lengths of nearly three and a half feet long from the beak to the tip of the tail. Also, they boast an impressive wingspan of up to 60 inches. 02 of 05

There Are Many Macaw Varieties

Face of a blue macaw.
Digislides / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 Fun Facts About Macaws

While macaws are widely known as the largest parrots, it is worth noting that there are many different types of macaws that come in a variety of sizes.

The smallest macaws, known affectionately as mini macaws, sometimes only grow to lengths of 12 inches, about the size of a medium-sized conure or large parakeet. No matter how big or small they are, all macaws (with the exception of the hyacinth macaw) share a few common attributes, the most prominent being the bare rings of skin around their eyes. For many people, this is the most recognizable trait among macaws. 03 of 05

Macaws Can Live More Than 80 Years

Blue and gold macaw in flight.
agustavop / Getty Images Fun Facts About Macaws

When properly taken care of, some macaw species, such as blue and gold macaws can live for an average of 60 years, and many have been recorded to live for up to 80 years or even more.

Those who are interested in adopting a macaw are strongly cautioned to make sure that they are willing to commit enough time to care for their pet. It is not at all uncommon for these birds to outlive their owners, so make the same provisions for their care as you would for any other dependent. 04 of 05

It Is Possible to Breed Hybrid Macaws

Face of a macaw hybrid.
J & C Sohns / Getty Images Fun Facts About Macaws

As many different varieties of macaws as there are naturally, breeders in the pet trade have also been able to make bold and colorful hybrid macaws.

Examples of hybrid macaws include the Catalina macaw, the harlequin macaw, and the Camelot macaw. While these birds have been extraordinarily popular among pet owners, many oppose the breeding of hybrid macaws, since these birds do not occur naturally in the wild. 05 of 05

Some Macaws Are Strong Enough to Crack Coconut Shells

Hyacinth macaw cracking open a shell with its beak.
RafaPress / Getty Images Fun Facts About Macaws

Hyacinth macaws have enough strength in their massive beaks to crack a coconut shell.

Despite their impressive strength, hyacinth macaws are known as the “gentle giants” of the macaw world due to their sweet and affectionate dispositions, especially when raised as hand-fed babies.

Other types of macaws also have powerful and impressive beaks, making them a force to be reckoned with during acts of aggression or bouts of hormonal behavior. This is a major reason why macaws are generally recommended only for those who have experience keeping large parrots.

And to reiterate, macaws, like all parrots, need social interaction and socialization so they don’t grow bored. A bored macaw will chew on any wood it can find, and with its powerful beaks, this can mean serious destruction.

Macaws have a beautiful appearance that’s also well adapted to their environment

These birds possess a brilliant plumage, and a coloring that is suited to the Amazon jungle with its bright fruits and flowers and vivid green canopies. Different species of macaws possess varying bright colour combinations, such as blue and gold or green and red, along with sporting beautiful long graceful tails. A macaw’s facial feather pattern is highly distinctive and thought to be as unique as a fingerprint. They have long toes and sharp claws which they use to latch onto branches and examine items, and their first and fourth toes point backward. They’ve also been observed using their powerful beak as a third leg!

Macaws are the largest type of parrot

There are around 376 species of parrot throughout the world, and macaws are the biggest of all of them. The largest species, such as the Hyacinth macaw, can span up to 3.5 feet in length, including a huge wingspan of around 4 to 5 feet. The largest macaws weigh between 2 and 4 pounds and they have especially light bones which aid their flight. 

macaws in flight
Fun Facts About Macaws

 Habitat of choice is the tropical rainforest

Macaws are native to South and Central America, found anywhere between Southern Mexico and Northern Argentina. They prefer rainforests, but can also be found in other types of forests as well as woodland and savannah-like habitats. Types of macaws that are particularly common to the Amazon include the blue and yellow macaws, the scarlet macaw and the red and green macaws, along with numerous others.

Macaws have a peculiar relationship with poison

Their diet mainly consists of fruits, seeds, leaves, flowers and nuts. Most species possess a large and extremely powerful beak which they use to open nut shells, including such foods as tough as coconuts. In the Amazon, macaws can be seen congregating at clay licks along river banks where they feed on the damp soil. There are various theories about why they do this. It may be a way for them to neutralize the assorted toxins in their fruit and seed-filled diet and to aid digestion. Others have highlighted that clay licks are a valuable source of minerals, particularly sodium which is hard for animals to obtain in the rainforest. Whilst macaws are apparently immune to the poisons found in many of their foods of choice (such as the seeds of Hura crepitans), they are thought to find cherries, avocados and chocolate poisonous!

top 9 macaw facts
Fun Facts About Macaws

5. Macaws typically mate for life

Once they reach breeding age at around 3 to 4 years old, macaws will pick a partner and stay with them for life. What’s more, pairs spend a great deal of their time together, not only for breeding, but also to share food, groom and in caring for their young. They can also be observed flying close to each other (almost touching) throughout the forest canopy.  

 Macaws are pretty loud

You will most likely hear a macaw before you see it. These birds are highly intelligent and gregarious creatures that congregate in flocks of anywhere between 30 and 100 individuals. Their loud calls, squawks and other distinctive vocalizations can be heard reverberating throughout the jungle, especially in the early morning. All this noise isn’t just for entertainment purposes. It’s used as a way to mark territory, communicate with the flock and identify partners. 

Some macaws can mimic human speech

Whilst macaws can’t exactly talk, they are famous for their ability to copy human speech, along with other noises in their environment. In captivity, they can be trained to imitate and practice specific words until they perfect exact sounds and even accents. But why do macaws mimic people? In short, they are highly social and intelligent creatures, and are thought to have a particularly well-developed vocal learning centre in their brain. Wild macaws are naturally programmed to create and respond to very specific sounds made by their family and wider flock members. In fact, a parent will give each of their chicks its own “name” and all members will know how to reproduce these individualized calls.

macaw birds in the amazon
Fun Facts About Macaws

Macaws are long-lived birds

Macaws live to be around 60 years in the wild on average, and in some cases this can extend for up to 80 years and even as long as 100 years. When kept as pets, macaws are often known for outliving their owners! In the wild, their long life span can be attributed to their relative lack of predators. 

Almost all macaw species are either threatened, critically endangered or extinct

Scientists have identified a total of 22 species of macaws. Of these, five are extinct (including the glaucus macaw and Spix’s macaw), three are critically endangered (the hyacinth macaws, red-fronted macaws and blue-throated macaws), four are listed as endangered, whilst all the rest are considered to be under threat. This pessimistic state of affairs is largely a product of illegal trapping for the bird trade. The birds’ charisma and entertainment value has made them popular pets worldwide. As with many other Amazon species, deforestation and habitat degradation also pose a significant threat to population numbers.