Classification Order Psittaciformes, Family Psittacidae Scientific Name Diopsittaca nobilis Other Common Names Red-Shouldered Macaw, Noble Macaw, Long-Wing Macaw
- There are two distinct subspecies, D. n. nobilis (Hahn's Macaw) and
D. n. cumanensis (Noble Macaw), and some with longer wings might
represent a poorly differentiated subspecies, D. n. longipennis.
Species Description A long narrow tail and a large head. It has
bright green feathers on the body, with dark or slate blue feathers
on the head just above the beak. The wings and tail have feathers
that are bright green above and olive-green below. The leading edges
of the wings, especially on the underside, are red. (These red
feathers appear at puberty.) Their eyes are orange, and the skin
around the eyes is white without feathers, just as in the larger
macaws. This bare patch of facial skin is smaller in proportion to
the head than the one seen in larger macaws.
range from 30 to 35 centimetres (12 to 14 inches) in length, and
have good speech mimicry. They are frequently breed in captivity for
the commercial pet trade. They are not considered to be an
endangered species, but wild populations have declined locally due
to habitat loss.
The Red-shouldered Macaw nests in a hole
in a tree. There are usually three or four white eggs in a clutch.
The female incubates the eggs for about 24 to 26 days, and the
chicks fledge from the nest about 54 days after hatching. The Hahn's
Macaw and Noble Macaw can be distinguished by the Hahn's having a black
upper mandible and the Noble having a lighter, horn-colored upper mandible.
Habitat These South American endemics are found in the
Guianas, Venezuela, Brazil - North of the Amazon.
Distribution It is native to the tropical lowlands, savannah
and swamplands of Venezuela, the Guianas, Bolivia, Brazil, and far
Captivity Hahn's macaws mimic speech as well as the
full-sized macaws: clearly enough to easily understand, but not
quite as human-like as an African Grey or a Yellow-headed Amazon.
Their natural vocalizations are more akin to screeches than they are
to whistles. This bird is more easily trained than the larger
macaws, and is more often recommended as a house pet than the other
Summary Macaws are small to large, often colorful New
World parrots. Of the many different Psittacidae (true parrots)
genera, six are classified as macaws: Ara, Anodorhynchus,
Cyanopsitta, Primolius, Orthopsittaca, and Diopsittaca. Previously,
the members of the genus Primolius were placed in Propyrrhura, but
the former is correct as per ICZN rules. Macaws are native to
Mexico, Central America, South America, and formerly the Caribbean.
Most species are associated with forest, especially rainforest, but
others prefer woodland or savanna-like habitats.
dark (usually black) beaks, and relatively hairless, light colored,
medial facial (facial patch) areas distinguish macaws. Sometimes the
facial patch is smaller in some species, and limited to a yellow
patch around the eyes and a second patch near the base of the beak
in the members of the genus Anodorhynchus, or Hyacinth Macaw. It has
been documented that a Macaw's facial feathers are unique as a human
Some of the macaw species are popularly
known for their impressive size. The largest parrot in length and
wingspan is the Hyacinth Macaw. The heaviest macaw is the Buffon's,
although the heaviest parrot is the flightless Kakapo. While still
relatively large parrots, the macaws of the genera Cyanopsitta,
Orthopsittaca and Primolius are significantly smaller than the
members of Anodorhynchus and Ara. The smallest member of the family,
the Red-shouldered Macaw, is no larger than some parakeets of the
Macaws, like other parrots, as well as toucans and
woodpeckers, are zygodactyl, having their first and fourth toe
Macaws eat nuts, seeds, fruit, and sometimes insects. They also gnaw
and chew on various objects. They show a large amount of
intelligence in their behavior and require constant intellectual
stimulation to satisfy their innate curiosity. They often learn
Macaws have been said to live for up to
100 years; however, an average of 50 years is probably more
accurate. The larger macaws may live up to 65 years. They are
monogamous and mate for life. In captivity unmated macaws will bond
primarily with one person – their keeper, and can often be quite
affectionate and cuddly. Pet macaws thrive on frequent interaction
and attention from their owners, and a lack of this can lead to
their mental and physical suffering.
also take place and most macaws that are subjected to non-aggressive
behavior will trust most humans, and can be handled even by
strangers if someone familiar is also alongside.
pet macaws sometimes display difficult behavior, the most common
being biting, screaming, and feather-plucking. Feather-plucking does
not normally occur in the wild, strongly suggesting that it is the
result of a neurosis related to life in captivity, though some
sources suggest other causes such as inbreeding in captive
populations, food allergies, and dry skin (most of these birds are
adapted to humid climates).
Most pet macaws had ancestors
living in the wild just two to four generations ago, and are not
truly domesticated by any reasonable definition. (This is unlike,
for example, dogs; some estimates put the domestication of dogs as
far back as 40,000 years ago.) They are, however, quite social and
All species of macaws have very
powerful, large beaks and large macaws are capable of destroying
household furnishings and can potentially cause considerable harm to
both children and adults. They tend to be loud: in the wild their
voices need to carry over long distances. This makes macaws very
demanding birds to keep as a household pet. Additional complications
arise from the intelligence levels of macaws and their negative
responses to stimuli people may use on domestic pets, such as
A common trend in recent years is hybridising
macaws for the pet trade. Hybrids are typical macaws, with the only
difference from true species being their genetics and their colors.
Male offspring tend to take on the traits of the mother, and the
females take the traits of the father. As for their temperament and
behavior, they seem to inherit traits of both parents.
Aviculturists have reported an over abundance of female blue and
gold macaws in captivity, which differs from the general rule with
captive macaws and other parrots, where the males are more abundant.
This would explain why the blue and gold is the most commonly
hybridised macaw, and why the hybridising trend took hold among
macaws. Common macaw hybrids include Harlequins (Ara ararauna x
chloroptera) and Catalinas (known as Rainbows in Australia, A.
ararauna x macao).
As a number of species of macaws are
endangered, it would be beneficial to maintain pure breeding stock
of captive macaws to ensure species preservation. Hybridizing
dilutes the available gene pool and could hasten a species
Macaws are known to eat clay, which is
believed to work as an antidote to the poisonous seeds they eat. The
chemicals in the clay mix with the poison allowing it to pass
through the bird's digestive system without harming the bird.
Large Macaws require a large amount of room and thus the cage a
single bird occupies should be as large as possible, 36 inches wide
x 36 inches deep x 60 inches high, or larger. They need ample
amounts of room to prevent the muscles in their wings from
atrophying as well as plenty of room to play, exercise in, and
spread their wings. The bars of the cage should be no larger than 1
inch apart and should be made of durable metal. It should not have
parts that contain lead or zinc, including paint on the bars. Cage
cleaning and hygiene are important, Many cages have a grate covering
the base to separate the bird from its droppings. The cage should be
placed in an area that is off the floor, well-lit, and of a
consistent temperature. Perches are acceptable and recommended;
perches of varied materials and size are required to keep feet
healthy. Stands placed strategicly around the house are important as
an additional place to hang out and be part of the family. A spray
bottle of lukewarm water can be used to bathe the bird. (All macaws
typically like water and will also respond happily to an outing in
the kitchen sink as well or spray down in the shower.)