Classification Order Psittaciformes, Family Psittacidae Scientific Name Ara Militaris Other Common Names N/A
Species Description The Military Macaw is 70 cm (27.5 in) long. It
is mostly green in color with the head a slightly paler shade. It
bears a red frontal patch, with a white bare facial area barred with
narrow black lines. The flight feathers are blue and the red tail
bordered with blue. The large strong beak is grey-black and the iris
Military Macaws live in large flocks and can live about 50-60 years
in the wild. They can often be heard long before they are seen. They
are a very noisy bird making a variety of loud cracking and
shrieking sounds, including a loud kraa-aak.
Macaw's diet consists of seeds, fruits, nuts, berries and other
vegetation found on treetops in their forests. Their beaks are well
adapted for eating various seeds and nuts as they have the ability
to break open the hardest of shells with relative ease.
Military Macaws will leave their roosts in flocks around dawn and
head to their feeding areas. They will also visit heaps of clay
known as "macaw licks". These clay licks are found along riverbanks
or sometimes in the interior of the Amazon rainforest. Macaws will
flock to there to feed on these clay deposits, which appear to
detoxify the poisons found in the seeds and vegetation of the rest
of their diet.
The three subspecies will breed at
different times. However this probably has more to do with the
geographical region they are residing in than anything else.
Breeding in the militaris occurs from January to March. The mexicana
breeds from April to July and the boliviana breeds in November and
December. Military Macaws are monogamous and remain with their mates
for life. As they fly in large flocks the mates fly together. They
will also be found flying in pairs in their feeding and
roosting/nesting areas. Females will lay one to two eggs which only
she will incubate for a period of approximately 26 days. Military
Macaws will reach sexual maturity in two to four years.
Habitat The Military Macaw inhabits arid woodlands and
subtropical forests. They will nest in the tops of trees and more
often in cliff-faces over 600 ft. (200 m) above the ground.
Distribution The Ara m. militaris are often found in areas
of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. The Ara m. mexicana occupy
areas in Mexico and the Ara m. boliviana live in Bolivia and
Captivity When considering a Military Macaw as a pet, it
is very important to verify the bird was bred in captivity. The U.S.
Wild Bird Act forbids the commercial import of any bird listed by
CITES. Though it is not among the most popular parrot species sought
as a pet. The military macaw is often bred in captivity for trade
and can be purchased for $800.00 to $1,000. The most common of the
subspecies kept as pets is the mexicana and they live for more than
60 years in captivity.
Like most macaws, Military Macaws will be even tempered although
sometimes they may be difficult and cranky. But, with proper
training they can become a very tame and friendly pet. They are a
very social bird who are playful and inquisitive and enjoy human
interaction. Though they can be a noisy bird, they are very
intelligent and have the ability to mimic human speech. They are
considered to be a good choice for a show bird.
important to have the proper housing for your pet. The Military
Macaw requires a minimum cage size of 36x48x60. A flight cage and
plenty of time outside the cage is also highly suggested as the
Military needs plenty of room to stretch and exercise its wings.
Also, be sure to provide a variety of perch sizes for your bird to
exercise its feet. Macaws also like to gnaw and chew so provide
plenty of toys for your bird to exercise its beak. Make sure to
clean and disinfect the cage regularly and replace all damaged toys
and perches regularly.
It is highly suggested to feed
your Macaw a specialized pellet diet with seeds in moderation. Fresh
fruits and vegetables such as, apples, berries, grapes, carrots,
broccoli and various greens leafy vegetables should be given to your
macaw and replaced at least every 24 hours. Also, it is recommended
to regularly provide your pet with fresh clean water. Proper bathing
and cleaning is also very important for your pet macaw. Provide
clean water for bathing. Remove and replace it with fresh clean
water when the bird is finished. You may also shower or mist your
bird. This is often enjoyed and is usually a fun alternative for
your pet and will often generate a playful attitude in the bird.
Then allow the bird to sun-dry if possible.
illnesses in pet Military Macaws include chlamydiosis, diarrhea,
feather-plucking, and Proventricular Dilatation Disease. Swelling in
the beak or eyes, eye or nasal discharge, loss or appetite, coughing
or lethargic activity are all warning signs of an ill pet.
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.)