Pretty Pets





Military Macaw
Scientific Name -

Ara militaris

Distribution -
Central Mexico - North and West South America

Description -
Weight: 800-1150 gm
Size: 27-28 inches
Distinct Markings: Overall green to darker green on back and wings, head and neck lighter green. Forehead and feather lines on face red, bare skin ion face white. Wings green with tips blue. Tail dark red with blue tip, underside dull yellow, rump and lower back blue. Beak and feet are dark grey to black.

Young hand-raised macaws are very adaptable and typically easily handled by many people. Macaws can make excellent pets, especially Hyacinths, and Blue & Golds, although some have a tendency to become nippy. Macaws can be very loud as well as destructive. While some speak, most macaws have limited ability to mimic.

Subspecies -
Ara M. Mexicana - Has black throat feathers.
Ara M. Boliviensis - Has rust colored throat feathers.

Behavior/Aviculture -
Macaws are playful and love to chew. They should always be provided with toys, especially wooden blocks which can be chewed, and branches from nontoxic trees. In order to ensure safety companion macaws should not be allowed unsupervised freedom in the home as they often encounter toxins or dangerous items. Young macaws should be socialized to many people and exposed to a variety of situations such as new cages, toys, visits to the veterinarian, handling by friends wing and nail clippings to avoid fear of novel situations.

Macaws are very active and should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allows. Macaws MUST be allowed space to fully extend their wings or muscle atrophy will occur rendering them unable to fly. As macaws are strong chewers, durable cage construction in very important. Many are also adept at opening cage latches. Locks or escape proof latches may be necessary on cages.

All companion and breeding birds should be individually identified to assist in recovery if lost and assist in maintenance of medical and genealogical records. Many breeders apply closed legs bands when chicks are young. While they present a slight risk of entrapment closed bands are preferable to no identification, especially for breeding birds. Microchips which can be implanted into the muscle or under the skin are a reliable means of identification but require electronic readers to verify identification. Tattoos may be used but often fade or become illegible with time. Foot prints may have some application in identification.

Routine bathing or showering is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin condition. Birds can be misted and allowed to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or dried with a blow drier. Care should be taken not to clip the wing feathers excessively as macaws often fall and injure themselves. Clip only enough so the bird will glide to the floor.
Life Span: Up to 50 years in large species.
Age at maturity:
3-6 years

Breeding age is up to approximately 30-35 years.

Diet -
All macaws should be fed a formulated (pelleted or extruded diet) as a basis for good nutrition. The diet should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Treats maybe given in small amounts especially as rewards for good behavior. Special requirements - Large macaws, especially hyacinths, green wings and Buffon's, need high fat foods such as nuts in their diet. Fresh clean water must be provided every day. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds which are eating a formulated diet. Pretty Bird manufactures special high energy diets which are appropriate for feeding macaws. For Conversion see our brochure on; Converting your seed eating bird to a formulated diet.

Breeding Information -
Military macaws are bred frequently in captivity. Breeding season is usually in spring and early summer, although some pairs will breed almost year round. Clutch size is usually 2-4 eggs but sometimes more. Incubation period is average 25.5 days (23-27 days). Some additional high fats seeds, like sunflower seed, should be added to the diet during the breeding season to stimulate reproduction.

Military Macaws are difficult to hand feed from a very early age. Inexperienced hand feeders should allow the parents to feed for the first few weeks. They require a high fat diet and do well with additional protein as well especially at a very young age. Pretty Bird 19/15 or 19/12 are good choices. A small amount of peanut butter or ground sunflower seeds may be added to increase protein and fat levels.

Many macaw species are bred regularly in captivity. Breeding season and clutch size - Usually in spring and early summer, although some pairs will breed almost year round. Macaws should be provided with plentiful chewing material. Pine shavings make excellent nest box bedding. Cage size - Variable according to the size of the bird. Macaws must be able to open their wings without touching the sides of their breeding cage and should have adequate space to move freely between 2 perches. Example of appropriate cage size for large macaws is 5' x 5' x 8'. Cages for large macaws must be constructed of strong wire which can withstand chewing. Chain link may be needed for individuals which break welded wire caging.

Nest Box-
Large horizontal wooden boxes (approx. 24 x 24 x 36 or 48) are well accepted by large macaws while some will breed well in a vertical wooden box (approx. 12 x 12 x 36). Metal, plastic or wooden barrels may also be used. Macaws should be provided with plentiful chewing material. Pine shavings make excellent nest box bedding.

Macaw species show no obvious sexual dimorphism (visual difference between the species) therefore endoscopic examination or laboratory sexing techniques are needed for accurate sex determination.

Common Diseases And Disorders -
Proventricular Dilatation Disease (Macaw wasting disease)
Feather picking
Chewing flight and tail feathers by juveniles
Oral and Cloacal papillomas
Psittacosis (chlamydiosis)
Bacterial, viral and fungal infections
Constricted toe syndrome, chicks
Beak malformations - chicks
Kidney Disease - gout
Toxicity, heavy metal poisoning

Many common health problems of macaws can be prevented by a good diet, nutrition and routine health care. Routine veterinary examination (annually) can help you to keep your pet in excellent health and enhance your relationship with your bird.