Macaws are the most known species of parrots. These birds, aside from being beautiful, are known for being highly intelligent. Despite their stubborn nature, once tamed, they make some of the best and most entertaining pets.
A sure way to their hearts is through food. What do Macaws eat? Let’s explore.
Table of Contents
Macaws Habits And Biology
Macaws are brilliantly colored birds that are members of the New World parrots. Most of them have vibrant plumage (feathers) and long tails.
The name macaw refers to the species of these birds which are native to North and South America. Both the male and the female birds look alike, a characteristic that is uncommon among vibrantly colored birds.
Did you know the largest parrot species is called the hyacinth macaw? They may reach lengths of up to 100 centimeters (39.5 inches). The scarlet macaw is by far the most commonly known New World parrot.
Macaw parrots generally weigh approximately 1550-1600 grams (3-3.5 pounds). Adults sexually mature at the ages between 2-4 years, depending on their species. Females lay between 1-3 eggs yearly.
Their beaks also serve as a third foot as it aids in climbing trees, searching for seeds, flowers, fruits, and leaves. You can find macaws nesting in tree hollows, whereas some species will nest in riverbank holes.
Macaws are typically social birds and may mate for life. Both the male and female birds play a crucial role in raising their young, defending them aggressively against intruders.
In their natural habitat, you’ll find them flying in large groups with lovers flying close together and their wings almost touching.
When flying, they can achieve speeds of up to 56 kilometers per hour. Macaws show signs of intelligence as they are capable of imitating human vocalizations.
The average lifespan of macaws ranges between 60-65 years old. In captivity, they can live for about 80 years if well cared for.
What Do Macaws Eat In The Wild?
In the wild, you’ll find macaws foraging for food on treetops or even on the ground. At dawn, they’ll fly together in large flocks in search of food to sustain them.
Macaws are omnivorous birds, and they will feed on a wide range of foods in the wild. The type of foods they consume primarily depends on th area they occupy and the varying seasons.
Baby macaws, also known as chicks, feed more often than their adult counterparts. They eat after every four hours throughout the day. Chicks will be fed regurgitated foods by their parents.
Macaws use their solid beaks to crack open tough nuts and seeds. They then use their coarse tongues to extract the fleshy parts of the seeds and nuts which they eat.
Adult macaws typically eat about 10-15% of their body weight every day. They may feed several times throughout the day.
Wild macaws eat the following foods:
- Seeds and nuts – in the wild, they feed on mainly peanut and sunflower seeds. They will also feed on grains such as almonds and caches when they are available.
- Fruits – such as bananas, apples, and peaches are commonly eaten in the wild.
- Vegetation – such as soft leaves and grass, is enjoyed by these birds.
- Berries – like blackberries and raspberries are abundant in the areas they inhabit and serve as delicious treats for macaw parrots
- Clay – you’ll see macaws in the wild on hillsides feeding on clay that helps neutralize some of the toxins found in fruits and plant matter they eat.
- Nectar – macaws will also suck on nectar like other birds, providing energy to sustain them throughout the day.
- Eggs – other birds’ eggs provide these parrots with proteins and nutrients to aid their growth and development.
- Snails – are rich in calcium that help develop their bones and other features like their beaks.
- Insects and bugs – are high in a variety of nutrients and minerals essential in their diets.
What Do Macaws Eat As Pets?
Like their counterparts in th wild, macaws’ diets in captivity are more or less the same. These birds require balanced diets containing proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water.
Pet macaws eat several times a day, every day, just as those that live in the wild. They will feed every few hours throughout the day. Parrots are highly active all day and need to replenish their energy, hence their big appetites.
The following includes examples of foods you could feed your pet macaw:
Pellets are specially made to meet most if not all nutritional needs of your macaw’s diet. Different varieties cater to and help manage certain diseases. Pellets should serve as a staple diet for your macaw. It should make up at least 75-80% of your bird’s diet.
You should gradually try and wean your macaw off a seed diet as it is not as healthy. It will take some weeks for them to get accustomed to feeding on the new food item. Always ensure their dishes have pellets.
- Fruits and veggies.
At least 25% of their diets should be made up of fruits and vegetables. Veggies with a high water composition like celery or iceberg have high nutritional values.
Thoroughly wash the fruits you are to feed your macaw to remove any harmful chemicals (e.g., herbicides or pesticides).
Nuts that you feed your bird should be raw and salt-free. Examples of healthy nuts for macaws include shelled peanuts, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, and pistachios.
Most if not all species of macaws are practically addicted to eating seeds. They are high in proteins and are healthy for the birds to eat. However, some seeds have high-fat concentrations and aren’t healthy when regularly eaten.
Canary seeds, oats, safflower, buckwheat, and millets are examples of seeds you could give your birds. Avoid feeding your macaw sunflower seeds as they are high in fats and may lead to obesity.
Tips To Feeding Macaws
Macaws are entertaining pets to have around, but they can be stubborn if not cared for correctly. The best way to win a macaw’s heart is through its stomach. It is, however, vital to ensure your bird doesn’t become a “seedaholic” or addicted to eating seeds or nuts.
Macaw parrots require a complete diet containing more pellets or bird food mix, veggies, fruits, and a little nuts and seeds. To bring up a happy and lively macaw, here are some tips to consider:
Feed your bird a diet that contains at least 75% pellets or bird food mix.
- Such a diet is called a base diet mix. The mixture should include a mix of nuts, seeds, veggies, greens, and dried fruits.
- When purchasing pellets, it would be best to choose those that are additive-free. Instead, choose those that are raw-ingredient based.
Offer your birds fruits and veggies in a separate dish.
- Properly clean the fruits to eliminate any possible chemical traces. Proceed to chop the fruits into small pieces and serve them in a separate dish from the base diet mix. The fruit and veggies mixture should account for 25% of the macaw’s diet.
- Occasionally mix up the fruits and veggies to prevent your bird from becoming too attached to one type of food.
- Avoid feeding your parrot a lot of high acid fruits like grapes and oranges.
- Please don’t feed your bird avocados as they are toxic and may lead to severe ailments.
Feed your macaw a modest amount of seeds.
- Serve them a few nuts and seeds along with pellets or bird food mix, fruits, and vegetables. Alternatively, add the seeds and nuts to the pellet or bird food mix.
Ensure that your macaw always has access to fresh water at all times.
- Your pet should always have hydrated water in its cage. The bowl should at least have a shallow base.
- Preferably serve your bird the water in a stainless bowl.
Occasionally supplement your macaw’s diet.
- Aside from their regular diet, supplement your bird’s diet with nut or peanut butter to add some protein and fats to their diets.
- The amount of peanut butter you feed them should be equal to 10 or 20% of their body weight. An example is if your macaw weighs 5 kilograms (10 pounds), feed it 0.5 kilograms (1 pound) of peanut butter.
Give your macaw some vitamin and mineral supplement to macaws on a seed diet.
- If your macaw is already a “seedaholic,” sprinkle some vitamin and mineral powder on top of the soft foods you serve them. These may be foods like fruits or vegetables.
Give more proteins to your younger macaws.
- Legumes, cooked meat, and chicken should be offered to younger birds as an additional source of protein to aid in their development and growth.
When feeding your macaw seeds or nuts, make feeding time more enjoyable by hiding some to encourage foraging.
Follow the above steps to keep your macaw healthy and live longer.
Macaws being omnivores, have diverse diets. But they are very picky eaters, more often than not favoring nuts and seeds. They may prove to be difficult pets in the beginning, but things get easier with time.
Knowing “what do macaws eat?” should make it easy to connect with your bird.