Skip to main content

7 interesting facts about macaws to decide if they’re right for you

It’s a straight-up fact: Macaws are amazing. Brightly colored. Fiercely intelligent. Chatty Cathys. You can look at just about any aspect of their sparkling personalities and find something to love. Of course, that doesn’t mean these birds are the right pet for everyone. As large, long-living creatures, they will fit well with a certain type of family: one with a lot of space and time to offer attention in excess. Still, welcoming a macaw into your fold will guarantee you endless entertainment and a lot of affection.

A pair of scarlet macaws sit on a branch

Macaws can live up to 50 years

That’s right — half a century. So, if you get a pet macaw as a kid, he’ll happily attend your retirement party. Some breeds live longer than others, and occasionally these guys have been known to even pass their golden jubilee. As with all pets, owning this bird means making a commitment — for decades in this case.

Related Videos

They’re the biggest pet bird

Unless you have an ostrich (or are a professional falconer), the hyacinth macaw is the biggest bird that we keep as pets. It’s the largest of the parrot family with a wingspan of 5 feet. For this reason, you can’t keep this bird in a little cage — he will need an aviary or large room to call his own. One other good part about this: Because they’re so big, many hyacinth macaws can live peacefully with cats and dogs, who won’t see them as easy prey.

Hyacinth macaw flies across the grass

They’ve been pets for almost 2,500 years

Or at least their cousins. The earliest recording of a parrot in captivity was 400 B.C. This may be part of the reason why we have such a bond with them and why they can learn to communicate so well with humans. Some breeds have spent a long time around us! And it seems they’ve picked something up.

They can learn to talk

Macaws are intelligent and social creatures, which helps them mimic human speech and gives them an urge to converse. Sometimes too much, as any parrot owner will attest. Bird vocal organs don’t look like mammalian ones, instead they use their syrinx to speak. Your animal’s vocabulary won’t match that of the African grey, but you can (and should) teach him a few words, phrases, and songs. He’ll love using this new skill to interact with you and even other pets in the household.

Macaw parents name their kids

Well, sort of. In the wild, macaws “talk” to each other with chirps and squawks. They court their mates, warn the flock of danger, and give their offspring names or something close to it. Many macaws designate clicks or trills to differentiate between members of their families. We certainly recommend teaching your parrot your name in English and perhaps he’ll translate it for you.

Macaw tilts his head up under a raised wing

Some macaws mate for life

They capture their partner’s attention with elaborate song and dance (or at least tail and vocal displays) and stay with the bird of their choice their whole long lives. Once mated, both males and females spend time incubating the eggs — these guys make very equitable parents. You’ll need to keep this in mind when choosing your pet since you would never want to separate a pair of love birds.

Many species are endangered or threatened

The problem is twofold: Macaws face loss of habitat and reduced numbers from the pet trade. That doesn’t mean you can’t own a macaw, but it does mean you should do your research and find a bird that’s been bred ethically. Consider adopting an animal in need of rehoming. Since they live so long, you will still have plenty of years left with your new avian. You can also donate to bird rescue organizations in his honor like the World Parrot Trust.

Sold on ownership with these facts about macaws? Remember that these birds require a ton of attention and training. If you get him as a small chick, you can’t just stick with imparting a large vocabulary. While they’re fairly easy to tame, it takes dedication to get your big bird to bond with you and others in the family. You also need to research their diet and habitat requirements (which vary by species) thoroughly before bringing home a feathered friend.

Editors' Recommendations

Why do birds fly into windows? The truth is kind of sad
There's a lot you can do to keep neighborhood birds from flying into windows
Bird takes flight off a branch in slow motion

Watching birds from the windows is one of the many perks of living near wildlife: we can stay warm and gaze out on the flocks that frequent our feeders. But sadly, these windows that allow us to view the outdoors can harm the creatures in it. Animals experience the world differently from us, and they see differently, too. Therefore, it's important to take steps to make your windows visible to birds (and other fauna) in order to help spare them from unnecessary death or injury. But why do birds fly into windows? We'll explain what the problem is and also give you some advice on how to prevent it. With a few simple tricks, you'll still get to enjoy the bird show and keep them from getting hurt. 

Why do birds fly into windows?
Turn off the lights inside and go out during the early morning to look at your windows. You'll likely see a dim version of your own yard reflected back to you. While it only gives you a moment's pause, birds don't understand that a plant can show up in a piece of glass but not really be there. Unfortunately, this means when they fly into your windows, they're actually trying to get into the trees. That's because there's a wide-open sky in the panes of your home welcoming the avians of your area.

Read more
Are ducks good pets? 8 things to consider when thinking of adopting these cute feathered friends
Cute duckling sits in the yard

Many have yearned for an ugly adorable duckling to call their own, but don't dive into this journey without some planning first. Under the right circumstances, ducks make great pets — they're cuddly, they're very intelligent, and they're social. These birds specifically love to be part of a group, sometimes called a raft, and will bond with both you and one another. As with many pets though, owning a duck comes with a list of good (and not-so-good) things to consider before you gather your flock.

Are ducks good pets? Here's what you need to know
As with all pets, it depends on what you're looking for. Be mindful of their need for space, water, outdoors, companionship, and protection. Ducks are not for everyone but will add a spunky sense of fun to the right home. Think about these eight things before getting ducks.
They live outdoors
Rule number one: Your pet duckling must live outside. They just can't be happy in any type of fully indoor enclosure, though you will want to provide some respite from the elements. Only dabble with ducks if you can secure sufficient outdoor space for them — free from predators, including dogs and cats who might mistake your cute and snuggly pet for a meal.
They need a house with a pool
Many folks keep their pet ducks in a shed or doghouse to provide a perfect cozy spot for them. Include a comfy straw bed and protection from wind. Of course, ducks need a pool for swimming, too. A pond or kiddie pool will do well, depending on how big your flock is. Ducklings can't fly, so you don't have to worry about them escaping, but they won't thrive unless they have ample space. Fencing around your yard will help keep pets in and predators out.

Read more
Determined to raise backyard chickens? 6 essential things to do before you set up your coop
Three chickens eat while outside in their backyard

Urban chicken coops are trendy and rightfully so. With a group of hens you get fun pets plus eggs — how often does the family dog contribute after all? But you can't dive in on every Instagram trend, and this one, in particular, requires a pretty big upfront commitment mixed with a reasonable amount of upkeep, especially for beginners who have never owned so much as a parakeet. Just because it seems like a lot to handle, that doesn't mean you aren't cut out for poultry farming; many find it fun and rewarding. Before jumping into backyard chickens, think through these six things and determine if a flock of birds is really the right fit for you.

Look up local laws
Even if you see chickens roaming nearby, you'll want to thoroughly check up on the laws of your area, as well as any HOA regulations. You'd be surprised how many very specific rules might apply to setting up your little farm. Think about the coop itself, the rules for owning fowl, and the noise ordinances. Specifically, if you intend to have a rooster heading up your group as they can crow at decibels you wouldn't imagine and at hours you don't usually see.
Find your perfect spot
Next, scope out your yard and start planning. You need a large space for the coop itself (more on that in a minute) but that's not the whole picture. Since you started with a relatively small space to begin with (remember chickens often roam over many acres in a more rural habitat), you want both an indoor structure and an outdoor run. Altogether, you might need a sizable portion of the yard to accommodate them. If you plan to add other birds like ducks, you must calculate too where the pool will go and how they will access it.
Design your urban chicken coop
There are probably a few laws governing how big this can be, and you might need to apply for a permit, so you'll spend a decent amount of time in the design phase. Decide if you want to buy something pre-made or build a structure that perfectly fits into your yard. Either way, you should allocate about three square feet per chicken, so your building will get big quick, even if you want to start small. And that's just indoors. They need to be able to come out sometimes but still stay safely nearby.
Research breeds
Think all chickens are the same? Think again. Get ready to narrow it down from the 500 chicken breeds out there. The local climate will slim that as well as the available space, but you still have a bit of your own studying to do. And it's not just breed, you can impact what types of eggs you get based on what chicks you get (along with the food and environment).

Read more