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Catalina Macaw

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Is the Catalina Macaw right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Rainbow Macaw; Camelot Macaw (Catalina x Ara macao); Capri Macaw (Camelot x Ara macao)

Scientific name: Ara ararauna x Ara macao

The basics:
The eye-catching Catalina Macaw was one of the first, and probably is still the most popular, of the hybrid macaws. It's a charming cross between the fairly even-tempered, good-humored Blue and Gold Macaw and that famous diva, the Scarlet Macaw.

In theory, the hybrids are both beautiful and a little less temperamental than the pure Scarlet. In practice, it depends on the bird and the training it receives. Don't slack off with the Catalina Macaw. Bring all of your best parrot management skills to keep your new pet as sweet as it was when you brought it home.

While working with these colorful birds, breeders have produced a couple of other forms. The Camelot is a Catalina crossed with a Scarlet, so that the bird's genes are now three-fourths Scarlet and only one-fourth Blue and Gold. A Capri is a Camelot crossed with a Scarlet, so that you've now got 7/8 Scarlet genes and only 1/8 Blue and Gold. With these birds, take the same care and pay the same attention that you would if you had a pure-bred Scarlet. The hybrids aren't guaranteed to be temperamental divas, but the genetic potential is there, so work patiently and lovingly with your birds to maintain their personality.

Appearance:
Hybrids are individuals, so that not two hybrids of the same type look exactly the same. That said, the Catalina Macaw is usually a long, graceful parrot with a striking yellow-orange or deep orange underside.

Weight:
1040 - 1285 grams (37 - 45 oz.)

Average size:
85 - 86 centimeters (34 in.)

Lifespan:
50+ years

Behavior / temperament:
Catalina Macaws generally combine the best of both parent species, although some people say that the father's genes will dominate. They tend to be brash, intelligent, and confident, with a wicked sense of humor. That said, they can also offer the usual macaw challenges – they may bite, they may get too loud, and they may become territorial. Some birds will insist on bonding to one particular person, and that person has a responsibility to develop a deep understanding of their pet, in order to prevent biting, screaming, or plucking.

A consult with a parrot trainer can be a great investment for anyone holding a Catalina macaw. An individual that takes after the Scarlet side of the family has the potential to be demanding and somewhat temperamental, so treat these beautiful birds with extra respect to make sure that you don't make them feel nervous, fearful, or forgotten.

Housing:
A single Catalina Macaw needs a huge, specialty cage that accommodates the long, graceful tail. A good minimum sized primary cage would be 40”w x 30”d x 60”h with no more than 1½ ” bar spacing. Many captive Macaws rarely or never fly, so it's more important to have room to encourage them to climb than to worry about a long horizontal flight. The cage should be a professionally constructed, powder-coated metal. Cheap wooden fittings and perches will be chewed-up matchsticks in less than a day. You should employ stout manzanita perches in areas where you do not want to change the perches very often. You should also have plenty of macaw-safe perches and toys for the bird to chew at will. Do not punish the bird for chewing these items to destruction, since you want your pet to chew them for good healthy exercise. Yes, you'll go through a lot of toys.

It is very important with a parrot of this size to provide a large playpen area that is away from the cage – NOT on top of the cage. At times, especially during hormonal surges, your Catalina Macaw can become very territorial about its cage, and you will want to have plenty of practice moving the bird to neutral territory where the macaw can play without feeling obligated to defend the area. They are powerful birds, and you want to establish yourself as kind but in control of the relationship from the very beginning.

Do not plan on being able to put a Catalina Macaw in a breeding program when it's older. Hybrid macaws are intended to be pets or performers. The priority for breeders must always be to preserve the original species. So be extra motivated to keep your bird trained and friendly, and don't hesitate to consult with a parrot behaviorist if you have any questions.

Diet:
The Catalina Macaw demands a varied, nutrient-rich diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources. There are several diets that work for this species. A good pellet-based diet, with lots of chopped vegetables and fruits on the side, can be a good daily diet, but take care that this intelligent bird does not get bored with the pellets. Soak-and-cook, either from a vet or a commercial supplier, can be the answer, although it's more work than pellets. Many people like to create their own grain and legume based diet, which generally includes a mix of well-cooked beans and grains, including brown rice. As a practical matter, you will probably want to prepare the cooked diet in large batches, freezing what you're not using in a couple of days, and then defrosting it as you need it.

Small, high carbohydrate seeds like millet can be included in the mix. Don't laugh. Macaws do have the patience to crack tiny millet seed, and these seeds are low in fat, so if you have an overweight bird, you can still allow them the pleasure of cracking seed, without loading them down with lots of fat. Unless the bird is very overweight, the Catalina Macaw will benefit from up to 20% nuts in the diet, especially nuts in the shell that the bird can enjoy cracking for itself.

A well-socialized Catalina Macaw may want to help you eat your dinner, which is fine if you eat a healthy diet that's rich in vegetables and whole grain, but never allow a macaw to sample avocado, chocolate, or undercooked meat or poultry. While several species of macaws have been seen at the clay licks taking salt, today's modern diets already have plenty of salt. Don't salt the macaw's food or provide supplemental salt except on the advice of an avian vet.

Written by Elaine Radford

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