Golden-Collared Macaw

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Is the Golden-Collared Macaw right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Yellow-collared Macaw; Yellow-collar Macaw; Yellow-Naped Macaw; Goldnackenara; Yellow Nape Macaw; Cassin's Macaw

Scientific name: Primolius auricollis

The basics:
Once you have seen a pair of these mini macaws perched in the setting sun, their gold collars capturing the rich light of the fading day, you are captivated. But the Gold-collared Macaw's beauty is just a bonus. Among pet owners, this bird is most admired for being smart, curious, and affectionate, with a size that is less intimidating to the new macaw owner than some of the better-known species.

This adaptable macaw is found in central South America, including Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. They seem to enjoy a variety of habitats, from lowland wetlands and upward to 600 meters, with local reports of sighting as high as 1,700 meters. They are said to be much more tolerant of human activities and disturbance than many other macaws, and I myself have seen flocks of them flying happily around a lakeside development in the Lake Zapoco, Bolivia area.

One of the smaller, easy-to-handle macaws, the Golden-collared Macaw is an eye-catching beauty that appears to sport a golden scarf over the nape of its neck.

250 - 280 grams (9 - 10 oz.)

Average size:
38 - 40 centimeters (15 - 15.7 in.)

30 - 40 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Golden-collared Macaw is probably not as well known as it should be. It has the affectionate nature and the intuitive intelligence of the larger macaws, and your pet should easily learn to step up, perform tricks, and maybe even say a few words. Like many other macaws, a mature adult, especially in the breeding season, may have an instinctive drive to nip or bite its mate to drive the mate away from a potential rival. If you are tightly bonded to your Golden-collared Macaw, and the bird bites when someone else enters the area, you may need to learn how to recognize what triggers the instinct to bite and how to distract your pet by quickly offering something chewy to occupy that busy beak. Please bear in mind that if you see one Golden-collared Macaw in the wild, you almost always see its mate, and if you don't see it right away, the other bird will call in its partner pretty quickly. Never leave this bird alone and neglected. Instead, choose this species only if you can be a true companion to the bird.

A good minimum sized primary cage for the Golden-collared Macaw would be 24"w x 24"d x 30"h with no more than 1-1/2" 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. A macaw is not a cheap date.

It is very important with a Golden-collared Macaw 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 Golden-collared Macaw may 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 may be smaller than many other macaws, but they still have a powerful bite, and you want to establish yourself as kind but in control of the relationship from the very beginning. If you allow yourself to be intimidated, even a smaller macaw can sometimes become aggressive. These birds go in pairs or, perhaps, small family groups in the wild, and it is not natural for them to spend a lot of time alone. Having play areas and perches in the places around the house where you normally go will allow your pet to satisfy its need to be near you as often as possible.

Like the other South American macaws and conures, the Golden-collared 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 Golden-collared 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 Golden-collared 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.

Important Note: Since Mini Macaws like the Golden-collared Macaw may be at risk for Conure Bleeding Syndrome, they do need vitamin K rich sources in the diet, such as turnip greens and other dark, leafy greens.

Written by Elaine Radford


small macaw body, beautiful boy, Amazing animals


nippy, low talking capabilities, enormous mess, bite, little tantrums


bird harness, fly safely outdoors, yellow collars

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