Species group: Macaws
Other common names: Red-and-green Macaw; Green Wing Macaw; Green Winged Macaw; Green-winged Macaw
Scientific name: Ara chloroptera
The Greenwing Macaw is a large, spectacular macaw that is often confused with the Scarlet Macaw because of its flashy red head, breast, and shoulders. This intelligent beauty has become one of the most popular of the pet macaws, because it is widely considered to be steadier and less diva-like in its behavior than the Scarlet.
With a large range in northern South America and into eastern Panama, they seem to adapt to a variety of forest habitats. They travel in pairs or small flocks, mostly trying to avoid humans. More northern residents thrive in rainforests, deciduous forests and wet woodlands while those farther south live in somewhat dryer woodlands. They aren't particularly easy to observe away from the clay licks, and they are probably declining because of illegal capture for the pet trade and loss of habitat to expanding agriculture.
A large spectacular mostly red macaw, the Green-winged is sometimes confused with the Scarlet Macaw. However, you can easily tell the two apart, because the the name gives you a quick clue: Greenwings have green on the wing, and Scarlets do not.
1050 - 1320 grams (37 - 46.5 oz.)
90 centimeters (35 in.)
Behavior / temperament:
There's no doubt about it. The highly intelligent Greenwing Macaw has a wicked sense of humor. The first Greenwing Macaw I ever met offered to shake my hand, then pulled my hand into the cage and bit me. Then he burst out in raucous human laughter. You can get a lot of delight from these playful, confident birds, but you cannot allow yourself to be played or to be intimidated. They can be true gentle giants that perform in public and go to anyone, or they can be the terrors of the household, and it is up to their human caretakers to socialize them properly.
If you have any doubts about your ability to handle this large, confident Macaw, then don't hesitate to contact a good behaviorist or trainer to help you gain firm, loving control over your pet's behaviors. If I had known the first thing about Macaws in those days, I would not have been bitten, because I would have known better than to shake hands with a Greenwing on the home territory of his own cage. While no Macaw is placed in the front rank of talkers like Amazons or Greys, they can often learn a few words in a clear, human voice, so I highly recommend some voice lessons. Let the bird call you by name or by hinting, "Hi, pretty bird," instead of with a natural, screechy "contact" call more appropriate to the great outdoors.
A single Greenwing 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 1-1/2" bar spacing. Many captive Greenwings 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. Although not considered to be a classic diva like a Scarlet Macaw, a Greenwing Macaw will still expect you to lavish some money on its lifestyle.
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 Greenwing 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. If you allow yourself to be intimidated, a Greenwing 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.
If you must set up the bird in an outdoor aviary removed from the family, talk to another macaw breeder and then carefully go through the appropriate steps to set up the bird with a friend or a mate. An outdoor aviary needs to be carefully designed to protect your birds from thieves, nuisance animals that can threaten a bird such as raccoons, and special netting to protect from mosquito-borne disease. An added twist is that these strong, intelligent birds might figure out a way to let themselves out of the aviary and then become confused or lost. Before you design the aviary, talk to someone who has done it before.
Like the other South American macaws, the Greenwing 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 Greenwing 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 Greenwing 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, including the Greenwing, 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
favorite macaws, gentle giant, intelligent bird, climbing, excellent talkers, fantastic pets
high strung, biggest cage, big beak, aggressive, finger crunches, severe behavior problems
flight hall, appetites large macaws, super sized, enormous wingspan, great problemsolvers
A Whole Lotta Bird!!
And I'm not just referring to the SIZE! We owned a JUMBO Greenwinged Macaw, named Ruby (Jumbo size because she was the same size as most Hyacinth macaws -the world's largest species of macaw).
She was an angel with the intelligence where you know she could control you if she really wanted to (after all, her beak WAS just a shade smaller than my closed-fist (and that's PRETTY DANGED BIG!) Her feet were a tiny bit smaller than my hands, from my middle finger to the bottom of my palm in length. This was a BIG girl. Nonetheless, she was sweet in spite of her size. We could pet her whole body from her head to her tail. Often, we would scratch her head (feeling the little pin feathers beneath her regular head feathers), onto the smooth shiny feathers on her back, and her gorgeous tail. She was so kind. The only biting we ever experienced (ironically enough) was her nibbling the cuticle of the side of our fingernails with the very tip of her pointy beak. She never tried to inflict real harm. That being said, I would still watch a bird of this size around toddlers (that was the reason we found her a new home -because we had a toddler, and we just didn't want to take any chances). But we loved her from the moment we got her until the day she left. :-( I still think about her. Her beautiful feathers were every color of the rainbow. I especially like her tail feathers --probably 2 feet long or more, and red on one side, blue on the other side. She was a gorgeous angel. She had a pretty good diet of big, hard shelled nuts (which she cracked late at night IN THE DARK, no less (in spite of ALL you've been told about parrots being quiet at night*). We also gave her standard parrot food, and a variety of fruits, veggies, corn, pasta, and just about anything (but NO AVOCADOES or CHOCOLATE (those are bad for birds).
She was a spoiled baby. And we miss her. :-(
*Most parrots are diurnal (meaning they are most active in daylight). This means that, typically, they will be quiet during the night, so they don't draw attention to themselves by potential predators. I speculate that miss Ruby didn't care whether she ate her nuts at night (crunching happily in the darkness), because she pretty much knew she could give ANY predator a run for their money with her HUGE BEAK!.
From Midnight_Writer Jan 3 2015 12:15AM
Green-winged macaws - Difficult, but amazing!
Green-winged macaws, and macaws in general, are not for a novice owner. These guys are incredibly social, and when they are with people who understand their needs, can really blossom. But, they need A LOT of attention. Not only do they need social interactions - snuggles for those that will enjoy it, play time with their owner, etc. - they also need training. Lots of training. These birds are very intelligent, and very receptive to positive reinforcement training, but without it they can become destructive, frustrated, and difficult to work with. On top of training, they need lots of enrichment, toys, and blocks to chew on. Plus, although their diet can be easy to acquire, it needs to be regulated properly in order to keep the bird's healthy. Yes, their beaks are made for breaking open nuts and seeds, but that does not mean it should be the majority of their diet. A nut/seed diet is way too fatty for any macaw, so their diet needs to include mostly pellets (preferably a good, high-quality pellet), and fruits and veggies as well.
All that being said though, I have found Green-winged macaws to be exceptionally snuggly, happy-go-lucky birds. They seem to build very strong relationships with "their people" and really enjoy both structured interactions and free playtime. I have also found though, that they are quick to communicate with their beaks. Body language is exceptionally important to watch with them, as they will only give you subtle signs before deciding to let you know with their beak that they are unhappy with the situation they are in. Giving them other ways of communicating with you (for example, being able to fly off you in an uncomfortable situation) is a great way for give them more confidence and prevent them from using their beak as a communication device. They are crazy fast learners, which can be both a good and bad thing, but either way will definitely keep you on your toes. They are definitely a really lovable, interactive species..
From rane4102 Dec 28 2014 6:53PM
My Dream Feathered Friend
I adopted Ferris from a rescue when he was approximately 20 years old. Considering these birds can live to be 120 years old, he was a teenager... And boy did he act like one! He was obnoxiously loud, he screeched when he was unhappy a and pouted by refusing to eat when he was upset. But I loved him with my whole heart. He was the bird I had dreamed off since I was a little girl and all in all, owning him was a great experience.
When I first brought him home, I was terrified of his HUGE beak. You don't realize just how giant these majestic birds are. He weighed around 3 pounds which doesn't sound like much, but this is a BIRD we are talking about! When he's perched on your arm you definitely know he's there!!
First the good - he was a snuggle-bug and would lay on my chest and preen my hair for hours. He would give kisses and walk across the living room to share whatever I was having for dinner. He said hello to my friends when they entered my home and he made me feel loved. I was special to him and he was to me.
Now the bad - getting him as an adult, and from a rescue, he had picked up a horrible screeching habit. The kind of screeching that would make your ears bleed. You could hear him down the block if the windows were open and it sounded like someone was getting stabbed in our house. No amount of working with him helped. It had become part of his personality. Also, at some point in his life he became very afraid of men. So my daughter and I could handle him but if my boys went anywhere near him, he would try to attack and bite their heads/face. Not a great thing when you have a little one running around (though kids learn pretty quickly to avoid the area if he's out of his cage!) My husband also made the mistake of trusting Ferris... Once. He picked him up from his tree stand topic him back onto his cage, and the unthinkable happened...
Ferris latched onto my husbands forearm and would NOT release. His beak entered both sides of my husbands arm and he had to fling Ferris to the ground to get him off (no one else was home). My husband ended up with nerve damage for almost a year but I can't imagine how much worse it could've been, especially if it would've been one of my boys.
Ferris wasn't as much a part of the family after that. He wasn't trusted to be out of his cage unless I was home and I worked a lot. So, in fairness to him, I rejoined him to a wonderful woman who works from home and lives alone. It broke my heart to see him go, and I still get sad every once in a while. But he is happy and well taken care of and he gave me tons of memories that I cherish..
From Mrsblank913 Apr 17 2014 6:52PM