Greenwing Macaw

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Is the Greenwing Macaw right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Red-and-green Macaw; Green Wing Macaw; Green Winged Macaw; Green-winged Macaw

Scientific name: Ara chloroptera

The basics:
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.)

Average size:
90 centimeters (35 in.)

50+ years

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

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