Species group: Macaws
Other common names: Blue-winged Macaw
Scientific name: Primolius maracana
The Illiger's Macaw isn't as well-known as some of the other mini macaws, but it's well-regarded among the more knowledgeable as a sweet-natured, playful parrot with a lot of personal charm. They gained a small amount of publicity during the time when the last surviving wild Spix's Macaw, a male, chose to associate with a female Illiger's Macaw.
This mini macaw ranges through eastern Brazil and into Paraguay and northern Argentina, often traveling in pairs or small flocks, and taking care to fly along tree-lined areas rather than out in the open. Although there hasn't been legal trade in Brazilian birds since the 1960s, the Illiger's Macaw seems to have been affected by illegal trapping, and there are reports that it may be extirpated in some of its former sites in Argentina. Since they seem to feel more secure near trees, then deforestation may also be a problem for these birds.
A green mini-macaw with a bright red forehead and red belly.
265 grams (9.3 oz.)
Average size: 43 centimeters (17 in.)
40 - 50 years
Behavior / temperament:
The Illiger's Macaw can be a great choice for someone who wants the macaw personality in a smaller package. This adaptable mini macaw 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 Illiger's 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. These birds do have a strong pair bond, heavily dependent on love and attention, so if you cannot devote the time to spend with your Illiger's Macaw every day, then you should probably consider a different pet.
A good minimum sized primary cage for the Illiger's 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. Even a mini macaw is not a cheap date.
It is very important with Illiger's 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 Illiger's 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.
The Illiger's 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. Mini 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 Illiger's 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 Illiger's 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 Illiger's 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
socializing, good choice, new feathered friend
rarer minimacaws, bare facial patches
Rosy Wasn't As Rosy As I Thought
Rosy was my childhood parrot. For the longest time, I thought she was a family bird, but then I heard the view point of the rest of my family. They all said that she was definitely just my bird. I suppose that I thought that she was as nice and loving to everyone else as she was to me, even though I do have a memory of her taking a chunk out of my Dad's hands. That was the only negative thing that I noticed her do. I'll start out with how I saw dear Rosy.
She was exceptionally close to me. If I was home, then I was spending my time with her. She snuggled up in my hair while I did homework, sat on my shoulder when I watched t.v., she would have eaten with me if my Mom allowed it and her house was taken outside and put where she could see me if I was outside. Her wings were not clipped, so she couldn't be out of the cage when she was outside. If she was outside of her cage when I got home after school, she would yell "You're home! You're home!" and fly to me.
She knew many, many songs. The normal ones that little kids sing a lot, The ABC's, Happy Birthday, Ring Around the Rosy, et cetera. Rosy also knew my name, said "I love you", "How was your day?", "Hi!", "Hello!" and so much more. Her singing "Happy Birthday" at my birthday party was always the highlight of the day. I remember playing dolls and tea time with her. We would chat the day away as much as a child and a bird can chat. She meant the world to me.
Then the day came when my brother set her loose. We were all outside, enjoying ourselves in and around the pool. Then I went in to get something to drink. I heard a commotion outside and rush out to see what was wrong. That was when I saw it: Rosy's empty cage with the door wide open.
She had flown to a tree in the neighbors house. My parents tried everything they could to get her back and she stuck around for a while. I was so sure that she would get sick of being outside and come back to me, but she didn't. Flying free must have just been too wonderful. Even her little girl could call her back.
Later on, I was so sure that I had spotted her in the mass of Illiger's Macaws at the San Diego Zoo, but that was most likely wishful hoping. I don't know where Rosy ended up, but I hope that she had a wonderful life. Who knows, maybe she's still out there.
As for my family; I found out years and years later that none of them liked her. She wouldn't let them have anything to do with her and, as I mentioned above, took a big hunk of flesh out of my Dad's hands one of the times that he was trying to help my Mom clip her talons. It also turns out that my brother had let her go on purpose because he didn't like her. He confessed this to me not long ago and said that he sincerely felt bad after he saw how much it upset me. It just goes to show how blinded one can be to the point of view of others. I didn't have a clue before they told me.
So, from my experience, these Macaws are a one person bird and tend to be jealous, but they are so loving to their person. She never once harmed me in any way or made me feel uneasy around her. They have a very long lifespan (around 50 years), so, if Rosy hadn’t been released, she would very likely still be with me today and could still be alive somewhere..
From DeDoubleU Mar 2 2015 10:01PM
Illiger's Macaws are on the move!
Illiger's Macaws are one of the rarer mini-macaws available in aviculture today. One of the most distinguishing identifiers of an Illiger's for novice bird owners is the fact that their bare facial patches appear "yellowed" when compared against those of other mini-macaws. They are very active birds who are Conure-like in that they love to be out of their cages socializing with the family - they want to be where the action is! They are a good choice for owners who intend to provide a lot of out of cage time but whose days are not necessarily predictable, as long as your new feathered friend can be included somehow. Like the big guys, they can get loud and destructive, so it's important to do your research before adding a macaw of any size to your family..
From enborgle Aug 15 2012 7:07PM