Military Macaw

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Is the Military Macaw right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Green Macaw

Scientific name: Ara militaris

The basics:
The handsome green Military Macaw has become highly regarded as an affectionate, intelligent macaw that can become tightly bonded to its owner. They may be somewhat easier to handle than the more challenging macaw species, but they still have the same instincts as any other macaw, and you should be prepared to bring all of your best parrot training skills.

A well-socialized Military Macaw can perform tricks, speak a few words, and provide hours of companionship. However, it is not impossible for a poorly managed Military Macaw to pick up bad habits like aggressive biting or screaming. Don't choose a Military Macaw thinking that you can short-change the bird on time and training.

There are three distinct subspecies of the Military Macaw, with populations ranging from Mexico down to the east slope of the Andes as far south as Argentina. If you decide to move your pet into a breeding program you will need to investigate which subspecies you hold, so that you can provide the proper mate. Otherwise, it's worth noting that this highly adaptable species can range far afield and has been found in a variety of different canyon and mountain environments, from 500 to 3,000 meters. By day, the bird is usually seen in pairs or in small flocks, but they can congregate at huge nighttime roosts in cliffsides or in their favorite trees. Unfortunately, like the other popular macaws, this species has been over-trapped for the pet trade and is now rated as "vulnerable."

A somewhat smaller version of the Great Green Macaw. You may notive that blue-tipped tail is browny-red in the Military Macaw and more of a bright red-orange in the Great Green.

900 grams (32 oz.)

Average size:
70 centimeters (27.5 in.)

50+ years

Behavior / temperament:
Many people rank the Military Macaw as an especially trainable, intelligent species that can learn to be a marvelous one-person bird who wants to spend plenty of time with you. The birds are not normally nervous or phobic. However, you must properly socialize your pet, so that you don't ruin its naturally even temper. 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. Be aware that macaws with a strong pair bond sometimes engage in biting behavior during the breeding season, and learn the techniques for recognizing when your macaw might be prompted to bite so that you can distract your pet from the behavior before it begins. While no macaw is classed in the same category of talkers as the Greys or the Amazons, the Military Macaw can certainly learn to say at least a few words, and you may be surprised at how quickly your pet picks up those words, so choose your vocabulary wisely.

A single Military 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 Military 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. Although not considered to be a classic diva like a Scarlet Macaw, a Military 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 Military 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, even a Military 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.

I have also seen aviary Military Macaws who were taught naughty words by the passerby, who knew that the owner of the fast-learning birds was out of hearing. You have been warned.

Like the other macaws, the Military 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 Military 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 Military 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


trick training, good mimicking ability, beautiful birds, charmer, highly intelligent bird


expensive macaw, Feather Plucking Mess, incredibly loud vocalizations, one-owner kinda macaw


box brooding, extra cage space, positive reinforcement, intellectual stimulation, open enclosure

Military Macaw Health Tip

Military Macaw

From Mar 31 2014 12:40AM


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