Species group: Macaws
Other common names: Green Macaw
Scientific name: Ara militaris
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.)
70 centimeters (27.5 in.)
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
"Sir, Yes Sir!" :)
Sarge was my husbands Military Macaw (Parrot) prior to us meeting. Thank Goodness! I couldn't imagine having to clean that cage! We're talking a 6' by 3' round cage that needs to be cleaned and lined with newspaper daily! Sarge was 21/2 by 3 ft. long. My husband adopted Sarge at a very young age, (about 3 yrs. old). Now, these beautiful exotic birds require a lot of attention and love, so if you have a busy schedule, this is not the pet for you! Parrots can be very loving and they attach easily to their owner(s)/ trainer(s). They require a lot of nurturing and it takes at least a month for both owner(s)/trainer(s), and the bird to start becoming familiar with each other. After work my husband would come home, let Sarge out of his cage, so that he could walk around and spend time with the family. When you are home, these birds like to leave the cage to spend as much time with you as possible. My husband would spend at least 2 hrs. a day training him, and come bedtime he would cover the cage so that Sarge would quiet down for the night and everyone could get some sleep, including the neighbors! These are very loud birds and are best living in a single family dwelling vs an apt.
The size of this bird can be very intimidating, but in reality, are very gentle, loving animals and it takes very patient and loving owner(s)/(trainer(s), to teach these birds how to interact with people appropriately. Animals are known to take on their owners personality's, and if you are mean, impatient and/ or neglectful towards the bird, it will be mean and possibly nasty towards you out of fear. As with any animal, always be kind, gentle, and patient and the reward will be great for both you and your pet. Children under the age of 10 should be supervised when in the company of any large bird with extremely large beaks. If they can crack a nut, they can snap a finger very easily! Children 10 and up should be introduced to the bird slowly and until the bird and the child become very comfortable/familiar with each other, adult supervision is recommended.
Military Macaws are basically pretty healthy birds with proper care and a trip to the vet every now and then to make sure everything is "A" okay. These birds can be very expensive, so always keep their wings clipped so they don't fly away. These birds can be left alone for no more than 2 day's along with adequate food and water to last until you get home, and you must keep the cage uncovered risking disturbing others. This is why I recommend a single family home for this type of pet. If you must be gone for more than 2 day's, I recommend taking them to a qualified, reputable, boarding facility, or what is best in my opinion, have a friend or family member you trust, and is familiar with your parrot and visa-versa, to stay at your home and watch your beloved pet. This way your Macaw is happy and comfortable at home in his own cage with familiar surroundings, and with someone that is familiar with your birds needs and routine. This helps your Macaw to stay calm, happy, and not traumatized by temporary new surroundings and unfamiliar faces.
These birds can live to be 100 yrs. of age so be prepared to buy a lot of bird seed! Also, make sure you have someone in mind that you can trust to leave your beautiful Macaw with if the unthinkable happens to you. They eat regular bird seed weather it's loose or in the shape of a bell, and love, love getting treats. As always, watch the treat intake, too much of a good thing could end up to be a bad thing very quickly! Make sure their water and food containers are cleaned and filled daily. They love to play, so a swing and some other toys in the cage helps to amuse your Macaw while your away. Here's a funny story. Remember when I mentioned above how loud these birds can get? My husband was moving into an apt. complex and was asked if he had any pets. He said yes, I have a bird. The manager then asked, is it in a cage? My husband replied yes it is. OK, no problem. He paid what was due and received the keys to his new apt. The following month when my husband came in to pay his rent, the manager asked, so how big is this bird you have? When my husband informed her of Sarge's size, she couldn't believe it! My husband couldn't even describe the look on her face. In my opinion "SHOCK" would have been a fair description! She was thrilled to know Sarge was kept in a cage, and finally found the "BIRD" responsible for all the phone calls she had received concerning a very loud bird somewhere on the premises. Again, this is why I recommend a single family home preferably out in the country if possible. All in all, they actually had a good laugh about the whole thing, but I guarantee you, as a retired property manager myself, I'll bet the next time someone came in and applied for an apt. and told her they have a bird and yes it's in a cage, I guarantee she asked to see the bird prior to approval!
Eventually, life got busier for my husband,(working longer hours etc.), which cut down on the time he was able to spend with Sarge. Because of this reason, he gave Sarge to a family with 4 kids that just loved him, and Sarge felt the same way about them. This is what I mean about familiarity, just in case something happens. It hurt my husband to give him away, but he knew it was the best thing to do for his beloved Macaw..
From WingsOfWisdom Mar 31 2014 12:40AM
The only bird I have owned (besides a couple of finches) is General JJ the Military Macaw. He was probably the meanest bird I have ever met. He enjoyed chasing children around and yelling profanity at them (my brother taught him dirty words), and he even used to mess with the dogs, telling them to sit, stay, and kennel up (they actually listened to him!).
I would only recommend a Macaw of any kind to a person who has experience with birds. Children shouldn't be around these birds unsupervised because they could lose limbs. These birds need to be trained by people with experience, otherwise they are intelligent enough to rule your life..
From AlexandraMileto Feb 7 2013 1:04PM