Species group: Macaws
Other common names: Chestnut-fronted Macaw
Scientific name: Ara severus
Like the other mini macaws, Severe Macaws are admired for having the intelligent, social macaw personality in a smaller, easier-to-handle package. A well-socialized pet can be self-confident and able to approach anyone, and these vocal mini macaws do have the potential to learn a few words.
This mini macaw has a wide range from the Darien in Panama throughout much of northern South America up to 1,500 meters, although it may be absent from much of the actual Amazon River basin in that area. This highly adaptable, highly gregarious species is easily located in many areas near forest edge or clearing -- just follow your ear -- and they may actually benefit some from selected logging or clearing in some areas, since they are tolerant of human activities. Severe Macaws flying in to a nighttime roost are a sight worth seeing, especially from underneath, where you can appreciate the rich color on the underwings.
The Severe Macaw is not the best name for this good-looking mini macaw. The alternate name, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, better captures the wonderful blend of green and chestnut that you see when this bird takes flight or perches in the right light.
307 - 387 grams (11 - 13.5 oz.)
46 centimeters (18 in.)
30 - 40 years
Behavior / temperament:
The Severe Macaw does not have a stern or severe personality. A properly socialized bird is a true charmer, small enough to be cute and endearing, yet large enough to give you the full force of the macaw personality. They are extremely social by nature and they form strong bonds with their humans. Severe Macaws enjoy playing with ropes to swing on, toys, and lots of wood to chew, which prevents them from becoming destructive when bored. They are intelligent, silly, and active. They can be great comics as they love to climb, explore, and hang upside down, chatting and squawking often.
A quick tip: If a hormonal, tightly bonded Severe Macaw starts to bite its favorite person during the breeding season, be aware that some macaws have a natural instinct to bite a mate to drive it out of sight when a rival appears. If someone else is about to enter the room when you're playing with your macaw, distract the bird with something chewy to keep its beak busy. The more you study your bird's behavior, the better you can prevent problems like screaming or biting before they ever arise.
A good minimum sized primary cage for the Severe 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 a Severe 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 Severe 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. They are highly social parrots that have a pair bond, flying with their mate or in small flocks by day, yet returning to a busy communal roost at night, so do not expect this bird to be happy if forced to spend long hours alone.
Like the other South American macaws, the Severe 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 Severe 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 Severe 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, including the Severe Macaw, 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 Severe 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
flashy, cute, best bird companions, pretty bird
ouch, Biting, ear piercing screams, screaming, upkeep, Attack Parrot
sleep talk, medium sized parrots
does not like to be told no and will bite. does not like to go to bed and will bite. wants constant scratching of head and will bite if you stop. rarely cuddles. thinks its cute to bite and will let you know she is going to bite by screaming ouch first. will scream ear piercing screams because she wants something and you have to figure out what she wants. if you do not figure it out she will bite. she screams for a drink of water that is sitting 12 inches away. what does she want? you have to move the dish over to her. i think she is extremely spoiled which is my fault. she doesnot do this with my husband. only me. i still love her. i have been trying to get her to say i love you for 20 years. when i say i love you she bites me. she also laughs hystericaly every time she bites me.
From carol gelfand May 6 2010 6:54PM
Zollie the Severe Macaw Is a Song and Dance Man
My father has a true affinity for birds, and this has led to his home becoming a bird foster destination. Among the birds who have come to stay with him is Zollie, a Severe Macaw who was raised as the primary companion of a woman who desperately wanted children, cared for him just as if he were a baby for nearly two years, and then discovered she was to be a mother to a real live human. As the due date arrived, Zollie's owner became increasingly nervous that this beautiful bird who was completely devoted to her might pose a threat to the baby. I cannot call this fear unfounded as babies are fragile and even small macaws have powerful jaws (there's almost a song in that last phrase).
Hearing of my father's way with winged beings, this lady called to ask if he would be willing to take Zollie off her shoulders and willing he was. In the beginning, Zollie was hurt and confused, having been totally committed to his friendship with his previous owner, but soon he warmed up. Of all the people he could have chosen to focus on, though, he chose me, and this is bizarre because, though I think birds are lovely, I am not the mostly likely in my family to carry one on my shoulder.
Quickly, Zollie snagged a piece of my heart. What I learned very quickly is that Zollie likes music, and this works well for me because I love to sing and dance. I really do, and I don't even care if I am good at it. That's one of the great things about Zollie: He doesn't care if I am good at it either! Yea, Zollie!
Whenever I sing to Zollie, he perks up and then begins to sway, or jump, or jive, his head bobbing in time. Moving from side to side, he's a regular Cab Calloway as he calls, "Sing It! Sing It!" And I'll admit I beam under his attention. Among his favorites songs are "Heart of Glass" by Blondie, "Li'l Egypt," a song I learned from watching Elvis movies on long Sunday afternoons when I was a kid, and "Fever" by Peggy Lee. What is really cool about his song and dance verve is that he always chooses the right steps and keeps a swingin' beat.
With all this adoration brimming in me for Zollie, I have to say that macaws are birds with serious commitment concerns. Prone to bonding to one person, they also live to be quite old, up to 30years, are expensive to care for, require veterinarian care from bird-friendly specialists, and need plenty of run around time. Although they are often happy to perch for a lot of the day, 2-4 hours of free time is a must, and so people in confined spaces with little time to supervise flight time should think twice about bringing a macaw home, even one of the fun-sized variety (about 18 inches long). For those who can commitment to providing the best habitat, plenty of roam time, premium foods (including SOME fruits, vegetables, and nuts), and adequate health care, Severe Macaws are affectionate and fun choices for new buddies..
From Nolaerus Feb 22 2014 12:15PM
One day my wife and I had gone to a flea market just to see what was available. Suddenly I heard this loud voice holler "Pepper". I went to see where it was coming from and there sat this beautiful bird on a perch in his cage. We hit it off and soon he came out of his cage as the door was opened and climbed on top of the cage and jumped to my shoulder.
Well it was love at first site, or so I thought. i was soon giving the money for the bird and his cage and took him to show him off to my wife. She liked him too, so we left soon after as we wanted to get him home. For about 3 days all was well and we thought we had the perfect bird for our home.
Around this time, Pepper seemed to get comfortable with his new home and new owners. There was a sudden change in the bird as he took charge. He could be sweet and loving but other times he became very demanding. When he wanted something he would yell at the top of his vocal capacity. Sometime he wanted out and other times he wanted to be left alone. When he didn't want to be messed with he began to hiss like a cat. He would walk back and forth across his bar and hiss before he would turn.
He soon crossed path's with my wife and apparently she kept telling him to shut up. He soon would say shut up and then whistle as loud as he could. I thought it was funny but my wife would become very agitated with him. She tried to cover his cage with a towel but he would soon get a claw through the cage and yank his cover off. To keep the peace I tried to take him to my home office but he still would get on my wife's nerves.
We had a small retail store t the time and I soon tried to take him there. Soon he was annoying some of the lady workers. I think he had a dislike for women as he didn't do that around me or when I had a man working in the store.
In the best interest of all I eventually sold the bird to a new owner and peace was restored but I found an emptiness in Pepper moving on. For me he was the perfect bird, even though our relationship was on his terms!.
From BSmith1222 May 27 2015 9:50AM