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Breeding Your Macaw

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Breeding birds is not as simple as it sounds, and breeding your macaw is a decision that should only be made after a lot of research and talking with experienced breeders. To safeguard the health of your bird and his or her offspring, you need to be able to handle any situation you encounter.

Make sure you have the time and money necessary, as well as easy access to an experienced avian veterinarian. Also make sure you already have homes lined up for the new babies. If you are properly prepared, breeding can be a positive experience.

Breeding

If you want to breed your macaws, make sure they are mature and healthy. Breeding birds need to bond and get use to their surroundings. The birds must be well fed and their new spacious cage must be clean.

Most macaws are bred regularly in captivity. Breeding season is usually in spring and early summer, although some pairs will breed almost year round. Clutch size is usually two to four eggs but sometimes more. Incubation period ranges from 23 to 27 days. Some additional high fat seeds, like sunflower seed, should be added to the diet during the breeding season to stimulate reproduction. Inexperienced hand feeders should allow the parents to feed for the first few weeks.

Nest Box

Large horizontal wooden boxes (approximately 24 inches by 24 inches by 36 inches or 48 inches) are well accepted by large macaws while some will breed well in a vertical wooden box (approximately 12 inches by 12 inches by 36 inches). Macaws should be provided with plentiful chewing material. Pine shavings make excellent nest box bedding.

When breeding macaws, noise and proximity to neighbors must be considered. Mate aggression is uncommon in macaws. Pair bonds are strong but not necessarily life long.

Care of Chicks

You will need to check the nesting box every day to make sure the chicks are being fed properly. Offer fresh food and plenty of water daily. If the parents care for their young, you will not have to worry too much. However, first time or inexperienced parents may not care for their young, and you have to care for them.

Hand-rearing chicks takes time and the right equipment. You may need to place them in an incubator and hand feed them every 2 hours (commercial diets are available, to which you just add water). The feeding technique is not difficult to learn, but you should have your avian veterinarian show you how to do it properly. This is a critical period in the life of the new birds and it is during this time you may encounter a high rate of complications and mortality.

Soon the new chicks will slowly start to pick at smaller (cracked) seeds you offer. Once you are sure they can eat by themselves, it is time to separate the chicks, some sooner than others, from the parents and start the taming the process.

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