Choosing a Yellow-collared Macaw
Yellow-collared macaws (Ara auricollis) are small green “mini” macaws hailing from South America. Inquisitive, mischievous and animated, mini macaws are lively boisterous birds and require generous living space. Yellow-collared macaws do speak but have limited ability to mimic. While they don’t enjoy handling as much as a blue and gold, they are delightful pets because of their outgoing personalities. They can live up to 30 to 40 years.
Appearance and Personality
Yellow-collared macaws are found in central South America from southern Brazil to northern Argentina. They inhabit a variety of forest types from moist subtropical forests of Argentina to dry forests in Bolivia. Yellow-collared macaws are similar in color to military macaws but have a chestnut colored forehead. The naked facial skin is white and has rows of black feather forming lines. The tail is long and tapered, and is maroon, green and blue.
Young hand-raised macaws are very adaptable and typically easily handled by many people. They must be socialized and exposed to a variety of experiences (veterinary visits, other pets, visitors, wing and nail trims, car rides, etc.) at a young age to avoid fearful behavior. Macaws can make excellent pets, although some have a tendency to become nippy. Mini macaws are not as loud as the large macaws.
Macaws are playful and love to chew. They should always be provided with toys, especially wooden blocks that can be chewed, and branches from non-toxic trees. In order to ensure safety, companion macaws should not be allowed unsupervised freedom in the home as they often encounter toxins or dangerous items.
All macaws need plenty of energy for good health. Many of their natural foods, especially palm nuts are rich in oils and calories. Macaws should be fed a formulated (pelleted or extruded) diet as a basis for good nutrition. The diet should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Feed approximately 1/4 cup formulated diet. Also offer 1/4 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables. Give one to two small nuts, such as almonds, as treats. Small amounts of seeds may also be given as treats especially as rewards for good behavior. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds that are eating a formulated diet.
Yellow-collared macaws are difficult to hand feed from a very early age. They require a high fat diet and do well with additional protein especially at a very young age. A small amount of peanut butter or ground sunflower seeds may be added to increase protein and fat levels.
Routine bathing or showering is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin condition. Birds can be misted and allowed to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or dried with a blow drier. An ideal way to bathe macaws is to put them in a cage outside, sprinkle them with the hose, and allow them to dry in the sun. Macaws are strong fliers. Most of the primary flight feathers (10 feathers closest to the tip of the wing) should be clipped to prevent flight. Clip only enough so the bird will glide to the floor.
Macaws are very active and should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allows. Macaws MUST be allowed space to fully extend their wings or muscle atrophy will occur rendering them unable to fly. As macaws are strong chewers, durable cage construction is very important. Many are also adept at opening cage latches. Locks or escape proof latches may be necessary on cages.
Macaws should have adequate space to move freely between two perches. Example of appropriate suspended cage size for yellow-collared macaws is 3 feet by 3 feet by 6 feet or 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet. Cages should be suspended 3 to 4 feet above the ground.
Cages for yellow-collared macaws must be constructed of strong wire, although they are not as able to chew cages as the large macaws (14 gauge welded wire, 1 inch by 1 inch works well).
Ideally pet macaws can also have a large cage outdoors for bathing and exercise.
Yellow-collared macaws breed fairly well 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 is 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.
Yellow-collared macaws like vertical wooden nest boxes approximately 12 inches by 12 inches by 24 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 lifelong.
Common Diseases and Disorders
Macaws are relatively healthy birds but are susceptible to the following:
- Proventricular Dilatation Disease (Macaw wasting disease)
- Feather picking
- Psittacosis (chlamydiosis)
- Bacterial, viral and fungal infections
- Constricted toe syndrome, chicks
- Chewing flight and tail feathers by juveniles
- Beak malformations – chicks
- Kidney Disease – gout
- Toxicity, heavy metal poisoning