Hyacinth Macaw Care Sheet

Hyacinth Macaws can make absolutely wonderful pets, but they’re certainly not the easiest birds to look after and they are a huge commitment in every way. This Hyacinth Macaw care sheet should cover everything you need to know to handle the day-to-day care of your macaw, but more information is never a bad thing. This is especially true for something as complex and demanding as Hyacinth Macaw care!

As such, there are a couple of books that we recommend you buy before you get a pet Hyacinth Macaw. The first is dedicated entirely to Hyacinth Macaw care, making it the ultimate go-to resource: Hyacinth Macaw – Hyacinth Macaws as pets by Roger Rodendale. The other book covers macaw care in general, and with over 200 pages it’s pretty comprehensive: A Guide to Macaws as Pet and Aviary Birds 2015 by Rick Jordan and Mark Moore.

Hyacinth Macaw Size

Hyacinth Macaw

Picture by Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr

If you’re looking for a small bird, look elsewhere! Hyacinth Macaws are huge, with a beak-to-tail-tip length of around 40″ (100cm) and a wingspan of 48″. This makes them the longest parrot in the world, and the largest except for the much heavier (but flightless) New Zealand kakapo.

Hyacinth Macaws boast formidable beaks that have evolved to crack open even the toughest of nuts. Not much will stand up to a sustained onslaught by a Hyacinth Macaw!

Hyacinth Macaw Lifespan

The average captive Hyacinth Macaw can be expected to live for around 60 years, although many will easily surpass that. 80 years is not an uncommon life span.

Hyacinth Macaws reach breeding age at around seven years old, although this varies from bird to bird.

Hyacinth Macaw Cage

One of the most difficult aspects of Hyacinth Macaw care is finding a suitable cage. In fact, a cage may well not be the ideal solution for many people anyway.

The problem is that a large bird requires a very large housing area, especially for a species that needs so much exercise and so many things to play with. Very few commercial cages will be large enough – a Hyacinth Macaw cage needs to be huge. These birds also have a habit of breaking out of and/or thoroughly destroying most cages. Their beaks are strong enough to snap a broomstick in one go, so most cages just aren’t sturdy enough.

You could buy one of the very largest commercially available cages (or have one custom made), but it needs to meet certain requirements. It should be a bare minimum of 46″x36″x72″ tall. If the cage is any smaller, your macaw might not have room to flap around and could get its wing tips stuck between the bars of the cage, which may cause injury. A dome top cage is best (as they provide the most room), but a play top cage can work fine too.

The bars should be welded in place (or else the cage won’t survive for long) and the bars should be appropriately spaced. A Hyacinth Macaw cage should include plenty of wooden branches and toys to chew that will need to be replaced regularly. The cage must be large enough to fit at least a couple of large perches or toys without getting in the way of your macaw flapping its wings.

Locking doors are an essential feature in a cage for such intelligent birds (you might need a padlock in the end anyway), along with secured food bowls, secured grates and a cage apron – Hyacinth Macaws love to play with their food!

Any Hyacinth Macaw cage you choose should be made of stainless steel. This is a big investment as these cages can be very expensive, but nothing else can stand up to those enormous beaks and the macaw’s destructive tendencies. A stainless steel macaw cage is a good investment in the long run – the costs of regularly replacing an inferior cage will seriously add up over a 60-80 year life span!

Your macaw will chew the bars. Stainless steel bird cages avoid the risk of your macaw ingesting potentially harmful paint chips as a result.

If I had to buy a new cage online today, I’d go for the Mauna Kea Mansion Stainless Steel Bird Cage. The A and E Cage Co. Stainless Steel Double Macaw Bird Cage might also work if you remove the divider. The Rainforest Refuge Stainless Steel Bird cage is significantly cheaper and might just about be big enough. They’re all very expensive, but they will last.

If those cages are too much money, then honestly I’d suggest reconsidering buying a Hyacinth Macaw until you can afford it. Nothing about keeping these birds is cheap. The best cages I can find online at a much lower price point are the Prevue Pet Products Silverado Macaw Dometop Cage or the Mauna Kea Mansion Bird Cage Platinum Dome Top. They’re big enough, but they’re not made of stainless steel. You’d probably have to replace either of them quite a few times.

Even better than a large stainless steel cage would be an entire room of the house or other bird-proofed area. I hope you’ve got lots of space available, because you’re going to need it! Even Hyacinth Macaws that have had their feathers trimmed need plenty of room to flap around and climb.

In conclusion, a dedicated room is the best housing option for your Hyacinth Macaw, but a very large stainless steel bird cage that meets the specific requirements above will also work nicely. Nothing else is likely to be good enough in the long run.

Hyacinth Macaw Diet

In the wild, a Hyacinth Macaw’s main food would be palm nuts, generally taken from just two species of palm. Wild macaws often search for pre-digested palm nuts in cow dung – they’re so hard that they pass straight through the cow’s digestive system, but they’re easier for the macaws to crack afterwards.

Now finding those specific types of palm nut after they’ve passed through a cow isn’t very easy for most of us, so you’ll need a slightly different approach to feed your macaw.

Instead of palm nuts, you should feed your Hyacinth Macaw a variety of other nuts, including macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, cashews, coconut, filberts/hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. Buying in bulk is strongly recommended – it will save you a lot of money in the long run! A Hyacinth Macaw’s beak is strong enough to break any of these open, including the coconut! (Although it’s probably better to pre-chop the coconut.)

You might notice that this diet is very high in fat, but Hyacinth Macaws have evolved to be exceptionally good at metabolizing fats – you won’t find an obese Hyacinth Macaw anywhere! They also need more carbohydrates than most parrots.

Leafy greens, fruit and veg should also be fed daily. Hyacinth Macaws do have to eat their greens, but they may need encouragement to do so. You’ll often find them cheerfully throwing this sort of food all over the place, so try to feed them less if that happens. It’s counterintuitive, but it seems to work – with less food available, they eat what’s there!

High quality seed mixes and pellets can contribute to a balanced diet too, although they shouldn’t form the basis of one. Hyacinth Macaws have very specific dietary requirements, and nuts are always very important.

Ideally your macaw cage would have three securely attached bowls – one for water, one for nuts and one for pellets and fresh greens.

Any moist or raw food that hasn’t been eaten after a couple of hours should be removed to avoid bacterial growth. Fruits should be pitted as Hyacinth Macaws will be able to crack the stones open, and some of them contain harmful substances. The same applies for apples – remove the core first. Dry fruit mixes can be useful, but they mustn’t contain any salt or sugar or other additives.

Supplements shouldn’t be necessary if you provide a healthy, varied and balanced diet for your macaw.

Water for Hyacinth Macaws

Your macaws should always have a stainless steel bowl of water available. The water should be changed once or twice per day, or whenever it appears dirty.

Temperature/Lighting/Humidity

Despite being exotic tropical birds, Hyacinth Macaws do well in most environments. They do not need extra heating, extra humidity or specific light cycles unless you live in an extreme environment or normally have a very cold house.

Sharing a Cage/House

Pair of Hyacinth Macaws preening

Photo by Donna Sullivan-Thomson on Flickr

Hyacinth Macaws are very sociable and gregarious creatures. They can be perfectly happy without any feathered companions, and going without will make them bond even more quickly and strongly to their owner. But of course this requires you to spend even more time with them if you don’t want them to become lonely and depressed, a very serious problem for such intelligent birds.

Other bird species can also be kept in the same house as Hyacinth Macaws, but perhaps unsurprisingly these exotic birds tend to get on best with other New World parrots.

Hyacinth Macaw Noise and Vocalizations

These are very noisy birds! Hyacinth Macaws are capable of producing a wide range of sounds, from deep growls to loud screeches and high trills to a surprising purr. Keeping a Hyacinth Macaw in an apartment would be difficult – most neighbours won’t be happy to put up with that much noise! It will be even worse if you have a pair of macaws, as being kept together only makes them louder.

Hyacinth Macaws are not the best talkers of the parrot world, but they will learn a few words and phrases. They’re intelligent enough to understand exactly when these words should be used as well, and some will delightedly take every opportunity to show off their linguistic abilities.

Playing

Hyacinth Macaws love to play! You’ll need to provide lots of toys, all ideally made of strong wood or leather if you want them to last long. But even the sturdiest of toys will be destroyed sooner or later – nothing can escape that beak forever! Chewable toys are actually great for a Hyacinth Macaw’s physical health as well as mental health, as playing with them helps to keep the jaws and beak strong.

A solid play gym will be crucial, and your macaw should be free to play on it for at least two hours a day. This is necessary to maintain muscles, and it’s great fun too! Anything you buy commercially (like the one linked above) will need adapting to survive a Hyacinth Macaw. For instance I’d be surprised if the perch in that one lasts for more than an hour. Large play trees that can easily be replaced are excellent too. Again, none of these things are likely to last as long as you’d like.

You also have to be surprisingly careful with such a large strong bird. Some of the danger comes from the macaw’s own strength and playful nature – they will investigate anything and everything, from power sockets to medicine cabinets. Make sure they don’t get into anything they shouldn’t.

Another risk comes with small toys designed for smaller birds. These pose a choking hazard and should not be used with Hyacinth Macaws.

Rope toys are fantastic, but don’t leave your macaw alone with them if there’s any risk of the rope fraying or coming undone. Accidents may be rare, but too many parrots have died through accidental hanging or strangulation from an old rope toy.

Hyacinth Macaw Behavior and Temperament

Hyacinth Macaw playing with owner

Photo by Leonard Silver on Flickr

Fortunately Hyacinth Macaws are generally quite easygoing birds, and they have a reputation as being ‘gentle giants’. They’re certainly highly affectionate and form very strong bonds with their owners, but they also love to play, and that’s not always gentle! Even a playful nip from a beak like that is going to hurt.

Hyacinth Macaws are easy to train through a combination of time, bonding and positive reinforcement.

Time is the crucial factor when it comes to a Hyacinth Macaw’s behavior – the more time you spend with your macaw, the happier he/she will be. They’re very needy creatures and will demand huge amounts of time. If you have any doubts as to whether you have enough free time, then a Hyacinth Macaw is not going to be the right bird for you.

A neglected Hyacinth Macaw may become cranky and neurotic. This can lead to even more screeching than usual and self-destructive tendencies like feather plucking. The need to spend lots of time with your macaw cannot be overstated.

Hyacinth Macaw Health

The most common health problem for Hyacinth Macaws is an overgrown beak. This is one of the reasons why chewable toys are so important! Make sure you always have some on hand.

Other things to watch out for include psittacosis, papillomas and macaw wasting disease aka proventricular dilatation disease. You should find a good avian exotic vet and get your macaw regular check-ups.

Buying a Hyacinth Macaw

Pet Blue Macaw

Image by Seth J on Flickr

A single Hyacinth Macaw is likely to cost you several hundred dollars at the very least, with some birds selling for thousands. A proven pair of Hyacinth Macaws (i.e. a pair that have previously produced chicks) will fetch by far the highest price of all.

You won’t often find Hyacinth Macaws for sale in your average large pet store because of the costs involved and the relatively low demand – a lot more people buy hamsters than parrots! But it’s not hard to find macaws for sale online or through local contacts. You do need to be absolutely certain that your macaw was bred in captivity by a responsible breeder. Buying a wild-caught Hyacinth Macaw is illegal and could lead to a very large fine and/or jail time, not to mention risking the future of this wonderful but endangered bird.

The decision to buy a Hyacinth Macaw is not to be taken lightly. They’re expensive birds, and the cage and general upkeep will cost even more. Your macaw should be with you for the rest of your life and you will form an incredibly close bond – but only if you’ve got the time to give these beautiful birds the love and attention they need.

Whether you’re still undecided or you’ve made up your mind, it’s a good idea to bookmark this Hyacinth Macaw care sheet so that you’ve always got something to refer back to. Buying either of the books linked at the top of the page will help enormously as well. Good luck!