Macaw Tips

Perch arrangement:

Good solid perches should be positioned at both ends of the flight and directly in front of the nest box. The nest box perch gives the birds easy access to the nest. These perches should be hard wood making them difficult to destroy, so that frequent replacement is not necessary.
Other perches of soft wood can be included for the birds to chew as well as some lumber. However, be very careful with the placement of these perches. They must not block the center of the flight. The birds should be able to fly from one end to the other without stopping unless the flights are very large. The soft wood perches should also be placed in areas that are easy to access, so that they can be replaced before they fall. Macaws have been crippled and killed when their mates chewed through branches that fell on them.
The main perches should be branches with dips and raises in them. If the branches are straight they should be placed so that one end is elevated. The male will stand on a high spot while the pair copulates. The birds seem to prefer this position so it might affect the fertility of the eggs.

The diet of a Macaw is unlike the diet of most other parrots. This is where aviculturists often go wrong with them. It has been well publicized that they need more fat in their diet and this can be offered to the birds in many forms. Macadamia nuts are about the best food for this purpose. Here in the United States we seldom have difficulty obtaining macadamia nuts. However, many of my friends in Europe seem to have some trouble finding them. Macadamia nut oil is normally sold in gourmet food stores and is an acceptable substitute, if it is cold pressed. The oil can be poured over fresh food or soaked into bread and then offered to the birds. Brazil nuts are also a favorite. However, they are frequently filled with fungus and smell rank, so I feed them in small quantities and carefully inspect each nut after cutting it open with a macadamia nut cracker. Only then will I give them to any of my birds.
Walnuts have omega 3 fatty acids and are a very nutritious nut. Unfortunately, as with the Brazil nuts, I find many that are rancid. So, they are also given in limited numbers and inspected in the same way as the Brazil nuts. Walnuts also contain volatile oils that aggravate pancreatitis. I am aware of one Macaw that developed this and this was a bird that ate a minimum of 10 walnuts a day. For this reason some aviculturists will not feed their birds any walnuts. Filberts are high in calcium, which is a mineral that Macaws need in higher quantities than most other parrots. Almonds are even higher in calcium than filberts, but they contain oxalic acid, which binds calcium and thus decreases its absorption. Pistachios are high in vitamin A compared to other nuts. I give these to my birds as treats several times a day.
Coconuts are another beneficial high fat food. Coconuts are a seasonal food, although they may be available all year. When shopping for coconuts out of season I find that many of them are spoiled. An alternative is canned coconut milk, which can be poured over or mixed into fruits and vegetables to encourage finicky eaters to consume a healthier diet. Birds that have not had coconut milk before may be suspicious when they see this creamy white liquid covering their food, so I recommend offering small amounts until the birds taste it and then it normally becomes a favorite food. Coconut milk can be frozen after the can is opened, which is important since it will spoil quickly. Ground nuts can also be sprinkled on fresh foods to encourage good eating habits.
It was once believed that in the wild, Hyacinths ate only one or two different types of nuts. Although their diet is limited, they have now been observed eating at least seven different types of food. Joanne Abramson had two of their favorite nuts analyzed. Both the bocaiuva and acuri palm nuts contained over 50 per cent total fat and less that 12 per cent protein. The complete analysis can be found in her book The Large Macaws.
Not long ago, Macaws were normally fed diets that were too low in fat and that were appropriate for an Amazon. Now I see too many Macaws that are nut junkies. They are fed a diet that consists of only Brazil and macadamia nuts. Hens on an all nut diet will begin to lay soft-shelled eggs and can become egg bound. So, it is imperative to continue to feed foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals like sweet potatoes, leafy greens and pellets.