Getting a parrot as distinctive as a macaw comes with a range of questions. Besides, these are truly exotic birds. Beautifully colored, easily recognizable, and impressive on the eye. Many prospective new owners want to know how long they typically live, especially when kept in captivity. I spent some time researching the various species of macaw and their own lifespan expectations. I’ll be sharing all the information I found in this reference guide today.
So, how long do macaws live? The average lifespan of a macaw is between 30 and 50 years, although it does differ and depend on the species. There are some species that have been reported to live for over a century. Either way, you should expect a significant commitment if you decide to take a macaw, of any species, into your home.
Of all the New World Parrots, macaws are known for sticking around for quite some time. It is not uncommon for these resilient birds to outlive their owners by some time.
As such getting a macaw is quite the undertaking; from the initial setup to the prolonged and continued care that is going to be required.
Let us now take a closer look at the average lifespan of macaw species.
We’ll also be looking at the reasons why they generally have the lifespan they do and proactive ways to ensure that you can ensure your macaw reaches their life expectancy.
So, be sure to keep reading if you are serious about taking on one of these magnificent birds.
Average Lifespan By Macaw Species
How long a macaw lives depends heavily on the species. Some species are known to outlive others at a significantly higher rate.
This does not mean that all individuals will adhere to these statistics.
These are merely average numbers, and there are many exceptions to the rules where a macaw will live many years longer (or shorter) than expected.
Below, we look at some of the more popular species, and some notes about each specific one:
|Hyacinth Macaw||50 years||This beautiful blue Macaw is actually the largest species of Macaw. While some people keep them as pets, it’s no longer recommended as they are endangered and should be left in the care of experts.|
|Scarlet Macaw||40 years||These gorgeous, vibrant birds are popular pets that are incredibly affectionate. While they are friendly and enjoy interaction – they do tend to have some behavior issues if they are provoked. Make sure they don’t get bored and try to keep them away from rowdy children.|
|Blue and Yellow Macaw||30 years||When you think of a macaw, you generally think of these guys. These blue and yellow birds make excellent pets and are incredibly playful and friendly. They are, unfortunately, also a bird that pet owners may take in before thinking about the commitment. You can often find these guys at rescue centers looking for a home willing to put the effort in.|
|Military Macaw||55 years||These medium-sized macaws get their names from their green feathers that are reminiscent of military uniforms. They are fun and playful but also need a lot of attention so that they don’t get bored or upset. These birds are great for someone looking for a smaller macaw that can learn how to talk.|
|Hahn’s Macaw||30 years||These little birds are incredibly affectionate and friendly. They are probably the Macaw most compatible with families and children. They tend not to be nippy and are a little less needy than other macaws. Just remember, this doesn’t mean that these guys don’t need attention.|
|Red and Green Macaw||30-70 years||These are also highly recognized Macaws that are red, green, and blue. They are a larger species with a big beak and a lot of energy. Don’t let them fool you, though; these birds are gentle giants who enjoy interacting with people and singing.|
|Severe Macaw||50 years||Don’t let the name fool you. These macaws are fun-loving and can be quite silly. They are classified as small Macaw and can make an excellent family pet. Just be sure to meet their entertainment needs. They need a lot of socialization and attention to be happy and remain behaved.|
|Yellow-Collared Macaw||50 years||As you might have guessed, these birds got their name from the yellow collar around their neck. They enjoy being the center of attention and are incredibly vocal. This hardy bird is a good choice for first-time macaw owners. Just be aware these birds like to play tricks sometimes.|
|Hybrid Macaw||30-75 Years||Hybrid Macaws are the result of crossing two different Macaw species together. Sometimes known as ‘interspecific hybrids’ or ‘crosses’.|
How Long Do Macaws Live As Pets?
Macaws will commonly reach their typical life expectancy when kept as pets. Consider that this will be in line with that of the species, and is based on the assumption that they are cared for properly and do not inherit any debilitating illnesses from birth.
It’s also important to note that macaws have a much different lifespan in the wild versus in captivity.
In the wild, they are vulnerable to so many other outside threats. Disease, starvation, weather, and predators are all factors that reduce the life expectancy of wild macaws.
When properly cared for, macaws kept in captivity tend to live significantly longer (sometimes over 100% longer!) than their wild counterparts.
Zoos in particular are places where macaws tend to live the longest.
They have the resources to create excellent conditions for these birds; combining both aspects of the wild and captivity together.
While no one expects you to have an entire rainforest enclosure in your backyard, you need to make sure you have adequate facilities to keep your macaw entertained and healthy.
Its also essential to be aware of their unique needs and requirements, and familiarize yourself with what is involved with parrot ownership.
We will be talking about some ways you can look to do this in the following sections, but if you are serious about getting a macaw, it is advised that you get a birdkeeper’s guide to knowing how to properly care for this particular bird, like this bestseller on Amazon.
Why Do Macaws Live So Long?
There are so many factors that go into a creature’s lifespan. It’s a rather complicated question to ask why some live longer than others. In general, birds have longer lifespans than many other animals – both in captivity in the wild.
In the wild, there are many different reasons why a flying animal has an advantage over terrestrial animals.
For one thing, escaping predators is much easier when you can fly away. This extra dimension increases their chances of running free from being someone’s dinner.
There is even some evidence that is flying mammals (bats) also get to experience this enhanced benefit.
This alone cannot explain the difference between the two lifespans. These differences persist even when an animal lives in a cage.
If we want to get on a microscopic level, this does have a lot to do with how their bodies metabolize different things.
While we don’t understand everything about these processes, researchers have a bit of an idea about the factors that contribute to these extended lifespans.
They have a special biological mechanism that processes things differently than us in a way that reduces damage and aging.
It might be scary to think about, but nearly every second of the day, our bodies are incurring damage from the world around us.
Oxygen, for instance, stresses are body out in a very small way that shows eventually ages us in the process.
For some reason, parrots are impacted less by these things than others. These strategies are impressive but still remain a bit of a mystery to us.
It also appears that they are able to have higher rates of neuron regrowth at levels unprecedented to mammals.
Scientists are continuously researching these mysterious phenomena in hopes that it can teach humans how to also extend their lifespan.
How To Ensure Your Macaw Reaches Their Life Expectancy
There will always be some factors that are, unfortunately, beyond our control. While there is nothing you can do to guarantee that your Macaw lives beyond the average – there are things you can do to increase the chances that your bird reaches their maximum lifespan.
Optimal Living Conditions
Overall, you want to make sure that your Macaw has good living conditions.
This means a lot of different things that don’t necessarily mean just getting all of the essentials.
Macaws are big birds, and it is unfair (and stressful) for them to be kept in tiny little cages that do not offer the room they need to move and spread their wings.
The size cage you need will differ depending on the exact species that you take in.
Most people have cages that are sufficiently large in addition to a big perch where they are free to enjoy their time outside of bars.
You need to make sure that your Macaw has the best diet and is given food and water regularly.
Regular Cage Cleaning
They also appreciate having a cage that is cleaned regularly and one that is big enough for them to live in.
While some trained birds are fine to fly around homes and play a bit, you need to make sure they do not escape.
This is not only bad for the bird who is flying into conditions they may not be prepared for, but they could compromise the health of your local ecosystem.
Imagine the surprise on a pigeon’s face when it now has to compete against a giant, formidable Macaw to get its dinner!
Not to mention you could lose your bird!
If you are concerned about your Macaw flying away, clipping a bird’s wings properly is a reversible method to consider.
This is a controversial topic as many people express concerns over denying a bird the natural gift of flight.
Clipping wings may also make it difficult for your bird to get exercise.
If you do decide to clip your bird’s wings, encourage them to practice wing flapping and still play around.
Macaws are incredibly playful and enjoy running around and playing with toys.
They should always have toys to play with in their cage so that they can entertain themselves when you are gone.
Little mirrors, colorful pays, and bells are fun for them.
Also, remember that they can’t just entertain themselves. Macaws are social animals that require social interaction.
It is not always possible to house two macaws together to be companions as easily as other parrots. In these cases, especially, you need to play and socialize with them.
This will not only keep them happy but keep it much easier for you to bond with and handle them.
Remember, these guys are members of your family, and you should always prioritize their wellbeing.
- Mancini, Julie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 112 Pages - 10/01/2011 (Publication Date) - TFH Publications, Inc. (Publisher)
Macaws are fantastic birds; irregardless of the particular species that you are looking at or decide to take in.
However, you should not take the decision lightly.
You need to ensure that you have the space, the time, and are prepared for what is involved when keeping them.
And this is not just for the first year or two. This could be for a significant proportion of your life.
It comes strongly advised that you only get a macaw when you know you are ready to make this commitment.
That being said, so long as you do your research, take a look at the possibilities, and educate yourself as much as possible; you should be in a good position if you did decide to go ahead.
Charlie, a 114-year-old Blue and Gold Macaw is one of the oldest that has been reported as still living. This particular bird has exceeded the average lifespan for this particular species by almost 75 years. In fact, this bird was formerly Winston Churchills while he was in office. He has since moved to Heathfield Nurseries, where he lives in an aviary with some other rescue birds.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.