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Keeping a Green-Winged Macaw as a Pet: What You Need to Know


The Green-Winged Macaw, also known as the Red-and-Green Macaw, is one of the largest species of parrots, with an average length of around 90 cm (35 in) and a wingspan of up to 120 cm (47 in). Their striking feathers are mostly red, with green wings and a blue and yellow tail.

These birds are highly intelligent and have a friendly, outgoing personality, which makes them popular as pets. However, owning a Green-Winged Macaw is a big responsibility, as they require a lot of attention and care. They are social animals and need plenty of socialization and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy.

In the wild, Green-Winged Macaws can be found in the rainforests of South America, from Panama to Brazil. They live in large flocks and have a varied diet that includes fruits, nuts, seeds, and insects.

Unfortunately, the Green-Winged Macaw is facing several threats in the wild, including habitat loss and poaching for the pet trade. In addition, climate change is affecting their habitat, and the destruction of forests is also leading to a decline in their population.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect this magnificent bird, including the creation of protected areas and conservation programs. In addition, several organizations are working to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the natural habitats of Green-Winged Macaws and other endangered species.

Distinguishing Characteristics

There are some unique features that distinguish green-winged macaws from other species. For example, their large size and long tail make them stand out among other parrots, and their green wings with a red body and blue and yellow tail are also distinctive. Additionally, they have a loud, high-pitched call that is unique to this species.

Natural Habitat

The natural habitat of the Green-Winged Macaw is the humid, lowland rainforests of South America, from Panama to Brazil. They are usually found in the canopy layer of the forest, where they make their nests in tree hollows or cavities. These forests are characterized by tall trees with a dense canopy, abundant rainfall, and high humidity levels. The Green-Winged Macaw is also known to inhabit gallery forests along rivers and other wetlands.

These forests are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including other parrot species, toucans, monkeys, and jaguars. The Green-Winged Macaw feeds on a variety of fruits, nuts, seeds, and insects that are abundant in these forests.

Unfortunately, the Green-Winged Macaw’s natural habitat is under threat from deforestation, logging, and agriculture. As a result, their populations have declined in some areas, and they are now considered endangered in parts of their range. Conservation efforts are underway to protect their habitat and ensure the survival of this magnificent species.


Green-Winged Macaws have a long lifespan, and they are known to live for up to 60 years in the wild. However, in captivity, with proper care, they can live even longer, up to 80 years or more. It is important to note that owning a Green-Winged Macaw as a pet is a significant commitment, as they require specialized care and attention throughout their long lifespan. It is crucial to ensure that their social, dietary, and environmental needs are met to keep them healthy and happy.

Aging Characteristics

Determining the age of a Green-Winged Macaw can be challenging, particularly for adult birds. However, there are some general guidelines that can help estimate their age based on their physical characteristics.

One way to determine the age of a young Green-Winged Macaw is by looking at the color of their eyes. Hatchlings have dark brown eyes that gradually lighten as they mature, and by the age of three months, their eyes will be yellowish-brown. By the age of six months, their eyes will be light brown, and by the age of one year, their eyes will be a bright, golden-yellow color.

Another way to estimate the age of an adult Green-Winged Macaw is by examining the color and texture of their beak. Younger birds will have a lighter, smoother beak, while older birds will have a darker, rougher, and more prominent beak.

It is important to note that these are general guidelines, and they may not be accurate for all individual birds. Other factors, such as diet and environmental conditions, can also affect a bird’s physical characteristics and make it challenging to determine their age with certainty. Therefore, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian or an experienced avian specialist for a more accurate assessment of a bird’s age.

Costs of Ownership

The cost of buying a Green-Winged Macaw can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the age of the bird, its pedigree, and the location of the breeder or seller. Generally speaking, Green-Winged Macaws are among the more expensive species of parrots.

On average, the cost of a young, hand-raised Green-Winged Macaw can range from $2,000 to $3,500. However, some breeders or sellers may charge more for birds with exceptional coloration or genetics.

It is important to keep in mind that the initial cost of purchasing a bird is only one aspect of the total cost of owning a Green-Winged Macaw. These birds require specialized care, including a large and secure cage, a nutritious diet, and regular veterinary checkups, all of which can add up to significant ongoing expenses over the bird’s lifespan.

Annual Veterinary Care

Green-Winged Macaws require regular veterinary care to ensure they remain healthy and happy throughout their long lifespan. Annual veterinary care for a Green-Winged Macaw should include a physical exam, fecal examination, blood work, and a beak, and nail trim, as well as any necessary vaccinations or treatments.

The cost of annual veterinary care for a Green-Winged Macaw can vary depending on the location of the veterinarian and the specific services provided. Generally, an annual veterinary exam for a bird can cost anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the vet’s fees and any additional tests or treatments required. Blood work and fecal examinations may cost extra, usually around $50 to $100.

It is important to note that these are general estimates, and the cost of veterinary care can vary widely depending on the individual bird’s health and any specific health issues that may arise. Additionally, emergency veterinary care can be costly, so it is important to have a financial plan in place to cover unexpected expenses. It is always best to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in avian medicine for specific recommendations on annual veterinary care for your Green-Winged Macaw.


Green-Winged Macaws can be susceptible to several diseases, some of which are common among parrot species. Here are some of the most common diseases that can affect Green-Winged Macaws:

  1. Psittacosis: Also known as parrot fever, psittacosis is a bacterial infection that can cause respiratory problems, diarrhea, and fever.
  2. Aspergillosis: This fungal infection can affect the respiratory system of Green-Winged Macaws and cause difficulty breathing, coughing, and nasal discharge.
  3. Polyoma: This viral disease can cause Green-Winged Macaws to become lethargic, lose weight, and develop swollen abdomens.
  4. Macaw wasting disease: This disease is caused by a virus and can cause Green-Winged Macaws to lose weight, develop diarrhea, and become lethargic.
  5. Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD): PDD is a viral disease that affects the digestive system of Green-Winged Macaws, leading to symptoms such as regurgitation, weight loss, and lethargy.
  6. Feather picking: Although not a disease, feather picking can be a common problem among Green-Winged Macaws. This behavior can be caused by stress, boredom, or health issues.

It is crucial to provide Green-Winged Macaws with proper care and regular veterinary checkups to prevent these diseases and detect any potential health issues early on. If you notice any unusual symptoms in your Green-Winged Macaw, such as changes in behavior, appetite, or appearance, it is essential to consult with an avian veterinarian as soon as possible.


Training a Green-Winged Macaw can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for both the bird and its owner. Here are some tips on how to train a Green-Winged Macaw:

  1. Establish trust: Before beginning any training, it is crucial to establish trust with your bird. Spend time with your Green-Winged Macaw every day, offering treats and gentle interactions. This will help your bird feel comfortable and relaxed around you.
  2. Positive reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, and attention, to encourage your Green-Winged Macaw to engage in desired behaviors. For example, when your bird steps up onto your hand, reward it with a treat and praise.
  3. Consistency: Consistency is key when training a Green-Winged Macaw. Use the same commands and techniques every time you interact with your bird to avoid confusion and reinforce positive behaviors.
  4. Short training sessions: Green-Winged Macaws can have short attention spans, so keep training sessions brief, no longer than 10-15 minutes at a time.
  5. Gradual progression: Start with simple behaviors, such as stepping up or target training, and gradually progress to more complex behaviors, such as flying to your hand or performing tricks.
  6. Patience: Training a Green-Winged Macaw takes time and patience. Be patient with your bird and avoid getting frustrated if progress is slow.

It is essential to remember that every Green-Winged Macaw is unique and may respond differently to training. Some birds may be more receptive to training than others, so it is crucial to adjust your approach to suit your bird’s individual needs and personality. Additionally, it is crucial to prioritize your bird’s physical and mental well-being throughout the training process, providing ample opportunities for exercise, play, and socialization.


Green-Winged Macaws have specific dietary requirements to maintain their health and well-being. In the wild, their diet consists mainly of fruits, nuts, seeds, and berries. As pets, their diet should be well-balanced and include a variety of foods that provide essential nutrients. Here are some dietary requirements for Green-Winged Macaws:

  1. High-quality pellets: A high-quality pelleted diet should make up the majority of your Green-Winged Macaw’s diet. Pellets provide essential vitamins and minerals and are nutritionally balanced to meet your bird’s needs.
  2. Fresh fruits and vegetables: Green-Winged Macaws should also receive fresh fruits and vegetables daily. These should include dark, leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, as well as other fruits and vegetables like apples, berries, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
  3. Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds can be a nutritious addition to your Green-Winged Macaw’s diet. These should be offered in moderation, as they are high in fat. Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are good options.
  4. Limited treats: Treats should be limited to avoid overfeeding your bird. Some healthy options include whole-grain crackers, unsweetened cereal, and small pieces of fruit.
  5. Clean water: Fresh, clean water should be available to your Green-Winged Macaw at all times.

It is important to avoid feeding Green-Winged Macaws foods that are high in fat, salt, or sugar, as these can be harmful to their health. Additionally, some foods, such as avocado and chocolate, are toxic to birds and should be avoided. It is always best to consult with an avian veterinarian or a knowledgeable pet store employee to ensure that your Green-Winged Macaw’s diet is well-balanced and meets its nutritional needs.

Sexual Maturity

Green-Winged Macaws typically reach sexual maturity between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. Once they reach sexual maturity, they may begin to display breeding behaviors, such as courtship dances and vocalizations.

The reproductive life of Green-Winged Macaws can vary, but they are known to breed well into their 30s and 40s in captivity. However, it is important to note that breeding birds should be monitored closely to ensure that they remain healthy and are not overly stressed by the breeding process. Additionally, breeding birds should only be paired with suitable mates to avoid any health or behavioral issues that may arise.

Mating Behavior

Green-Winged Macaws are monogamous birds, meaning they mate for life. During the breeding season, which can vary depending on the region and climate, Green-Winged Macaws engage in elaborate courtship behaviors to attract a mate. These courtship behaviors may include vocalizations, displays of plumage, and dancing.

Once a pair has formed, they will work together to construct a nest in a suitable tree cavity. The female will lay 1 to 3 eggs, which both parents will take turns incubating for about 28 days. Once the eggs hatch, both parents will care for the chicks, feeding them regurgitated food and keeping them warm.

Green-Winged Macaws typically breed once a year, although in some cases, they may breed twice a year. Breeding can be influenced by environmental factors such as rainfall and temperature, which can affect the availability of food and nesting sites.

It is important to note that breeding Green-Winged Macaws should be closely monitored to ensure that they remain healthy and are not overly stressed by the breeding process. Additionally, breeding birds should only be paired with suitable mates to avoid any health or behavioral issues that may arise.

Gender Characteristics

It can be difficult to distinguish male and female Green-Winged Macaws based on their physical appearance alone, as they have similar plumage and body size. However, there are a few subtle differences that can help determine the sex of a Green-Winged Macaw:

  1. Head size: Female Green-Winged Macaws tend to have slightly smaller heads than males.
  2. Eye color: Males typically have a slightly darker iris color than females.
  3. Behavior: During breeding season, males may exhibit more courtship behaviors, such as vocalizations and displays, while females may exhibit more nesting behaviors, such as excavating a nest cavity.
  4. DNA testing: The most accurate way to determine the sex of a Green-Winged Macaw is through DNA testing, which can be done through a blood sample or feather follicle.

It is important to note that the sex of a Green-Winged Macaw does not necessarily have a significant impact on their behavior or care requirements.

IUCN Red List Status (Least Concern)

The Green-Winged Macaw (Ara chloropterus) is classified as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This classification means that the species is not currently facing significant threats to its survival, although local populations may still be at risk due to habitat loss and illegal capture for the pet trade. However, conservation efforts are ongoing to monitor and protect Green-Winged Macaw populations and their habitats.

Where to Visit Locally

There is currently one male Green-Winged Macaw named Lucy who is a permanent resident at Port Orchard Parrot Rescue and Sanctuary. Additionally, we frequently host boarding Green-Winged Macaws at Port Orchard Parrots Plus. Visitors are welcome to view our flock at any time during regular business hours, however we recommend viewing between noon and 2:30pm when we and our volunteers are not engaged in feeding and cleaning activity. It may also be possible to view Green-Winged Macaws in the collections of either the Point Defiance Zoo (Tacoma) or the Woodland Park Zoo (Seattle).


  • Green-Winged Macaws are a large species of parrot native to Central and South America, known for their striking green and red plumage and long, powerful beaks.
  • They inhabit a variety of forested habitats, including rainforests, savannas, and swamps.
  • Green-Winged Macaws can live 80 years or more in captivity with proper care, and can reach sexual maturity between the ages of 3 and 5 years old.
  • They are monogamous birds that mate for life, and typically breed once a year during the breeding season, engaging in elaborate courtship behaviors and constructing a nest in a tree cavity.
  • It can be difficult to distinguish male and female Green-Winged Macaws based on their physical appearance alone, but subtle differences in head size and eye color, as well as behavioral cues and DNA testing, can help determine their sex.
  • Green-Winged Macaws have a varied diet in the wild, consisting of fruits, seeds, nuts, and occasionally insects, and require a similar diet in captivity to maintain their health.
  • While Green-Winged Macaws are not currently considered endangered by the IUCN Red List, local populations may still be at risk due to habitat loss and illegal capture for the pet trade, and conservation efforts are ongoing to protect their populations and habitats.

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