Scarlet macaws are extremely intelligent birds with an abundance of energy and personality, but they need daily socialization and stimulation to tame them and keep them that way. They can get bored quite easily, so they should be provided with plenty of toys to play with. Handled scarlet macaws can be very affectionate, but potential owners should keep in mind that they, like all macaws, can be rather noisy at times.
Scarlet macaws are idiosyncratic birds that can become fixated on one person if they are not trained when young to socialize with every family member. The impressively large beak is very powerful; this bird may not be a great fit for families with children.
Colors and Markings
One of the most colorful macaw species, scarlets are mostly vivid red with bright yellow and blue edging on their wings. Some birds may have a band of green where the yellow meets the blue. The large eye patch is white, and the bill has a horn-colored upper mandible and a black lower mandible.
Scarlet macaws have been popular with bird owners for many years, and it’s no wonder why—they are beautiful, intelligent, and they make exceptional companions for the right owner.
The scarlet’s striking plumage may be what draws many to the bird, but its personality is what keeps them coming back for more. Confident and friendly, scarlets are usually eager to take on tasks such as learning tricks, and some even develop vocabularies of 5 to 10 words.
While these birds are appealing to enthusiasts everywhere, it should be noted that the scarlet macaws are not for everybody and they do best in homes with attentive and experienced owners. They can become aggressive and destructive if not properly trained and socialized, and they need to be worked with daily to maintain the bond between bird and owner.
Potential owners should also be aware that scarlets can be extremely loud. This may make them a questionable choice for those living in apartments or condominiums. Bear in mind that if you have any sensitivity to loud noises, you might want to rethink this particular species.
While keeping a scarlet does require a bit of work on the part of the owner, most people who own them will agree that their bird is well worth the effort—they are rewarded every day with the bird’s companionship and sweet disposition.
A large bird, the scarlet macaw is best suited for a large space and will not thrive in a cage that is too small. It needs a lot of out-of-cage time, and if it doesn’t get it, the bird may develop behavioral problems, such as feather-plucking and other forms of self-mutilation. Make sure the cage has large swings and toys.
In the wild, scarlet macaw’s live in small groups, and when kept as an individual bird as a pet, it needs a lot of interaction—several hours a day.
Scarlet macaws, like other types of macaws, are usually sold only at avian specialty pet stores or by breeders. Rescue/adoption agencies may also sometimes have this bird given up by owners unable to care for them. Make sure to do your research before taking a scarlet macaw into your home; it is a great pet for the right owner, but a poor choice for others.
The best diet for a macaw begins with a good parrot mix that includes formulated foods, a variety of seeds, dried fruits, and nuts. To this base diet, provide plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. High calcium greens such as kale and spinach are especially important. An all-seed diet is extremely unhealthy for these birds. As with all parrots, avoid chocolate and avocado, which are toxic.
Macaws are large birds and need ample space and time to play and stretch their muscles. These are active birds by nature, and providing the means to burn off that energy is crucial. A scarlet macaw should be allowed outside of the cage for at least two hours a day (four or five is better) and should also be given plenty of chew toys to help it exercise the powerful beak and jaws. Rugged ties that can take a beating help the jaw muscles while providing an outlet for the chewing instinct.
If you have the room, a play gym or a cargo net designed specifically for parrots is a great play area for your scarlet macaw. Your scarlet will be far happier if it has the equipment on which to play and climb.