Food for Macaws: What and How Do They Eat?

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Due to heightened awareness and increased research into birds’ needs, such as food for Macaws, the understanding of birds’ nutrition is continually expanding.

Like all other organisms, birds require a well-balanced diet of vitamins, minerals,  proteins, carbohydrates, fat, and water.

Now let’s talk about our focus specie: Macaws.

Macaws are the most well-known parrots, noted for their intelligence and beauty.

Despite their rebellious disposition, they make excellent and fascinating pets once tamed.

And, to your surprise, eating is a clear road to their hearts. 

So, what is the best food for Macaws? Let’s get to know!

Macaws’ Natural Diet in the Wild

blue and orange macaw

Macaws are omnivorous and inhabit Central and South American rainforests; however, some species prefer wooded plains.

Being omnivores, they feed on various foods, whose availability depends on their occupied area and the varying seasons.

Their extensive food options include

  • Leaves
  • Stems
  • Flowers
  • Insects
  • Nectar
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

A higher fat level is crucial to certain macaws, such as the Hyacinth Macaw.

Macaws’ Wild Food Categories – Narrowed Down

Seeds and nutsPrimarily peanuts and sunflower seeds
FruitsNamely bananas, apples, grapes, plums, and peaches
GrainsLike almonds and caches
VegetationSuch as soft leaves and grass
BerriesBlackberries and raspberries
FlowersLike violets, sunflowers, sage, thyme, elderberry, daises, hibiscus, and many more.

Other specifically important foods in Macaws’ diet are:

ClayIt aids in the neutralization of some of the toxins in the fruits and plants that Macaws consume.
NectarMacaws, like other birds, sip on nectar, which provides energy to keep them going throughout the day.
EggsThe proteins and minerals in other birds’ eggs help these parrots grow and thrive.
SnailsThey contain calcium, which aids in developing Macaws’ bones and other traits, such as their beaks.
Insects & BugsThese include a variety of vital nutrients and minerals.

A Complete Handbook of Food for Macaws as Pet Parrots

Food for Macaws

Below are the MAIN foods consumed mainly by the macaws (others are briefed above).

Is Your Macaw Seed-aholic?

Macaws must be fed a diverse and well-balanced diet.

Because commercial all-seed diets are high in fat, they lack several nutrients. If fed as the only food source, they may induce disease and shorten the Macaw’s life.

Your bird may frequently pick through a large bowl of commercial seed mix, eating only a few “favored” ones.

Seeds are tempting and desirable, yet they are nutritionally similar to serving candy daily to a baby. Therefore, they should only be a tiny component of a well-balanced diet, never the entire diet.

Furthermore, only a few nuts should be provided daily. Reduce the number of seeds gradually, and your bird will start eating other things.

Fruits and Veggies Make the Best Diet.

Fruits, vegetables, and greens must be 20 to 25% of daily calories and should be served separately.

Pale vegetables with a high water content have minimal nutritional value.

You must well-wash the fruits and vegetables to eliminate contaminants before being sliced into manageable pieces based on the bird’s size. (It is not necessary to remove the skin).

For Example

  • Vegetables: bell peppers, broccoli, dandelion greens, carrots, corn, spinach, beets, asparagus, pumpkin, artichoke, endive, green beans, zucchini, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and collard greens
  • Fruits: bananas, mangoes, grapes, strawberries, berries, star fruit, oranges, kiwis, and dates

Other Foods That Captive Macaws Consume

  • Condensed Bird Cakes: premade cakes of seeds, nuts, and fruits
  • Seeds: all seeds, but only a few sunflower seeds due to high-fat content.
  • Meat: pet macaws will eat eggs, fish, and even poultry (should be given in moderation)
  • Raw, Unsalted Nuts: peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, pine nuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachios

Nutrient-Rich Diet: Pelleted Foods

You may feed macaws pelleted diets, which often contain various components that give your bird all the necessary nutrients.

Pellets should make up 75% to 80% of a domesticated macaw’s diet.

These snacks are available in various tastes, colors, and forms. Aim for high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat.

Food for Macaws – Aside From Their Regular Diet

woman looking at the macaw

Supplement Your Macaw’s Diet Periodically

To increase protein and fat in their meals, supplement the food with nut or peanut butter.

The amount of peanut butter you give them should be 10 to 20% of their body weight. For instance, if your macaw weighs 5 kilos (10 pounds), give it 0.5 kg (1 pound) of peanut butter.

Give Them Vitamin and Mineral Supplements on a Seed Diet

If your macaw is already a “seed-aholic,” add some vitamin and mineral powder to the soft meals, such as fruits and vegetables. Make the feeding process more fun by hiding some to encourage foraging.

Give Proteins to Baby Macaws

Younger birds should be given legumes, cooked meat, and chicken as an extra source of protein to help in their development and growth.

To keep your macaw healthy and live longer, follow the measures outlined above.

What’s the Effective Way to Feed Pet Macaws?

Woman kissing her pet macaw

Feed your Macaw a variety of meals daily.

If you offer…

  • pelleted food, feed them 80% pellets and 20% fresh fruits/veggies.
  • seed mixes, you should give 70% and 30% fresh fruits/veggies.

Ideally, it would be best to wait until your Macaw has consumed its food before putting more into its dish. That’s how you can ensure that it finishes its meal.

To ensure health, your Macaw’s water and food bowls should be cleansed regularly, and new food should be provided.

Macaw Chicks: What Do They Eat?

baby macaw parrots

Macaw families usually have 1-4 chicks at a time, born with only a few feathers and eyes shut.

Their eyes open after a few days, and they begin preying on their weaker siblings/nest mates. Despite how painful it seems, macaw chicks are competitive, and only the strongest survive.

Their parents feed them until they are three months old, fully plumaged, and able to fly.

The macaw chicks consume anything their parents provide them, like insects, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and seeds.

Chicks achieve complete maturity in 2-10 years, depending on the species.

Key Points to Remember When Feeding Your Macaw

pet macaw on woman's arm
  • Offer fresh water and a variety of foods daily
  • Present fresh fruits and vegetables every day
  • Regularly clean all food and water dishes
  • Monitor the amount of food eaten every day by each bird
  • If your Macaw says NO to a food item a day does not mean no forever. Keep trying!

Final Words

Macaws, being very smart creatures, seek stimulation in nearly any activity.

This implies that if you feed them the same items, they will get bored rapidly. This is also why, in addition to feeding them pellets, you must provide fruits and vegetables that they can chew on.

Add some nuts, like Brazil nuts, that they can crack with their strong beak.

This will not only engage your macaw and keep him from becoming bored but will also guarantee access to a comprehensive, balanced diet.

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