Military Macaw: Bird Species Profile

Military Macaw

Military Macaws are not only talkative and social but also great parrots that have a reputation for being pleasant and like-minded pet birds. Ideally, if hand-fed from birth, they can form a strong bond with their owners. 

Overview of the species :

COMMON NAMES: Military Macaw, Bolivian Military Macaw, Mexican Military Macaw.

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ara militaris.

ADULT SIZE: 30 inches from bill to end of tail feathers, wingspan over 40 inches, weight about 2 pounds.

LIFETIME: 50 years on average.

Origin and History

Military macaws are native to the south and Southcentral. Their range extends from Mexico to Argentina. Unlike other parrots, military macaws prefer dry land rather than tropical rainforests. They can also be found in dry forests and on trees near water. However, some flocks in South America also live in moist lowland forests and canyons, and foothills.

This bird is a protected species; it is considered endangered. Although the total population is over 10,000 individuals, some regional populations are endangered due to habitat loss and capture for the pet trade.

Historically, the military macaw has been around since the 1500s when Europeans arrived in the New World. Their name is derived from the military personnel who brought them to Europe. It also refers to their olive green color, which resembles “military green.”

This macaw is a popular species used to breed hybrid macaws in captivity, such as calico macaws, milicinth macaws, and miligold macaws.


The Military Macaw is an easily tamed and good-natured bird. In the wild, it is rarely alone and lives in pairs or flocks of 10 to 20 birds. In captivity, it is not uncommon for this bird to favor one person or even one sex. It must be introduced to a variety of people so that it remains friendly in all social situations.

Although not known for being particularly affectionate, military macaws that have been handled and socialized appropriately may enjoy some hugs and petting.

These birds can be grumpy at times. Macaws can become irritable if they are not happy or well-trained.

They can act as “watch birds,” letting you know that something is wrong in the house. For example, they may scream to alert you that a stranger is at the door. Military macaws love routines. He can usually anticipate when you are expected home and when it is time for dinner.

A sociable and intelligent parrot, the Military Macaw is a popular choice for bird shows. Their training is relatively easy with treats, and they love to learn tricks. Some are even trained to just walk in their cage.

Talking and vocalizing

Although this bird is not as naturally talkative as other parrots, it can be trained to be talkative and can learn a handful of words and phrases.

Like all macaws, these birds rise with the sun each morning and call to let you know they are up. This warning call is repeated in the evening as they prepare to go to bed. Although they are generally considered one of the quietest macaws, they can also scream and have a distinct caw. This level of noise is generally not suitable for apartments or shared living.

Color and markings of the Macaw

Military macaws are mostly green, with brighter lime green on the head, then a darker green and olive color on the body. They have bright blue edges on the wings and a bright red tuft on the forehead. The tail feathers are brown and red with a yellow-olive tint underneath.

These birds have a bold black bill and dark gray legs and feet. Their eyes are framed by the classic naked macaw facial patches, each with concentric rings of small black feathers.

This is a monomorphic species, meaning that males and females look alike. DNA or surgical sexing is the only way to determine if the bird is male or female.

Care of a military macaw

In captivity, the owner of the parrot becomes the bird’s companion. This bird is not a pet that can be bought and ignored; these birds need interaction and mental stimulation. If you ignore them, you will pay the price in the form of tattered possessions, gnawed toes, and frustration.

The cage itself should be large: at least 2.5 feet by 3 feet wide and 5 feet high. If you can, create a room just for the birds. Be sure to provide a large perch inside the cage and a play perch for times away from home. The military macaw can become territorial with its cage; limit the introduction of your hands into the cage while the bird is in it.

The bird’s cage should be cleaned regularly. Clean the perches and toys once a week, wash the cage floor once a month, and thoroughly disinfect the rest of the cage once a year.

Consider the costs of owning one of these parrots before you make a purchase. Vet bills, quality food, toys, and cages add up. If you can’t give your bird the best of everything, consider putting off adopting a bird until you can.

Common Health Problems

Macaws can be long-lived birds, but, like all parrots, they are prone to a viral infection called macaw dieback syndrome and oversized beaks. Like other domestic parrots, military macaws may resort to self-mutilation by plucking their feathers if they feel neglected or bored.

Diet and nutrition

In the wild, military macaws eat seeds, berries, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Military macaws as pets should have a similar diet, consisting of a mixture of high-quality seeds or pellets and fresh fruits and vegetables suitable for birds.

Military Macaw owners often find that their bird likes to join them for dinner. You can give them “people food” from time to time, including small amounts of protein like chicken. If a product is healthy, natural, and generally considered “good for you,” it should be good for your bird. 

Depending on his size, a macaw will eat 1/2 to 3/4 cup of parrot mix and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of fruits and vegetables each day. You can feed it once in the morning when it wakes up and at night before it goes to sleep. Remove all uneaten food before bedtime.


In the wild, macaws fly several hundred miles a day. In captivity, regular exercise is essential. Owners should ensure that their animals have a minimum of 2-4 hours of playtime per day outside of their cage. This activity time allows the birds to stretch their wings and exercise their beaks while providing additional mental stimulation.

Military birds are active, so they occupy their time with chores and activities. Bird-safe toys are a must. One of their favorite activities is chewing, so the wood will be their resource, even if it is tree branches. This bird will also appreciate swings, ropes, chain links, and bells.

Toys are also excellent distractions for this curious parrot that might otherwise spend its time screaming, plucking feathers, or chewing on objects around the house.


  • Intelligent, he can learn to talk and do tricks.
  • One of the calmest macaws
  • Even-tempered, friendly, and sociable.

Disadvantages :

  • Can be noisy and not suitable for apartments.
  • Needs to spend at least 2-4 hours under supervision outside the cage.
  • Large birds requiring a large cage size

Where can you adopt or buy a military macaw? 

military macaws are successfully bred in captivity, you should be able to purchase one from a reputable breeder or adoption agency. These birds cost around $2,500. Here is some online sources where you can find military macaws: Bird Rescue Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary. Birds Now Contact breeders to see if you can spend time with them and their birds. Talk to someone who has experience breeding these birds before deciding if they are right for you. Before buying, make sure the bird is alert and active and has all the signs of a healthy bird, such as bright eyes, clean feathers, and a full crop.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.