In the wild, macaws mainly eat palm nuts, seeds, and fruits. Since these birds are very active, they will need nutrients that are rich in calories, protein, and oil among others.
Fortunately, current supplements have opened up new and healthy options for pet owners. In this section, you will be guided on how to properly feed your pet Macaw and learn the amount of food and nutritional requirements a macaw needs.
Nutritional Needs Of Macaws
Feeding your pet macaw is not that complicated. However, its activity level must be taken into account to meet its nutritional diet. They are not picky eaters, but as mentioned above, macaws are strongly recommended to receive a variety of foods for balanced nutrition.
As much as possible, avoid giving only the same type of food, such as a pellet diet or a seed-only diet; can result in a nutrient deficiency and can lead to illness due to its limited nutrients, which could
It also shortens the lifespan of your Macaw.
This section describes the foods that your pet Macaw will appreciate to meet most of its dietary needs.
Types Of Food
a) Seeds And Pellet
Seeds are an important part of any bird’s diet; They eat seeds naturally in the wild and it is also a good source of carbohydrates. However, the seeds alone can cause complications because they are naturally fatty.
Although macaws need fatty acids for their skin development, they still need to be moderated. It is not advisable to mix seeds with pellets and feed it immediately, although many people recommend it; For best results, offer seeds first for a few days, then slowly incorporate the pellets into the diet until your macaw is a good fit.
The key is to give it in moderation. Feed them at least 1/2 – 3/4 cup of mix or fortified parrot diet, the amount may vary depending on the size of your macaw.
b) Vegetables That Macaws Eat
Vegetables contain phytonutrients that enhance the body’s immune system preventing disease. Vegetables are also a rich source of natural fiber for the body. However, keep in mind that you should feed your Macaw vegetables in moderation to prevent diarrhea and make sure they are well washed before giving it to your bird.
Below is the list of highly recommended vegetables for macaws:
- Beets and greens
- Broccoli and greens
- Cauliflower and greens
- Swiss chard
- Chinese cabbage
- Fennel and leaves, stems, seeds
- Lettuce (darker is better)
- Peas/Green Peas /Green Beans/Snow Peas
- Peppers (all types)
- Radishes and vegetables
- Sweet potato /yam (cooked /parboiled)
- Pumpkin (all types)
- Tomatoes (offer sparingly)
- Turnips and turnip greens
c) Fruits That Mcaws Love To Eat
Fruits are healthy and sweet; They also provide natural sources of sugars for parrots. It is recommended that you only offer bite-sized fruits and remove the pits or seeds from the fruits to prevent your macaw from choking.
Below is a list of fruits that vets recommend for your macaw:
- Apples (seedless)
- Apricots (seedless)
- Cherries (seedless)
- Coconut (feed sparingly due to fat content)
- Dragon fruit
- Kiwi fruit
- Mango (seedless)
- Melon (cantaloupe, watermelon,honeydew)
- Nectarine (no seed)
- Olive (fresh)
- Passion Fruit
- Peach (no seed)
- Pear (no seed)
- Plum (no seed)
- Rose Hips
- Rowan Berries
- Schizandra Berries
Offer fruits and vegetables daily or every 2-3 days. As a precaution, if your macaw did not consume all the fruit you gave it, remove all its remains from the cage to avoid the risk of eating a spoiled fruit.
As mentioned above, some fortified parrot diet or mix already contains essential vitamins. Before buying a good pellet mix or picking vegetables for your macaw, you should be aware that vitamin A is one of the most essential vitamins that birds need.
Vitamin A improves vision and can also boost immunity. Eggs and meat are good sources of vitamin A, as well as different types of vegetables such as carrots, kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and squash.
Too much or not enough vitamin A can potentially leave your macaw vulnerable to disease. Since macaws differ in types and sizes, it’s best to check with your avian vet first to find out the correct amount of vitamin A your pet needs.
e) Amino Acids
Macaws need high levels of protein or amino acids to build their tissues, feathers, muscles, and skin. Birds, in general, can produce their own amino acids, however, there are some amino acids such as threonine, tryptophan, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, and valine that macaws cannot produce or maintain in their body.
Fortunately, the sources of these essential amino acids are available in current poultry diet products.
Here is the list of recommended proteins for your pet Macaws to feed on:
- Beans (cook small amounts as needed)
- Chicken (cooked, preferably shredded fingers not fried)
- Eggs (cooked/hard)
- Nuts (all types)
- Seeds (bird seeds provide protein)
- Turkey (cooked, preferably grated)
The main function of calcium is to strengthen the bones and also allows the calcification of the eggshell in birds. Usually in the wild, macaws get their calcium and other minerals through clay deposits.
In captivity, you can provide calcium in the form of a cuttlebone or calcium treat that attached inside your birdcage. You can also offer a powdered supplement, such as a packaged oyster shell, that can be added directly to your pet’s food.
Follow the directions on the supplement package. Calcium is also vital for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and heart functions.
Your macaw should be exposed to UVB light for at least 3-4 hours a day, for optimal physiological use of the calcium you are giving your bird.
Hydration is as important for birds as it is for humans, especially during hot conditions to avoid dehydration; Macaws can drink 10 times their normal water intake during the summer. They must have access to clean, fresh, and freshwater.
Do not use tap water because it can make the bird sick, as well as distilled water; instead, use plain bottled drinking water or bottled natural spring water.
If tap water is used, treat it with a dechlorination treatment. The inability to provide fresh water to pet birds can cause an upset stomach with excruciating stomach pain.
Water is vital for maintaining cells, digestion, feathers, and metabolism. All water given to birds for drinking, as well as water used for misting, soaking, or bathing, must be 100% free of chlorine and heavy metals.
As mentioned above, you could give your Macaws a reward every time they do something right, like performing tricks or just learning to talk.
You can feed them different types of nuts like almonds, macadamias, and walnuts. You can also give easy-to-digest, bite-size fruits, or treats to make yourself from time to time.
Some examples of homemade treats are carrot muffins (minus the sugar), popcorn, corn, unsalted pretzel sticks with fruit, and brown rice with berries.
Macaws will surely love to eat something appetizing and this is also a positive reinforcement for the bird, especially during training.
Toxic Foods To Avoid Your Macaw
Some foods are specifically toxic to your macaws or any type of bird in general. Make sure your bird never eats one of the toxic items listed below, and make sure your bird is checked by an avian vet from time to time.
These harmful foods are just as important as selecting the right supplements and foods for your bird.
The following list of foods is highly toxic to your macaw:
- Tomato leaves
- Dried beans
- Chocolate (highly allergic)
- Junk food
- Apple and cherry seeds
- Milk and dairy products
- French fries
- Marbled meat
- Peanut butter