A parrot can be a good companion, offering owners a pet to care for and even one to converse with. However, parrots, macaws in particular, require a large amount of space to be happy and healthy. A bird aviary must be purchased or built to accommodate the bird and allow it enough room to spread its wings and live.
A macaw may need to be kept inside, especially in colder climates. These cages, however, also take up a significant amount of space. Beware of some store-bought aviaries that claim to be sized for macaws that fall below the recommended dimensions. Many companies only take the size of the bird into consideration and do not allow for free movement of the bird. An indoor aviary should be at least 90 cm (36 inches) wide, 1.2 m (48 inches) long and 1.5 m (60 inches) tall. A macaw should be able to sit in the cage unrestricted, while also being able to spread its wings without touching the sides. Some macaw owners transform an entire room into an aviary, covering doors and windows with wiring.
An outdoor aviary allows a macaw to fly more freely and have a larger living space. These aviaries are a better option for warmer climates or for an alternative during the summer months in colder areas. An outdoor aviary should measure at least 3 m x 4.5 m (10 feet by 15 feet) and be at least 2.4 m (8 feet) tall. This gives the macaw an adequate amount of space to fly. It also gives a sense of the macaw's natural habitat and lets you view your pet in all its splendour.
The wires with which the aviary are made are important to the size of the macaw aviary. For an outdoor aviary, the wires must keep the bird inside, while keeping other wild birds and creatures out. For this reason, the wires must be at least 3.8 cm (1 1/2 inches) apart. Down to 1.6 cm (5/8 inches) is also acceptable, depending on the size of the macaw. A larger macaw can make do with larger spacing. Wires should also run horizontally, as well as vertically, to give the bird something to cling to on the side of the aviary.
Regardless whether you use an indoor or outdoor aviary, macaws require accessories to enjoy their surroundings. Plenty of perches give the birds a place to rest. 2.5 cm (1 inch) perches are the typical size for macaws. Perches can be made from wood or plastic. Other bird owners use actual branches for perches, creating a more natural look. Food and water bowls make feeding your macaw easier. They will learn where the food will be and when. Macaws, like other birds, also enjoy bird toys. Bird toys generally consist of ladders, swings and mirrors.
- "Macaws"; Roger G. Sweeney, et al; November 2005
- Avian Web: Macaws
- Animal World: Bird care
- Takoda Aviary: Cage dimensions for all companion birds