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Blue-Throated Macaw

Brooke Billingsley

Brightly colored and highly intelligent birds can make great but challenging pets, and the Blue-Throated Macaw is no different. These gorgeous birds are full of attitude and sass but can also be sweet and gentle under the right circumstances. If you’ve considered making the big investment in this expensive bird that might outlive you, then keep reading for more info on the Blue-Throated Macaw.divider-bird

Species Overview

Common Names: Blue-Throated Macaw, Caninde Macaw, Wagler’s Macaw, barba azul/blue beard
Scientific Name: Ara glaucogularis
Adult Size: 30-33 inches with 3-foot wingspan
Life Expectancy: 35-80 years

Origin and History

The Blue-Throated Macaw is native only to Northern Bolivia, and they are considered to be one of the rarest Macaws in the world. It’s estimated that fewer than 400 Blue-Throated Macaws still exist in the wild today, making them critically endangered. While there are many factors that have led to the decline of this species, one is that these birds were hunted by Bolivian natives until 2010 for their colorful plumage, which is used to make ritual headdresses. Other factors include the pet trade, nesting competition, and living in a small geographical area. Although they are critically endangered in the wild, these birds are widely kept in the pet trade and are popular in zoos across the world.

Temperament

Captive-bred and raised Blue-Throated Macaws are known for their loud, boisterous behavior and their curious nature. In the wild, they tend to be more timid and secretive. As pets, these birds can be quite the handful due to their curiosity and mischievousness. They are quite loud and vocal, which can be a problem when attempting to keep these birds in apartments or even a house with nearby neighbors.

They are known to bite and nip, especially with people they aren’t familiar or bonded with. However, due to their size and strong beak, these birds are capable of doing significant damage with a single bite, especially if they bite a finger or child’s hand. They are social, though, and do seem to enjoy the company of people once they are used to them, and they seem to form close bonds with their owners.

Pros
  • Curious and playful
  • Can form close bonds with people
  • Entertaining and mischievous
Cons
  • Can do significant damage with a bite
  • Noisy and may bother neighbors

Speech & Vocalizations

Blue-Throated Macaws are known to produce the loud squawking sound typically associated with parrots. However, their vocalizations tend to be higher pitched and quieter than the sounds associated with larger birds, like Blue and Gold Macaws. They are also able to mimic sounds and speech, with many of them even learning entire phrases and conversations.divider-bird

Blue-Throated Macaw Colors and Markings

The Blue-Throated Macaw earned its name, and its nickname “barba azul” or “blue beard” because of the blue markings on its throat. These birds have bright blue bodies with striped markings on the face and a blue “beard” that extends below the jaw. The chest, abdomen, and oftentimes the legs are bright yellow.

They have a large, pointed beak that allows them to eat fruit and nuts in the wild. They also have large feet with sharp claws they use for gripping branches and food. They are able to use these feet like a primate might use its hands to hold and stabilize food.

Caring for the Blue-Throated Macaw

Grooming

It’s recommended that you regularly bathe your Blue-Throated Macaw to keep its skin and feathers healthy. You can also mist your bird to dampen and clean the feathers. Beak, nail, and wing trims may be necessary for some birds, but should only be performed by properly trained individuals who understand how to safely perform these tasks.

Enclosure

These birds need plenty of space to move around. The minimum recommendation for their enclosure is 5 feet by 5 feet 8 feet. The larger the enclosure, the happier your bird will be. Some people choose to keep their bird out in a room, which can provide your bird plenty of space, but you’ll have to ensure that your bird is safely away from children and other pets and that it isn’t able to escape or injure itself.

Cage Mates

In the wild, Blue-Throated Macaws form monogamous pairs, although they can also sometimes be found in groups fewer than 10 birds. An opposite sex, bonded pair of birds will enjoy each other’s company. However, introducing a new bird to a bird that is already established in the home may be difficult.

Common Health Problems

  • Kidney disease
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Parasitic infections
  • Viral infections
  • Heavy metal poisoning
  • Environmental
  • Food allergies
  • Age-related ailments

Diet and Nutrition

The primary dietary staples for Blue-Throated Macaws are seeds, nuts, and fruits. In the wild, they enjoy palm fruits and other wild fruits. Pet birds should be provided a varied diet to ensure all nutritional needs are met. A commercial parrot food can help ensure your bird’s basic nutritional needs are met, while offering a variety of nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits can create enrichment and dietary stability. Offer items like berries, chopped veggies, hard-shelled nuts, and a variety of seeds. Highly nutritious biscuits and treats are sold commercially and can help ensure your bird’s dietary needs are fully met.

Exercise

Many people choose to keep their bird’s wings trimmed, and flight isn’t a necessary part of their exercise. However, they should be provided with a variety of toys, games, and puzzles, as well as an environment that provides social and mental stimulation. Birds that are kept busy are less likely to get into trouble or into things that may hurt them. They’re also less likely to become destructive or develop stress and boredom related problems.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Blue-Throated Macaw

It’s possible to find a Blue-Throated Macaw up for adoption near you if you find someone who bit off more than they could chew by taking in one of these birds. Even an adopted bird will likely cost you at least a few hundred dollars, not to mention the setup and maintenance expenses. To purchase a Blue-Throated Macaw, you should expect to spend $1000-2000 or more. You may be able to find a bird for sale in a shop near you, but you may have to turn to the internet to find a reputable breeder to ensure you get a healthy bird who has been captive-bred and raised in an ethical way that keeps the best interest of the bird at heart.

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Conclusion

The Blue-Throated Macaw is a fascinating bird that will definitely keep you on your toes if you’re up for the challenge. However, they are a big commitment of time and money, and it may take time and patience to get your bird used to its home and owners. With proper care and planning, these birds can live for decades, so ensure that you have a plan for your bird listed clearly in your will in case something happens to you.


Featured Image Credit: ambquinn, Pixabay

Brooke Billingsley

Brooke Billingsley spent nine years as a veterinary assistant before becoming a human nurse in 2013. She resides in Arkansas with her boyfriend of five years. She loves all animals and currently shares a home with three dogs, two cats, five fish, and two snails. She has a soft spot for special needs animals and has a three-legged senior dog and an internet famous cat with acromegaly and cerebellar hypoplasia. Fish keeping has become a hobby of Brooke’s and she is continually learning how to give her aquarium pets the best life possible. Brooke enjoys plants and gardening and keeps a vegetable garden during the summer months. She stays active with yoga and obtained her 200-hour yoga teacher certification in 2020. She hosts a podcast focusing on folklore and myth and loves spending her free time researching and writing. Brooke believes that every day is an opportunity for learning and growth and she spends time daily working toward new skills and knowledge.