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Home > Birds > Green-Winged Macaw: Traits, History, Food & Care (with Pictures)

Green-Winged Macaw: Traits, History, Food & Care (with Pictures)

Green-winged macaw close up

The Green-Winged Macaw is the second largest species of parrots known to be in existence. At up to 36 inches in length, these birds are impressive in looks and personality. They are known for their social dispositions and interactive personalities, which are just a couple of reasons that they are such popular pets.

Referred to as a gentle giant by many, the Green-Winged Macaw tends to be calm and patient when interacting with human companions. These birds are unique and interesting, which tends to make people extremely interested in them. Here are all the other things that you should know about the Green-Winged Macaw:


Species Overview

green winged macaw close up
Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay
Common Names: Green-Winged Macaw, Green-Wing Macaw, Red-and-Green Macaw
Scientific Name: Ara chloropterus
Adult Size: 32 – 36 inches in length, 3 – 4 pounds
Life Expectancy: 70+ years

Origin and History

These birds originate from both central and northern America, but they live in captivity throughout the entire world. In the wild, the Green-Winged Macaw enjoys spending their time in tropical rainforests where it is moist and humid. They have been captured and kept as pets since the 17th century, but it is not known when this parrot species came into existence or exactly how many of them live in the wild.

However, they were once thought to be endangered, and groups of activists have worked hard to ensure that they remain in existence in the wild. Unfortunately, these birds are hunted for meat and show, which keeps them in the endangered category as far as animals rights and other groups are concerned.


The Green-Winged Macaw is a simple yet caring bird. They tend to gravitate toward their human family members and can get along well with children. This type of bird likes to conversate using words and phrases that they have learned within their environment. It is unclear whether they know exactly what the words mean, but there is a strong sense among owners that their Green-Winged Macaws know exactly what they are saying.

Green-Winged Macaws are easygoing and do not create a cause for alarm when it comes to human handling. They are happy to sit on a hand or arm, and they rarely nip or cause a ruckus unless they feel completely cornered. These birds make for excellent pets within households that have the time and commitment to spend when it comes to caring for them.

  • Large enough to handle handling from young children
  • Known to be highly interactive and social
  • Beautiful and fun-loving
  • Harder to care for than most other pet birds
  • Needs more space to live and play than most other pet birds

Speech & Vocalizations

Green-Winged Macaws love to screech, and they will likely do so multiple times each day, even if they are being well cared for. These screeching periods are encouraged by extreme emotions that include happiness, excitement, loneliness, and boredom. However, these birds are known to screech just for fun, though they will not do so to annoy their owners.

These birds can learn to say all kinds of different words and can even comprehend how to complete full sentences. Some do not talk at all, while others can hold full-on conversations. It all depends on how they are raised. If you want a talkative parrot that is easy to converse with, you should adopt a Green-Winged Macaw when they are still young and eager to learn.


Green-Winged Macaw Colors and Markings

These mighty birds are extremely colorful and lovely to look at. They typically have red shoulders, heads, and chests and display a green lining on their wings and shoulders, which is how they got their name. The wings usually have dark blue hues that expand from the green lining on their wings.

Light blue markings are also found on their tail and back end. Their gray-colored legs and feet are thick and strong. Most birds have small patches of color around their eyes. It is impossible to tell the difference between male and female Green-Winged Macaws without the utilization of DNA testing.

Green-Winged Macaw
Image Credit: Green-winged Macaw, Jim Skovrider, Flickr, Attribution CC 2.0

Caring for the Green-Winged Macaw

The average Green-Winged Macaw is extremely social and prefers to spend their life with at least one other Macaw. However, these birds can do great living alone if they get socialization, interaction, and attention from their human companions. Boredom typically results in destruction, so plenty of time spent with others is crucial.

Green-Winged Macaws require caged habitats of at least 3 feet by 3 feet to spend most of their time in. However, this is a bare minimum, and the bigger the habitat, the happier the bird will be as time goes on. These birds can live outdoors when the weather is warm, but they do well inside year-round too. They should have access to a perch both inside and outside their habitat.

Their habitat should include branches and swings for exercise and mirrors and wooden blocks for playtime. If living indoors, it is a good idea to establish a “bird room,” where the bird can be free and safely explore the space for an hour or two during the day.

Common Health Problems

Unfortunately, Green-Winged Macaws are susceptible to a few serious diseases, just as most Macaws are. Understanding the diseases that are common among this species is important for owners so they are better prepared to identify the signs and symptoms. The diseases that Green-Winged Macaw owners should learn about include:

  • Proventricular Dilation Disease
  • Psittacosis
  • Psittacine Beak-and-Feather Disease

Diet and Nutrition

To understand what Green-Winged Macaws should eat in captivity, it’s important to understand what they eat in the wild for optimal health. These birds happen to munch on seeds, nuts, berries, and other fruits in the wild. They also consume clay, which contains crucial salts and minerals that are necessary for good health. Therefore, pet Green-Winged Macaws should be fed a variety of fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds throughout the week.

To ensure that they get all the nutrients that they require to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle, they should be fed a commercial parrot food mix that contains specialty ingredients designed for optimal health and nutrition. They can also eat a small amount of protein in the form of chicken and fish as treats occasionally. These birds like to be hand-fed whenever possible.

Green-winged macaw close up
Image Credit: duangnapa_b, Shutterstock


These birds are not as active as most other parrot types, but they do require at least 2 hours of exercise each day to stay mentally and physically healthy. This exercise time should be facilitated outside of their caged habitat, where they can stretch their wings and move around to explore new places and things.

It is a good idea to set up an enclosed playpen for outdoor play and exercise when the weather is warm. Any time one of these birds is out of their caged habitat, they should be closely monitored and connected to a leash unless contained indoors with the windows closed.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Green-Winged Macaw

Unfortunately, it is not common for pet shops to carry these beautiful birds. Those looking to buy a Green-Winged Macaw will likely have to seek out a breeder who specializes in Macaws. It is important to have an in-person interview with a breeder to learn more about their practices and the history of their birds before deciding whether to purchase from them. Expect to spend at least $2,500 for one of these pet birds.


Final Thoughts

Green-Winged Macaws are beautiful, majestic creatures that can make excellent pets for families of all types. However, they require a great deal of time and attention, and they cost a pretty penny. Also, these birds can live to be 70 years or older, which means a super long-term care commitment.

Furthermore, the Green-Winged Macaw needs plenty of room to live happily, so they are not suitable for apartment dwellers. Ultimately, the idea of acquiring a Green-Winged Macaw as a pet should be seriously considered by everyone in the household before a final decision is made.

Featured Image Credit: duangnapa_b, Shutterstock

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