Unless you get a Macaw directly from a breeder, it may be tough for you to tell how old the bird is. It is not required to know the age of your pet Macaw to enjoy a lifetime of companionship with one another. However, if you do not know the age of your Macaw, you cannot possibly know how long you should expect your bird to live. Luckily, there are a few features of your bird that you can focus on to determine its approximate age. Here are a few things that can help you determine how old your pet Macaw is.
A Macaw’s feathers can give you an idea of how old it is. Young birds tend to have feathers that are less vibrant than older birds. The vibrancy usually starts to develop upon maturity. Feathers on younger birds also tend to have smoother feathers than older birds. As a bird ages, its feathers get worn and more fragile.
You may notice that your bird’s feathers start to break off or split as they get older, which is something that rarely happens in younger birds. However, there are no hard-and-fast rules as to how a Macaw’s feathers should look at any given time during its life. So, inspecting your Macaw’s feathers can give you a clue as to its age but will not provide you with a definitive answer.
The color of a Macaw’s irises can be a great indication of its age. Young Macaws start with darker-colored irises, usually brown. Once a bird turns about a year old, its irises will have turned a lighter grey color. The irises turn white between the ages of 1 and 3 years old. Then at about the age of 3, the irises start to turn yellow.
Not only can your Macaw’s eyes give you clues to its age, but they can also offer signs that the bird has been affected by any diseases. Eyes that are glossy or cloudy or that are growing lesions could be an indicator that your bird is suffering from problems such as cataracts, conjunctivitis, Marek’s disease, avian pox, or uveitis. If any changes or inconsistencies are observed in your bird’s eyes, it is important to make an appointment with a vet.
3. The Beak
A Macaw’s beak color may slightly change as it gets older, but this subtle change is hard to spot unless you pay close attention to the beak as time goes on. Depending on the type of Macaw in question, a young bird might have a dark or light beak. If a young bird’s beak is dark, the beak will become lighter as it ages. If a bird’s beak is light while still young, it will likely turn darker with age.
The actual color of the beak does not matter when it comes to determining age. It’s the subtle lightening or darkening over time that offers the clues that you are looking for. Therefore, it is important to inspect your bird’s beak daily and take notes about any differences that you notice for later reference. With any luck, you can gauge and keep track of your bird’s age after a year or so.
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4. Activity Level
Another thing to pay attention to when trying to determine your Macaw’s age is its activity level. Younger Macaws are extremely active and do not spend much of their time lounging around. Instead, they tend to swing, talk, whistle, explore their surroundings, and play with whatever toys they have.
As Macaws get older, their activity levels tend to start declining. While a 2-year-old bird will stay active all day long, a senior bird will spend much of its time resting and not moving around much. A middle-aged bird may spend just as much time relaxing as they do being active.
5. Working With Your Veterinarian
Your veterinarian should be able to help you determine how old your Macaw is. Based on things such as the bird’s weight, the condition of its body and legs, and its blood work, your vet can provide you with an educated determination about how old your Macaw is. They will not be able to tell you the bird’s age to the exact day, but they should be able to give you a close estimate that can be relied on when making care decisions for your bird.
The methods mentioned here can all be used to determine the age of your pet Macaw. Utilizing more than one method will give you the best results, but you should be able to get an idea of your bird’s age by using just one method. Work with your veterinarian if possible. They can give you pointers on what to look for when checking your Macaw’s feathers, beak, and eyes.
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Featured Image Credit: Erika Kirkpatrick, Shutterstock