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Male or Female Macaw? How to Identify the Differences

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell the difference between a male and female Macaw, as is the case for most parrot species. The task is not impossible, but certain tools, experts, and resources are required if you want to be sure of what sex your Macaws happen to be. Knowing the sex of your Macaws is important for breeding purposes, whether you want to breed your Macaws or preventing them from breeding altogether. Here is everything that you need to know about figuring out whether your Macaws are male or female.divider-birdcage

Basic Signs of a Macaw’s Sex

Red Macaw Side view_ Gaston Piccinetti_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Gaston Piccinetti, Shutterstock

While you cannot count on the visual signs of a Macaw’s sex, they can still lend insight into which sex you might be dealing with. Before resorting to medical sexing options, you can keep an eye out for the following signs to make an educated guess as to what your Macaw’s sex is.

Here is what to look for when trying to determine the sex of a Macaw:
  • Head: Most Macaw enthusiasts insist that a male’s head is a little larger and flatter than a female’s head.
  • Beak: It is thought that female Macaws have narrower beaks than their male counterparts.
  • Size: It is said that male Macaws are a little larger than female Macaws are, although the difference is slight.

These are not full-proof methods for determining the sex of a Macaw. They are simply observations that have been made by breeders and owners over the years. A female may have a larger head than a male, and a male might have a narrower beak than a female. Some females are larger than males too, so none of these signs should be taken as proof of a Macaw’s sex. That said, there are a couple of foolproof methods that can be used to determine the sex of a Macaw. Here are the basics.

Determining Sex Through DNA Testing

Lears macaw parrot
Image Credit: Sandro Riedmann Shutterstock

DNA testing is the most popular method of determining a Macaw’s sex. The process is non-invasive, effective, and reliable. DNA testing companies claim that their results are 99.9% reliable, so the chance that your Macaw ends up being the opposite sex than what the DNA results say is minimal. Feathers can be used for DNA testing, but they are not as reliable as blood DNA tests.

Many companies offer direct DNA testing. All you must do is send a sample of your Macaw’s blood to the company, and it will provide you with the results of your bird’s sex within about a week. You can also learn other things about your bird from DNA testing, such as genetic disease susceptibility, immune system responses, and immunity assays.

The Surgical Sexing Option

This method of sexing Macaws involves making a surgical incision near the area where gonads can be found. If gonads are detected inside the incision area, an expert can confidently determine that a Macaw is a male. If no gonads are found, then it is safe to say that the bird is a female. The problem with this sexing method is that it is invasive and can result in infections.

The advantage of this option is that it is quick and reliable, so you can know whether your Macaw is a male or female in a matter of minutes. Working with a qualified veterinarian is crucial to ensure the health and safety of any Macaw that you decide to expose to surgical sexing. This procedure should always be done by a professional and in a safe, secure, and sanitary location.

Spix’s Macaw two side view_Danny Ye_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Danny Ye, Shutterstock

Does It Matter What Sex a Macaw Is?

The truth is that it does not matter what a Macaw’s sex is unless they live with other Macaws that they could possibly mate with. If you do not know the sex of your Macaws that are living together, chances are that you could end up with babies that you did not anticipate being born. If a Macaw is living on their own or in a separate habitat than their companions, it does not matter much what their sex is. Both males and females are interactive, intelligent, sociable, and interactive with their human companions. So, unless breeding is a concern, both sexes make wonderful pets.divider-birdcage

Final Thoughts

The Macaw is a majestic, interesting animal that deserves love and respect no matter what sex they happen to be. There is no need to worry about sex when buying a single Macaw because both sexes are just as fun and interesting. But if you plan to keep more than one Macaw and want to breed or avoid breeding, knowing the sex of your Macaws can make all the difference.

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Featured Image Credit: TizzleBDizzle, Pixabay

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.