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Ruby Macaw

Nicole Cosgrove

The Ruby Macaw is a hybrid parrot, a cross between the Scarlet Macaw and Green-Winged Macaw. These beautiful birds are somewhat similar to Green-Winged Macaws in appearance, but with additional orange and yellow feathers on their backs and wings. These birds are first-generation hybrids, meaning that they are a cross between two parent species that occur naturally in the wild but are bred entirely in captivity.

Ruby Macaws are arguably the most beautiful species of Macaw, and they have wonderful personalities too! In this article, we take a detailed look at these gorgeous birds and provide tips on how to care for them. Let’s get started!divider-birdcage

Species Overview

Common Names: Ruby Macaw
Scientific Name: Ara chloropterus x Ara macao
Adult Size: 33–35 inches
Life Expectancy: 60–80 years

Origin and History

Green-Winged Macaws are the second-largest parrot species, reaching up to 40 inches tall. They are native to the tropical forests of Central and Southern America but have been kept as pets for hundreds of years and have been successfully bred in captivity since the early 19th century.

Also native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, Scarlet Macaws prefer higher elevations than Green-Winged Macaws in humid evergreen forests. While it is possible that these two species may meet and breed in the wild, it’s highly unlikely, and all Ruby Macaws available as pets are bred purposely in captivity.

The natural habitat of both these birds is under threat due to deforestation, and the Scarlet Macaw is becoming endangered. It’s illegal to import both of these birds to the United States, as commercial trade of Macaws is forbidden, and any birds for sale in the U.S. are captive bred.

Temperament

The Ruby Macaw is bred largely for their appearance rather than their personality and can inherit the personality traits of either of their parent breeds. They are typically not as laidback and docile as Green-Winged Macaws, but they certainly inherit a few of the traits that Green-Winged parrots are known for, including loads of affection and close bonding with their owners. They are playful and inquisitive birds that love to explore their environment and surroundings and are known to be rather mischievous at times! They also inherit the intelligence and high energy of their Scarlet Macaw parents and have an abundance of comical personality.

Hybrid parrots are always a surprise when it comes to their temperament, as they can inherit both aspects of their parent breeds or be somewhere right down the middle. In general, Ruby Macaws are what you’d expect most Macaws to be: intelligent, playful, affectionate, and occasionally mischievous!

Pros
  • Long lifespan
  • Beautiful appearance
  • Affectionate
  • Social
  • Intelligent
Cons
  • Loud and noisy
  • Attention-demanding
  • Expensive

Speech & Vocalizations

Like most Macaws, Ruby Macaws are extremely loud, especially in the early morning and evening, so they are not ideal pets if you have neighbors close by. They are known to screech and scream when they get excited, feel threatened, or simply want your attention! Neither the Green-Winged or Scarlet Macaw is known for having large vocabularies or mimicking abilities, but with the right training, Ruby Macaws can learn 15–20 words and phrases.divider-birdcage

Ruby Macaw Colors and Markings

The colors and markings of your Ruby Macaw will depend on the male parent species, as he carries the dominant genes. If the male is a Green-Wing, the offspring look similar to the Green-Wing Macaw, in size and plumage. The wings and back may vary slightly, with varying amounts of yellow and orange and edging of gorgeous iridescent blues. Aside from this coloring in the wings, these birds are similar to and often mistaken for Green-Wings.

If the father is a Scarlet Macaw, their coloring will be similar, although the offspring will be closer in size to the Scarlet and have less facial feathering. No matter the dominant coloring, though, Ruby Macaws are often agreed to be one of the most strikingly beautiful Macaw species, and once you see one, it’s difficult to disagree!

Caring for the Ruby Macaw

There is no difference in the care of a Ruby Macaw than any other Macaw species — they require the same housing, feeding, and interaction as any other Macaw. These parrots are large, have long lifespans, and need a great deal of attention and interaction, and thus, they are a massive responsibility to undertake. Macaws are intelligent birds that need plenty of regular mental stimulation and physical activity. They are social animals that need regular interaction with their owners but are better kept alone because they can become territorial if kept with other Macaws.

They need large cages of at least 3 by 3 feet, but the bigger, the better. They need at least 3–4 hours of time outside their cage every day too. They can get bored easily, resulting in destructive behavior and feather plucking. Interaction, toys such as perches and swings, and time outside their cage are vital to their mental and physical health.

Common Health Problems

  • Proventricular dilatation disease
  • Psittacine feather disease
  • Psittacosis
  • Beak malocclusion.

Diet and Nutrition

The best diet for a Ruby Macaw is specially formulated parrot pellets, as these will provide for all your Macaw’s nutritional requirements. Of course, they’ll love seed mixes too, and they have beaks built to crack open nuts and seeds, but these contain a large amount of fat and should make up no more than 20% of their daily diet. These birds can also occasionally eat fresh fruits and vegetables as treats for variety and additional nutrition.

Exercise

In the wild, these birds fly dozens of miles every day and climb up and down branches foraging for food. In captivity, you’ll need to try to replicate this activity by giving your Macaw plenty of time outside of their cage and various branches, perches, swings, and other toys to play with. Chew toys will help them exercise their powerful beaks, and plenty of cage space will enable them to stretch their wings.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Ruby Macaw

Ruby Macaws are not as common as their parent species and can be difficult and expensive to purchase. The best place to find them is through avian pet stores or through reputable breeders, where they can range from $2,000–$5,000, depending on the breeder and availability, although the average cost is around $3,000.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to find a Ruby Macaw in need of a home through an adoption agency or rescue organization, as many owners buy a Macaw without understanding the massive responsibility that they are committing to. Not only will it cost you less when getting a Macaw through one of these organizations, but you’ll also be giving a bird in need a loving home.divider-birdcage

Conclusion

Arguably one of the most beautiful Macaws, the Ruby Macaw was developed for their striking appearance. The breeders certainly succeeded, as the orange, red, and blue plumage of these Macaws is beyond compare. They have wonderful temperaments too, inheriting the best aspects of both their parent breeds, resulting in a docile, intelligent, and affectionate bird.

These birds have large care requirements and exceedingly long lifespans and are certainly a huge responsibility to undertake. If all their needs are met, though, they will give you a lifetime of unique companionship that is not found with any other pet.


Featured Image Credit: Ara chloroptère – Ara chloropterus,Cri.84, Flickr, Attribution CC 2.0

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.