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Home > Birds > Severe (Chestnut-Fronted) Macaw: Traits, History & Care (with Pictures)

Severe (Chestnut-Fronted) Macaw: Traits, History & Care (with Pictures)

Severe Macaw close up shot

A beautiful bird native to South America, the Severe (Chestnut-Fronted) Macaw Bird is a popular pet choice for many. It’s a parrot native to Central and South America, specifically living in pairs or flocks within tropical forests. The severe macaw is the biggest of the “mini macaws.”

It has a large beak used for cracking nuts and seeds and eating fruits as well.

These intelligent and curious birds can live up to 80 years with proper care.

The Severe macaw’s scientific name is Ara Severus, and it comes from the word ‘severus,’ which means severe. The bird received this name because of its appearance when squawking or while trying to protect its territory.

If you’re considering getting one of these beauties as your next pet, this blog post will cover some of the basics of this species, such as personality traits, food intake requirements, and general care information.divider-bird

Species Overview

Severe Macaw
Image Credit: Severe Macaw, Chiar DAmico, Shutterstock
Common Names: Severe Macaw, Chestnut-Fronted Macaw
Scientific Name: Name: Ara severus
Adult Size: 17–19 inches
Life Expectancy: 60–80 years

Origin and History

They are initially from an area that stretches from Nicaragua to Colombia. They are also found in Panama and Brazil, though their numbers have dwindled due to habitat destruction by deforestation.

The Severe macaw’s ancestors were parrots that existed before being separated into two main groups during the Pleistocene era (an epoch lasting from about 2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago). These groups became the Conures and Macaws.

The first of these two groups to split was the group that evolved into the Conures, which are typically smaller in size than the New World parrots (the remaining larger birds) such as macaws.

The second group became known as the macaws, which are larger and have a less diverse beak shape.

The severe macaw is most closely related to the Military Macaw, but they look entirely different from one another. They are also very similar in both appearance and behavior to the Blue-throated Macaw. The Blue-throated Macaw can be trained to talk, while the severe macaw is not known for having that ability.


Severe macaws are not as serious as their name implies. They enjoy climbing and playing with various toys and games. They are very playful birds and need something to keep them busy at all times.

If you don’t give your bird enough attention or proper care, then they can develop behavior issues that may be hard to correct later on in life. The severe macaw is also known for being quite the prankster while it’s out of its cage! It will find ways to turn anything into a toy, whether a paper towel roll or broomstick.

They tend to have a lot of energy which can cause them to squawk loudly when they’re bored; this can become an issue because they tend to have some pretty long-winded conversations!

With proper training and socialization, the severe macaw can become a very affectionate pet for someone willing to put in the time needed for it to learn how to interact with humans properly. If you have kids, make sure that they can handle such a big bird.

Severe macaws like having their freedom, so an aviary is the best type of enclosure for your pet; however, if you don’t have enough room in your backyard to build an aviary, then you can use indoor flight cages instead.

  • Bright, colorful feathers
  • Affectionate and kind
  • Easily trainable
  • Thrives better in large environments, like an aviary
  • Constantly needs attention
  • More challenging to handle than other birds
chestnut fronted macaw
Image Credit: crbellette, Shutterstock

Speech & Vocalizations

Chestnut-fronted macaws usually are quite loud. They can get even louder when they are excited about something.

The males will usually make some cawing sounds, but it’s not nearly as obnoxious as what the female birds will do. The male’s calls sound more like whistles, and the females overall just have a shriller voice which is a little harder to listen to for long periods.

Severe macaws are considered one of the quieter species in comparison to other macaws, so if you’re looking for a parrot that talks very frequently, then this is probably not the right bird for you. Along with their less frequent speaking patterns comes an even lower ability to mimic human speech, which may turn away many potential owners.

However, they have an extensive vocabulary and are very capable of understanding pretty much anything they hear. This skill makes them excellent candidates for the pet trade (if you can manage to tame one) because it’s not too difficult to teach them how to say certain things or perform an action when given a command in human language.

They love being able to show off their talents in front of people, so having these birds perform tricks or simple commands such as “come here” is always going to be met with enthusiastic replies by your bird.

You might also experience some more unusual noises, including teeth chattering or grinding and guttural growls from this particular species. These sounds are most common during the breeding season, though, so don’t panic if you hear them at other times!divider-bird

Severe (Chestnut-Fronted) Macaw Colors and Markings

Severe Macaw
Image Credit: Tracy Starr, Shutterstock

The Chestnut-fronted macaw is recognizable by a brown patch on its forehead, right in the middle of its white face. The body is made up of various shades of green, red, and blue. You will find shades of yellow or orange on the wings in a gradient-like pattern; the primary colors for these beautiful birds to look at all come from their bright orange beaks!

These particular macaws also have some pretty adorable baby feathers, which range from white to gray. They look very fluffy until they start to grow and sharpen in color. Even then, they still have the adorable baby look because they are smaller than their adult counterparts and more energetic!

Caring for the Severe (Chestnut-Fronted) Macaw

The Chestnut-fronted macaw is an excellent pet for someone who likes affection and fun. Macaws are a little harder to tame than other bird species, but once you’ve earned their trust, you’ll have a fun and entertaining companion!

If you plan on keeping another bird besides your severe macaw in the same aviary or living space, make sure that they like having company. There are instances where macaws will try to dominate the area and get aggressive, so keep that in mind if you plan on adding more birds into your household.

Do not put your severe macaw out of sight for long periods! It needs a lot of attention and affection, so try to spend as much time with it as possible. If you have any other questions about caring for this particular parrot species, be sure to contact one of the many experts out there that specialize in macaw care

Common Health Problems

The best way to prevent any of these health issues from affecting your pet bird is through regular checkups, good nutrition, and plenty of attention. It’s also important to note that both of these diseases are very difficult to treat once they start spreading throughout the body, so it’s way better to catch any issues early on!

Severe or Chestnut-fronted Macaw
Image Credit: Karl Dean Anderson, Shutterstock

Diet and Nutrition

When it comes to feeding a severe macaw, there isn’t much room for experimentation. They need a particular diet that has been created especially to keep them healthy and beyond.

It’s essential to regulate their calorie intake and stop serving them before they’re full – otherwise, you might find yourself having to deal with a slew of problems!

You can also supplement your bird’s diet with fresh vegetables such as

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potato
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn on the cob

The list goes on depending on what vegetables you have. Just be sure that they’re raw because cooked vegetables can cause damage to their digestive system!

Fruits are also an excellent way to supplement your bird’s diet.

Their favorite fruits include:
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapples
  • Grapes

We always recommend washing off the seeds before serving them, though – they might choke on them!

It’s best to set up a routine when it comes to mealtimes, so make sure that you stick with this schedule as much as possible. As long as you keep them fed and happy throughout the day, your pet will become tamer and more trusting of its surroundings.


A good way to stimulate your pet bird is through playtime. It’s important to try new things from time to time, just in case they get bored with them! You can purchase many toys at local stores and online that will keep the pets entertained for hours on end.

Always keep in mind that these birds are considered “escape artists,” so you have to make sure that they can’t get away from their cage or aviary through any means necessary. You’ll want to regularly check the locks on their doors and make sure that everything is working properly! This way, your pet bird will stay safe and sound while you’re not around!

Your pet also needs to fly every day to stay in good health, so make sure that you have a large area for it to fly around when it’s out of the cage. Many owners set up play areas for their birds and put them on the ceiling via flying harnesses! That way, the bird can get all of its energy out without having to worry about damaging anything.

It would be best if you also used toys as a way to let your pet exercise its beak – this is one of the most important parts of caring for a severe macaw because, without proper beak care, your bird could start biting inadvertently.

Severe Macaw Parrot
Image Credit: Tracy Starr, Shutterstock

Where to Adopt or Buy a Severe (Chestnut-Fronted) Macaw

Ensure that you’re purchasing your bird from a reputable breeder, especially if you want assurance that it is indeed a Chestnut-fronted macaw. These birds will usually be sold at a high price, and you need to be sure that you aren’t getting ripped off.

If you cannot find a breeder in your area, there are some places online where you can purchase them from individuals who have bred them. However, these birds can go for upwards of $1,000 on the internet! That’s not including the shipping fees – so you’ll need to make sure that you’re getting a good deal before buying one.

Otherwise, check your local area for animal shelters and adoption centers. These places usually have birds that have been rescued or are in trouble with their owners. There’s no guarantee that they’ll be Chestnut-fronted macaws, but they are worth looking into!


Final Thoughts

A severe macaw is an ideal bird for a pet owner with time to spend on grooming, but they are not the best option if you’re looking for something that requires minimal effort. They need lots of attention and care because they can be destructive without it!

If you have room in your house or apartment and some extra cash, then these birds will make a great addition to your family. Plus, their intelligence only makes them more lovable as pets!

If you want to learn more about why birds make fascinating pets, we have a whole section dedicated to them on our blog. Check it out!

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Featured Image Credit: Tracy Starr, Shutterstock

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