What do macaws eat, and what is their natural habitat?

We all love macaws, a family of 17 species of vividly coloured parrots with impressive beaks, long tapering tails, and a reputation for extraordinary intelligence. Although they are often kept as pets, macaws thrive even more in the wild because of their independence!

The two types of macaws are known as “Large Macaws” and “Mini Macaws.” The Blue & Yellow Macaw, Hyacinth, and Scarlet Macaw are examples of Large Macaws.  Whereas, Blue-headed Macaw and Golden-collared Macaw are examples of Mini Macaws.

What do Macaws eat?

Macaws mainly follow a plant-based diet in the wild. However, they are known to be omnivorous creatures. Here we have listed a variety of foods that Macaws like to eat.

  • Seeds and nuts: This can be anything from the seeds of vegetables to fruits and every type of nut. However, the favourite seeds and nuts of Macaws are sunflower seeds, peanuts, cashew nuts and almonds. Macaws generally like any seed with a lot of fatty content! Also, the large beaks of the macaws come into play when eating nuts; they can crack the nuts and use their tongue to get the nut meat out effectively unlike most other birds.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Around 20% of what Macaws eats consists of fruits and vegetables. Their favourites are bananas, apples, berries, peaches, raisins, and watermelon when it comes to fruits, whereas vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers and sweet potatoes are preferred.
  • Flowers: Macaws tend to eat flowers when other food sources are not available in the forests. The most preferred ones are Sunflowers, Daisies, Hibiscus and Violets!
  • Insects: Macaws get their proteins from eating insects like grasshoppers, beetles, cockroaches and snails.
  • Other small animals: Macaws are also large enough to hunt for other small animals like mice, rats and lizards.
  • Clay: Yes, you heard it right, Macaws do eat clay! This is usually seen in exposed river banks of nature reserves, where hundreds of macaws gather daily to lick clay. The largest such clay lick is the one that’s found in Tambopata Nature Reserve. Although researchers are not sure what causes this clay-licking behaviour, they believe it is a way to get sodium into their diet.

What is the Natural Habitat of Macaws?

Macaws are native to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Additionally, it was discovered that the Caribbean region once had native macaw species, including the extinct Cuban macaw and Saint Croix macaw. The glaucous macaw is now thought to be extinct in the wild, with only two sightings in the last century, just like the Spix’s Macaw. Deforestation and illegal capturing of birds have been highlighted as the biggest threats to the extinction of macaws.

The natural habitat of macaws varies depending on the species. Some species preferring rainforests and others preferring places like grassy woodlands. Macaws can also be seen in great numbers in the jungles of Peru, with reports of seeing hundreds of various species in one place, especially in the Manu Macaws Clay Lick and Tambopata Macaw Clay Licks.

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