Scarlet Macaw

Native to South and Central America, the Scarlet macaw will captivate you with its vibrant personality and beauty! This large parrot is intelligent and affectionate which makes it a great companion for you and your family.

Here, we cover the Scarlet macaw in detail to see if this is the right parrot for you!birdcage divider

Species Overview

Scarlet Macaw

Common Name: red macaw
Scientific name: Ara macao (two subspecies: Ara macao cyanoptera in Central America, Ara macao macao in South America)
Adult Size: Approx. 89 cm (35 inches)
Life expectancy: Around 50 years or so

Origin and History

Native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, the Scarlet macaw is the largest parrot in the world. It thrives in humid environments at elevations of about 1,000 to 3,000 feet. The crimson color dwells in the topmost layers of trees, taking advantage of the thickness of the forest to protect itself from predators. Depending on the region, the Scarlet macaw has different subspecies classified by size and color.

Due to its size and habitat, the Scarlet macaw is not easy to prey on, but active conservation efforts such as The World Parrot Trust formed in 1989 are being implemented by various organizations due to deforestation and poaching.


While they initially attract attention with their colorful fur, it doesn’t take long for you to discover that their personalities are colorful too! The Scarlet Macaw is an energetic and intelligent bird. In the wild, Scarlet macaws live in small flocks, but are monogamous in terms of bonds. Because of this, they tend to form affectionate bonds with their owners and are known to be good friends.

Because of Scarlet’s need for companionship, they are required to receive a lot of attention and interaction on a daily basis to avoid neurotic or aggressive behavior. Proper socialization is also necessary because they can become “one man” birds due to their monogamous nature. They can also be noisy and like all macaws, Scarlets can learn to talk too so be prepared for a big talkative bird seeking attention in the house. With proper training, socialization, and interaction, Scarlet macaws make great pets and companions!


  • These birds are very friendly and affectionate towards their families.

  • Highly intelligent and fun-loving, they can learn how to talk and do tricks.

  • They have a long life (50 years or more) and are beautiful in appearance.


  • Can be loud and require excessive attention and can lead to aggressive or self-destructive behavior.
  • Can be expensive due to health, care, and food issues.
  • Will require regular cleaning due to its size.

Speeches & Vocalizations

With an eye-catching appearance like the Scarlet macaw, this bird needn’t talk! But, like other macaws, Scarlet is a very competent and confident conversationalist. They are intelligent, so they love to learn tricks and can actually have a vocabulary of up to 5-10 words and phrases. These birds like to be the center of attention and they may scream more than they talk.

However, the Scarlet macaw can be very noisy so if you are sensitive to loud noises or live in an apartment/condo, then this bird might not be recommended for you.birdcage divider

Scarlet Macaw Colors and Marks

red macaw looking down

The Scarlet Macaw gets its name from its appearance and is considered one of the most eye-catching beautiful birds in the world. The Scarlet macaw’s body is predominantly bright red, with blue and yellow feathers around the edges of its wings. Small green stripes can also be found where blue and yellow meet. Scarlet’s face is creamy white around the eyes and the beak is horn-colored, with the underside of the beak being black. The combination of beauty and personality makes the Scarlet macaw a good choice for experienced pet owners and beginners alike!

Scarlet Macaws have minor differences depending on where they come from. Mexican Scarlets are smaller and less yellow around the wings, while South American Scarlets are slightly larger and more yellow in the wings. The Central American Scarlet is considered the most beautiful, it has more blue than green on the wings and a wide yellow band.birdcage divider

Caring for a Scarlet Macaw

eat red macaw

Activities and Housing

Being a large bird, the Scarlet macaw needs a larger cage than usual. This will require room to move around and playtime outside the cage each day. Scarlet macaws are active birds, so be sure to provide toys and swings so they can play and chew. Scarlet macaws have a tendency to injure themselves when placed in confined spaces if not given a chance to chew and play, so try to provide the best possible environment for you Scarlet!


Red macaws, in the wild, live in flocks but are monogamous in terms of bonds. It is not necessary to have more than one Scarlet, but regular interaction and attention is necessary as they can also develop neurotic and aggressive behavior if not properly socialized. Being monogamous in nature, they can develop into one-man birds, so it is important to socialize with different people and situations at a very young age.

Self care

Bathing can be done with a light hose or gentle spraying with warm water once a week. Weather trimming of their main wings is also recommended to prevent them from flying out of doors or windows, but not enough so that they are less likely to fall. Due to its large size, Scarlet also always defecate, so it is recommended that the cage be scrubbed and cleaned regularly so that your house does not smell bad and also to maintain a clean environment for your Scarlet macaw.

General Health Problems

  • Macaw Wasting Syndrome

  • Psicattine beak and febrile illness

  • Malocclusion of the beak/beak that is too large

Scarlet macaws are prone to many health complications which can stem from both pathological and non-pathological causes. Although vulnerable, however, they can be prevented with proper care and diet!

They are prone to diseases such as Macaw Wasting Syndrome which affects the digestive and nervous systems, infections such as parrot and Psicattine beak fever and febrile illnesses. They are also susceptible to other nutritional diseases, so it is recommended that they are provided with a high quality, balanced diet and a clean environment to prevent these diseases.

Macaws are generally prone to self-mutilating behavior when they feel neglected, stressed, or when they lack mental stimulation so providing your Scarlet with a loving environment is important. They are also prone to beak/beak malocclusion, which can be prevented by providing them with toys to chew on.

Diet and Nutrition

In the rainforest, Scarlet macaws have powerful beaks that allow them to eat nuts, seeds, berries and leaves. As pets, Scarlets generally have a similar diet which can be easily obtained through a high quality parrot mix consisting of a variety of seeds, nuts, and dried fruits. There are a variety of high-quality parrot mixes to be found on, so it’s worth experimenting and finding out which one your Scarlet macaw prefers!

In addition to the parrot mix, it is recommended to add fresh fruit and vegetables. Avocados and chocolate should be avoided as they are toxic to the Scarlet macaw and can cause health complications.

On average, Scarlet macaws will consume 10-15% of their body weight each day, usually 1-1 cups of food each day. It is recommended that they be fed in the morning, and that fresh fruits and vegetables that are not eaten after an hour are discarded to prevent your birds from eating spoiled food.

red macaw up close


By nature, the Scarlet macaw is a naturally active bird. With their energy and size, they need ample space to move and stretch their muscles. It is recommended that your Scarlet macaw receive 2-5 hours of playtime outdoors each day so that they can burn off their energy and give them opportunities to move and socialize.

Their cage should be on the larger side, and providing a play gym, swing, or cargo net inside the cage is also advisable to give them a chance to move around while in the cage.

In addition to moving, the Scarlet macaw loves to chew. Giving them a rotation of toys to chew on is recommended to meet your Scarlet’s chewing needs and also improve beak health!

Where to Adopt or Buy a Scarlet Macaw

Like most macaws, you can buy a Scarlet macaw through a specialty poultry shop or through a bird breeder such as Bird Breeders. They can cost around $3,000-$6,000 and can vary depending on the history of the bird, breeder, care, and many different factors.

When deciding to buy your own Scarlet, it is very important to interview your seller and do a background check on both the bird and the seller. Important questions may include the breeder’s credibility, the history of the seller and the bird, the reasons for selling the bird, and the bird’s behavior or health complications.

Since there are many conservation efforts for Scarlet macaws due to poaching and deforestation, you can also adopt a Scarlet macaw through rescue or adoption agencies such as Free Flight Birds, Adopt a Pet, and Toucan Rescue Ranch.birdcage divider


The Scarlet macaw is considered to be one of the most beautiful birds in the world, and along with its beauty comes a very charming personality! Due to the social demands and activity of the Scarlet macaw, this bird may not be recommended for people in apartment complexes or for those who are rarely at home. But if you’re willing to commit to the demands that come with caring for a Scarlet macaw, they’re sure to make great pets and make great companions in the end!

Featured Image Credit: Angie Toh, Pixabay

Scarlet Macaw
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