The Green Wing Macaw (Latin name Ara chloropterus) is one of the best-known parrot species of all. A huge bird, second only to the Hyacinth Macaw, the Green Wing can grow to 90cm in overall length, with an impressively-proportioned beak.
While Green Wing Macaws are sometimes misidentified as Scarlet Macaws, these two species are in fact quite easy to tell apart. While the well-named Green Wing Macaw has a band of green feathers – which sit across the bird’s back when not in flight – these are absent in the Scarlet.
Instead, the Scarlett Macaw has a band of yellow feathers across its back.
Attitude / Personality
The Green Wing Macaw, like most other large parrots, is a long-lived species so it is critical that you carefully consider your responsibilities before buying a parrot. The Green Wing may reach 60 years of age or even more in captivity meaning a long life through which your macaw must be cared for properly.
The Green Wing Macaw is one of the more popular species of parrot in the pet trade due to their personalities. The Green Wing is known to be a friendly and confiding bird, greatly relishing human contact. Most birds quickly build up a strong bond with their owner which can make them tremendously appealing pets. Unlike the squawks of most macaws, the Green Wing also tends to be less vocal, making them more welcome in the home.
Green wing macaws are highly intelligent birds, which means that they can be prone to boredom in captivity. Whilst in the wild they would naturally be exploring their native South American rainforest habitat, searching for food and socializing with other birds, Green Wings can quickly get bored in captivity. Boredom in parrots is something to be avoided, as it can surface in the form of noise, or destructive behaviour.
A range of toys, together with regular contact with people, are therefore critical elements in the welfare of your Green Wing Macaw. It is important to spend quality with your bird each day, and to maintain a large selection of toys that can be cycled through over time to keep things fresh.
Green Wing Macaws are large birds and so require comparatively large cages. Due to the strength of the Green Wing’s bill it is also critical that the cage is made from sturdy material; weaker cages will soon be destroyed for fun.
Many owners opt to allow their birds the run of their home, while keeping the cage open at all times, so their bird can return to the privacy and safety of their cage as desirable.
Arguably green wing macaws are best kept in large aviaries, where they fly freely and behave as naturally as possible.
Whatever the case, environmental enrichment is important. Food items can be hidden around their quarters, or put in challenging locations. Fruit, for example, can be hung from the roof of their cage, encouraging your Green Wing to clamber about in order to access their treat.
Most parrot cages come with standard circular dowel perches, but these are often not the best solution. In the wild parrots will of course clamber about trees, resting on a range of different sized and shaped branches. This activity not only helps to exercise the feet, but can also wear down claws to prevent them becoming overgrown.
For this reason it is wise to consider offering your Green Wing an assortment of different perches within their cage. Either select dowels of varying diameters, or replace/supplement the standard perches with pieces of fruit trees.
Fruit wood is safe for pet birds, and offers more variety to your bird. Interestingly, many parrots will gnaw these branches too, carefully removing the tasty outer bark. In doing so they not only keep their bill under control but also receive entertainment.
In the wild Green Wing Macaws live in the rainforest areas of South America, with a particular stronghold in Peru. Here they fly about feeding on wild fruits and nuts.
In captivity, a good quality parrot mix serves as a useful base to their diet. These mixes typically comprise a variety of seeds, nuts and dried fruits and such a mixture should be available at all times to your pet.
While most of the higher-quality mixes provide a complete diet, many owners opt to supplement their pet’s diet with a range of fresh foods. Most fruits are relished, as are nuts that are provided in their shells. By providing a broad range of fruits and vegetables to your macaw you help to add variety to their life, helping to prevent boredom.
Try to avoid processed foods, so don’t be tempted to feed your macaw leftover human food. Additionally “junk” foods such as chocolate and crisps are best avoided. In terms of fruits and vegetables onions, potatoes & rhubarb should never be fed as these can be toxic to cage birds.
In the wild, macaws are well-known for their flights to river banks. Here they gnaw at mineral-rich soil and rocks. Mineral supplements are just as important in the home, and a sturdy mineral block should be provided to your bird. This helps to control excessive beak growth, keeping your pet in the perfect health.
Lastly, appreciate that birds have a rather different digestive system to mammals. Many large pieces of food are consumed, where they travel to the gizzard for further breakdown. The gizzard is a muscular pouch, typically filled with fine gravel or sand, which is used to “rasp” against the food items.
For this reason, cage birds should also be provided with a container of bird grit. While this may only be used in moderation – and a bag can last for many months – it is essential that your bird has access as and when they require it.