Blue and Gold Macaw
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. blue and gold macaw  Information updated on 22 July 2005
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    blue and gold macaw photo
  • Scientific Name:  Ara ararauna                                             (Click on photo to enlarge)
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin:  No
  • Origin / Distribution:  Northern part of South America.
  • Habitat In Wild:  Tropical rainforest and surrounding secondary vegetation.  Also inhabit mangrove swamps and savannah.  Some parts of their range include Buriti groves and the ripe and semi ripe fruits from these palms make up a significant portion of their diet.
  • Status In Wild:  Secure in areas of undisturbed habitat, but declining in areas subject to habitat destruction and trapping.
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity:  Rare and expensive.
  • Age To Sexual Maturity:  About 4 - 5 years
  • Adult plumage: Attained at by the time they leave the nest.
  • Best breeding years (estimate): 6th year onwards.  Some hens may lay in their 3rd or  4th year of age.
  • Lifespan (estimate): approx. 25 or more years. Very long lived birds, 50 plus years can be achieved.
  • Sexing: Monomorphic / Dimorphic
  • Colour mutations:  None in Australia, but mutations have occurred overseas.
  • Availability: Specialist breeders.
  • Temperament: It is becoming fashionable to have a hand-raised one as a pet. Can be noisy birds during the breeding season.  Usually noisy at sunrise and at sunset.  Blue and Gold Macaws have a popularity equal to that of the African Grey Parrot.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx.) $12,500 but can vary widely.
  • Description Of Adults: The tiny feather tracts on the bird's face is unique to each bird and may be useful to identify individual birds.
  1. Length: Approx. 820 - 860 mm (or approx. 32 - 34 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photo above       (Click on photo to enlarge).
  3. Weight: Approx. 1000 - 1400 gms (or approx. 36 - 50 ozs)
  4. Photo courtesy of Living Jungle Pet Warehouse, Dandenong, Victoria.
Aviary Notes:

Level Of Knowledge Required: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws: Refer to " Government Laws " web page.

Housing Requirements: Refer to " Macaws " web page for general details on the housing of Macaws or read on for specific details for this parrot.

Prefer a large aviary of up to 8 metres (25 feet) long.  An aviary 10 metres (30 feet) long and 2 metre (7 feet) wide is ideal.  Can be housed and bred in a strong suspended cage if they have access to a large aviary during the non-breeding season.

To help relieve boredom and as a way of providing exercise, suitable bird toys and "bird play gyms" can be placed in the aviary.  Most bird toys are designed to be chewed up and will require replacing after the birds have reduced them to splinters.  Aviary breeding birds will enjoy playing with and destroying bird toys just as much as pet birds.

Suitable non-toxic leafy branches can be placed in the aviary for the birds to chew up. This will entertain the birds, help minimize boredom and give the birds some beak exercise. Natural branches can be used for perches. These natural perches will be chewed by the birds and may need to be replaced regularly.

A pet or companion bird kept in a cage will require a period of regular time outside the cage so they can get adequate exercise and maintain good health and fitness.

Diet / Feeding: Refer to " Macaws " web page for general details on the feeding of Macaws or read on for specific details for this parrot.

In the wild these birds visit special clay banks to consume the mineral rich soil.  The clays are thought to neutralize some toxic compounds in their natural diet.  The clays may provide some minerals and trace elements necessary for good health.

The Blue and Gold Macaw natural diet include a variety of fruits, berries, nuts, flower and leaf buds, vegetable material and some insects.

The aviary diet include a variety of fruits and vegetables along with nuts, seeds, sprouted or soaked seeds, leafy green vegetables and greenfoods such as chickweed and dandelion.  Many parrots will eat insects such as grubs and mealworm larvae, pupa and mealworm beetles.   Supplementary feeds, calcium food additives and mineral and vitamin supplements as directed by veterinary advice.

Commercial Parrot pellets can form part of a balanced food intake.

The feed bowls should be fixed in place or made unmovable.  Loose bowls will often be upturned or played with as a toy or play item.

Nesting:  A basic overview only.  Dimensions are typical / average and can vary widely, influenced by the owner's preferences and the birds preferences.  Parent bird's preferences can also be influenced by the size and type of nest-box / log in which the bird was hatched and reared.  If space allows, offering a choice of sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes, and placed in various locations within the aviary, can allow the parent birds to make their own choice.  Once a pair has chosen a specific nest-box/log and been successful in it, offer that one to them each breeding season.  Try and keep that one for their exclusive use.  Once a pair has chosen its log or nest-box, the other ones can generally be removed.  If the "spare" boxes are to be removed and moved to another flight, ensure the log / nest-box is cleaned to ensure the receptacle has the minimal contamination of mites, parasites and pathogens.

  • Nesting months:
  • Log / Nest-box:
    • Length / depth 1000 mm (or approx. 40 inches)
    • Log internal diameter approx. 600 mm. (or approx. 24 inches)
    • Nest-box internal dimensions approx.600 mm square (or approx. 24 inches square)
    • Diameter of entrance hole approx. 225 mm (or approx. 9 inches)
    • Inspection hole (square or round) 100 - 150 mm (or approx 4 - 6 inches)
    • A removable top / lid can be a useful access point for inspections and for cleaning.
    • Location and height of log / nest-box = Usually at mid height under the sheltered portion of the aviary, but may be higher but not too close to the roof to cause heat problems in the hotter months.
    • Angle of log or nest box = Usually vertical or near vertical but can be on any angle through to horizontal.
  • Nesting log / nest-box material: Decomposed non-toxic saw dust, wood shavings or other suitable material/s.
  • Who incubates the egg/s:  Hen / cock / both share.

It is important to have a strong "chew proof" ladder (10 gauge wire mesh is often used ) on the inside of the nest box, below the entry hole to allow the birds to climb down to the floor of the nest instead of jumping.  The internal ladder is essential in nest boxes that are in a vertical or near vertical position.  The ladder also allows the birds to easily and safely exit the nest.  With nests placed in a horizontal or near horizontal position a ladder may not be required.
Nest boxes/logs should be placed middle height to high up in the aviary under cover.  Many prefer the nest box / log opening to be in a darker / shaded part of the aviary that provides a degree of privacy.  At least one perch should be at each end of the aviary and one perch should be close to the nest and be about the same height as the nest opening.  The perch closest to the nest opening is the perch most often used during the breeding season.  The cock bird will use the closest perch to the nest so he can protect the nest, the hen and their offspring.  The same perch configuration applies to suspended cages.
More details on parrot nestboxes/logs and a selection of parrot nestbox/log photos can be found on the
"nests", "parrot nests" and "parrot nestbox photos" web pages.  Click on "Up" then "Nests" then "parrot nests" and "parrot nestbox photos" in the navigation bars.

Breeding: Egg Colour White.  Clutch/s per year 1 or 2.  Eggs per nest 2 - 3.  Incubation approx. 26 - 28 days.  Fledge approx. 12 - 14 weeks.  Independent Usually by 20 weeks of age.  Removing the eggs for incubation and handrearing can greatly increase the production of young Blue and Gold Macaws.  It is possible to get a pair to lay 3 clutches of eggs per year if the eggs are removed for incubation and hand rearing of the hatchlings.

Blue and Gold Macaws are believed to mate for life and will engage in mutual preening. In the wild Blue and Gold Macaws do not breed every year.

These birds can become aggressive at breeding season and may attack the keeper.  Nest boxes are best positioned so the nest inspection can be carried out from outside the aviary.  Nest inspection is best done when the adult birds are out of the nest.

One of the easiest of the macaws to breed. These birds are regularly bred in captivity to supply hand reared birds for the pet trade.

Blue and Gold macaws were legally imported into Australia in the early 1990's and resulted in greater numbers of these birds being bred.  It also improved the genetic variability of these birds.  As a result of the increased numbers of these birds being available, it is now within the budget of some people to purchase a bird as a pet or companion bird.

The draw back of selling these rare birds into the pet market is the birds are removed from the gene pool.  The number of birds in Australia is not yet big enough to loose fit healthy birds to the (non-breeding) pet market.

If possible, the young birds should be kept in the company of other young Blue and Gold macaws, or near pairs of adult birds, so they can learn the appropriate social, behavioural and feeding skills for their species.  Young birds that imprint with their own species may be better, more reliable breeders when they attain breeding age.  Birds that imprint with their own species may form stronger pair bonds with their mate at breeding time.

Properly imprinted and socialised birds usually display less behavioural problems.

Some breeders allow the birds to rear the clutch and are happy with one clutch of one bird per year.

Another practise is to remove eggs as they are laid and to incubate the eggs and hand raise the young.  Removing the eggs as they are laid will usually stimulate the hen to lay more eggs.  This is a natural occurrence in the wild if eggs are taken by predators.  If the hen and cock bird's breeding cycle is not synchronised, the removal of the first eggs and placing those eggs in an incubator minimizes the chances of the hen sitting on infertile eggs.

Artificial incubation and hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.

Health Issues:  Refer to "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new bird/s or sick bird/s are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site. Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page option.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace. Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References: Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 52 No. 6 Jun 1998 Page 130-131 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol  2 No 2 Feb 1948 Page 13-15.
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 14 Issue 10. Aug-Sept 2001 Page 555-558
  • ABK Vol 11 Issue 6. Dec-Jan 1999 Page 296-297
  • ABK Vol  8 Issue 8. Apr-May 1995 Page 393-394

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