Do Macaws Need a Companion?

Macaws are extremely social birds. In nature, they live in flocks of 10 to 30 birds.

It’s only natural to wonder whether your macaw will need to have a friend to share its cage to enjoy its long life as your pet.

Getting a companion bird for your macaw, however, isn’t always a good idea.

In this article, we will discuss 10 situations in which getting a companion for your macaw is a good idea, and four in which it isn’t.

But first, let’s answer the question that comes up the most frequently about finding a companion for your macaw.

Can I Provide All the Companionship My Macaw Will Need?

As pet birds, macaws can become attached to their human companions, they still require social interaction from their own species to thrive.

On the other hand, even when macaws live with a companion bird, macaws need attention from their owner and shouldn’t be expected to entertain themselves all day long while their owners are away.

Just keep in mind that you will be entertaining two birds.

Whether you decide to adopt one macaw, two macaws, or even more, keep in mind that bringing a macaw into your home can turn into a lifetime commitment.

Macaw owners should keep in mind that macaws live for many years (up to 50!) so owning a macaw is both a long-term financial and emotional commitment.

By taking the time to understand your macaw’s needs before you bring it home, you will be setting yourself up for success as an owner and helping ensure your macaw has a long and happy life!

Now, let’s consider 10 situations in which providing your macaw with a friend—of the same species—is a good idea.

Also read: Do Macaws Make Good Pets?

10 Situations in Which Companionship is Best for Your Macaw

There are some significant ways in which macaws are a lot like people. Sometimes, a macaw can get depressed and need cheering up.

Also like people, macaws have more fun with their toys when another macaw is in their cage (although this does not mean that they will share).

Your macaw may seem to be more confident when another bird is around.

Let’s start with the most obvious situation in which you should keep two macaws in the same cage.

You want to raise baby macaws

If you want your female macaw to lay eggs that hatch (like chickens, macaws can lay unfertilized eggs), you will need to house her with a male.

Any opposite-sex couple in the same cage will sooner or later attempt to mate.

You will get healthier chicks, of course, if your male and female are not brother and sister.

It is best that they come from different breeders or different pet stores, to avoid chicks that have undesirable recessive traits.

This means that at some point you will have to introduce your birds to each other, and they will go through a period of tension until they figure out which is the dominant bird. (There is more information about introducing two macaws to the same cage below.)

Your macaws have already mated

Macaws mate for life. Once your macaws have started a family together, you should never separate them.

Macaws that have mated know each other, and have worked out any territoriality issues before they mate.

You are adopting older macaws that have spent their entire lives together

Macaws that have been raised together since they were chicks will be compatible in the same cage.

In most cases, raising chicks in the same cage means they hatched from the same brood, but sometimes a breeder will play a chick from one brood in with another in order to sell the chick’s parents.

Brother-sister pairs aren’t ideal for breeding purposes. However, brother-sister combinations are usually quite compatible in their cage.

Also read: Are Macaws Loud? Do Macaws Make Noise at Night?

You have brothers from the same brood

Among macaws, brothers usually make good cage mates.

Two male birds from the same brood will have known each other almost all their lives (Eggs may hatch over a period of two or three days.)

But if your macaws lay a clutch of two or three eggs, and they all hatch and survive to the fledgling stage, you may still want to plant on housing each macaw of the next generation in its own cage.

That’s because there is no easy way for owners to tell the sex of their macaws at the fledgling stage.

DNA testing or a surgical probe of the gonads at the vet’s office could tell you the sex of your baby macaws.

There are testing companies that offer 100-percent accurate DNA testing from blood samples, but you will pay about (US) $100 for the test and about (US) $100 for the blood test.

You want to train your macaw to interact with you

Giving a macaw an avian companion often helps them become a better companion to people.

That’s because macaws that share a cage with another of their own species are bolder.

The shy bird of the pair will be more likely to try new toys, and to learn new tricks to earn food.

Macaws can’t imitate human speech, but an at-ease macaw will make greater use of the six sounds it can make to please its humans.

Macaws that live with a companion are calmer

Macaws can be noisy birds.

When they live with a companion bird, they are less likely to make a ruckus, especially early in the morning.

They do not need to call their flock because their flock is right there.

Having a companion bird also makes it easier to move the birdcage and take the bird to the vet.

You want a more sociable bird

Macaws that learn to be more sociable with another bird also become more sociable with their owners.

If you want birds that talk with you, play with you, and learn how to interact with you, it helps to provide them with 24-hour companionship.

Your vet has told you that your macaw needs a companion

Vets sometimes treat behavior problems in birds by recommending more company.

If the bird’s companion can’t be you, the next best thing is another bird.

You have observed your macaws together and they seem happy

Here’s the best reason to put two macaws together in the same cage. They seem happy!

If you give your macaws a test-run for living together and they seem compatible, then by all means keep them in the same cage.

When you are keeping multiple macaws, you need to keep in mind that macaws are relatively large birds.

They need a large escape-proof cage that has a footprint of at least 24 square feet.

Ideally, the cage should be 3 feet tall, so you can fit in ample perches, swings, ladders, and toys to keep your bird active and entertained.

Macaws should also have access to an outdoor aviary or flight cage when weather permits, so they can get some fresh air and stretch their wings.

Four Situations in Which Your Macaw Will Be Happier Alone

Now, let’s consider four situations in which you shouldn’t keep two macaws together.

You have raised the two macaws separately

Macaws that are 10, 20, 30, or even 40 or 50 years old don’t adjust very well to sharing their cage with a new bird.

If you are going to put two macaws in the same cage, it is best to introduce them when they are at most two or three months old.

The two macaws are females from the same brood

In nature, female macaws compete for mates. They compete for nesting materials. They compete for food for their babies.

Two females from the same brood will have an especially intense rivalry if they are caged together, since they instinctively compete for mates.

The situation will get even worse when one spring, as the days get longer, they lay clutches of unfertilized eggs.

The two macaws are a male and female from the same brood

Recessive traits, such as an excess of green feathers, and depression, will show up in macaws bred from siblings.

You don’t know the sex of your macaws

Your vet can determine the sex of your birds.

But if you don’t know which are male and which are female, you are better off simply keeping them apart.

You have housed either bird with a more aggressive species

Conures, lovebirds, green cheeks, and parrotlets can be very territorial.

Any macaw that has spent time in a cage or in an aviary with these more aggressive birds needs its own living space.

How to Introduce Macaws

If you decide your macaws will be happier if they are caged together, you will still need to give them a gentle introduction.

Here’s how:

  • Quarantine the new bird for four weeks to make sure it is not carrying any diseases that it could pass on to the new bird. If you are getting both birds at the same time, you need to keep them in separate cages for a month. If they are both well, then it is OK to introduce them to the same cage. The exception to this rule is macaws that have been raised together as chicks.
  • Place the individual macaw cages next to each other, so your birds can get used to seeing and hearing each other.
  • When it’s playtime for your macaws, interact with your older macaw first. That way, it will not think it is being replaced.
  • Let your macaws play together outside their cages. When you can see that they get along, then it is OK to put them in the same cage.

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