Ask Lafeber

Question:

May 19, 2022

Macaw


I have a male macaw and I am buying a female macaw when can I put then together what is the process


Answer:

Hi Becky,

I’ll start off by telling you that breeding birds is not easy by any means, it takes a lot of patience, and it is very expensive. If you breed responsibly, you will be lucky to make back some of your costs or break even – it’s not profitable unless you have a large breeding operation.

As for getting a female and when to introduce them, it depends on the species of macaw. The smaller species are ready to be paired at 5-7 years old. The larger species are not ready until 7-10 years old. While they may start exhibiting hormonal behavior at a younger age, they are still developing physically and emotionally and should not be paired until they are old enough. It can cause a young hen to try to lay eggs before she is ready, and puts her at a high risk of becoming egg bound and dying. And young birds are more interested in mating than caring for eggs and chicks, so they tend to develop bad breeding habits like breaking or eating eggs, not sitting on eggs or not caring for chicks. These habits can be impossible to break and can ruin them for ever being good breeders. You will have a better chance of success by being patient and letting the birds reach a good breeding age before pairing them up. This is the first stage where patience comes into play.

Both birds should be around the same age. Never put a much younger bird with an older bird. The older bird can get frustrated with a younger bird, and they are more likely to fight rather than bond. You also have no guarantee the birds will get along or bond as mates, even if they are the same age. They choose their own mate in the wild and do not always like the mate we choose for them. Some birds simply are not good breeders. If your bird is tame, you have to be willing to give him up as a pet. You can’t handle breeding birds. They need to focus on their bond with each other, and generally become wild towards humans anyway. But trying to continue to handle a breeding bird causes confusion and can cause the pair to fight or cause the tame bird to attack the mate and even kill it. Breeding  birds need a large cage they can fly in, and they need a lot of privacy. Macaws need a really large sturdy cage, because they require a very large nest box, which will be very heavy.

As for introducing a mate, they should be in cages side by side for some time until they show interest in each other. Once introduced in the same cage, they must be monitored closely for signs of fighting. You should not put them in a breeding cage or give them a nest box until they show strong signs of being bonded – grooming each other, feeding each other and eventually mating. If they do mate and lay eggs, you have to rest them between each clutch, whether the eggs hatch or not. The nest box must be removed or blocked off, and the pair rested for at least 6 months. Generally the larger macaws should be limited to a single clutch per year.

They will need a nutritionally balanced diet, fresh foods and some special foods once they are set up for breeding. I encourage you to do a lot of research on this before making the decision to get your bird a mate. You can do absolutely everything right, and never see a single egg or never end up with a surviving chick. There is much more that can go wrong with breeding than right. And the larger birds and much harder to breed than smaller birds like cockatiels or conures. I’m not trying to discourage you, but it’s important to understand that this isn’t like breeding a dog or other pet. The odds of success with a single pair of birds are against you. But if you ae dedicated and really want to try this, you just might be lucky and have a successful pair. I’d like to say it’s a matter of skill or doing everything right, but with birds, it seems to be more about luck than anything else.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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