The Blue-throated Macaw is a rare treat to behold, being one of the rarest birds in the world!
The Blue Throated Macaw Ara glaucogularis is one of the most spectacular of the large Macaws. It displays an elegant form and is more graceful in its movements than its counterparts. In color it is similar to the slightly larger Blue and Gold Macaw, with a beautiful teal blue color along its upper parts and a golden color underneath. But it is distinguished by a large blue band across the throat that extends up to its ear coverts, and thus the name ‘Blue-throated’. It is also known as the Canide Macaw and the Wagler’s Macaw.
This beauty has only really become known in aviculture since the late 1970’s. While all the other large macaws were discovered up to 200 years earlier, in the 1700 and 1800 hundreds, the Blue-throated Macaw was not described until 1921. Its natural habitat is not widespread. It is found only in very reduced areas, primarily in Bolivia. They dwell mostly in lowlands inhabiting humid dense forests, or secondary forests close to water.
The Blue-throated Macaw is a very docile and affectionate pet bird, but it is also quite intelligent and inquisitive. As wild birds, they are found to be shy and reclusive, but as hand-fed birds they are very outgoing and talkative. They love chewing and performing acrobatic antics. Those activities, along with exploring their surroundings with their tongue and beak, are some of their favorite pastimes.
Although these Macaws don’t care to be handled quite as much as their close relative the Blue and Gold Macaw, they are undemanding and friendly. They are not inclined to bite nor are they not excessively loud, as many of the other macaws can be. The Blue Throated Macaw is quite content to entertain itself especially if given plenty of chewing materials. These qualities make them a wonderful pet or aviary bird. They can be kept even where there are neighbors close by.
For information about the care of Macaws see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Macaw
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Psittaciformes
- Family: Psittacidae
- Genus: Ara
- Species: glaucogularis
Current taxonomy identifies the Blue-throated Macaw as its own species. However it has been a species of question. The Blue-throated Macaw is very similar to the Blue and Gold Macaw Ara ararauna. Author Joseph M. Forshaw in his atlas, “Parrots of the World”, mentions that this Macaw could be a subspecies of the Blue and Gold, Ara araraunacaninde. It is slightly smaller however, and is found only in the southern population of the Blue and Gold’s region, and in a very restricted area. Other slight distinctions between the two are a less extensive bare facial area on the Blue-throated with the black tracings on the cheeks being more blue and are somewhat broader, and the blue band on its throat extends up to the ear coverts.
The Blue-throated Macaw Ara glaucogularis, previously Ara caninde, was first described by Dabbene in 1921. Like Red-fronted Macaws, the Blue-throated Macaws are also found in a very small geographic region. Their range is quite limited, and today it is found primarily in the Llanos de Mojos (Moxos) region of northern Bolivia. This area is is north-east of the Andes, mostly east of the Beni River, and is the southern most extension of the Amazon.They were early described as being from the Buena Vista district of Bolivia, Paraguay, and Northern Argentina in the province of Chaco.
The preferred habitat the Blue-throated Macaws are lowlands of humid dense forests, or more open secondary lowland forests, usually close to water. Like the Blue and Gold they feed on seeds, nuts, fruits, and possibly some vegetable and protein matter.
The natural habitat of this Macaw is in a very restricted region, so when it was first discovered there were probably around a couple thousand birds. In the early 1980’s, when it first appeared in aviculture, it was then trapped extensively. An estimated 1200 birds exported. Trapping has since been greatly reduced, but the population is still greatly reduced. The IUCN Red List report suggests about 250 mature individuals, but recent surveys indicate that the natural populations may be increasing slowly.
Blue-throated Macaw – “Raena”
Photo © Animal-World:
Courtesy Cheryl Galloway
The Blue-throated Macaw was first thought of as a subspecies, or a juvenile, of the Blue and Gold Macaw. They are similar in color to the Blue and Gold Macaw with upper parts being all blue and under parts being an orange-yellow.
The blue coloring of the Blue-throated Macaw is a bit more aqua toned than the Blue and Gold Macaw, having a greenish tinge, They also have a blue band across the throat, thus the name ‘Blue-throated’.
Their bare facial patch is also a bit smaller than the Blue and Gold’s. It is also lined with blue feathers rather than the black feathers seen on a Blue and Gold Macaw’s facial patch. The tail is long and tapered and the legs are gray. The beak is a gray-black and the eye is yellow.
The Blue-throated Macaw is a full sized macaw, though they are a bit smaller than Blue and Gold Macaw. These birds are about 33 inches (85 cm) in length. A younger bird will be similar to the adults but have a shorter tail and dark brown eyes.
Care and Feeding
In the wild, like their larger cousin the Blue and Gold, Blue-throated’s most likely eat a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits and probably some protein. There are name brand commercially prepared seed or pellet mixes for the Macaw. They can also eat anything nutritious that you eat and these foods should be offered. Most parrots enjoy eating with their family. They eat protein in the wild and they do like chicken. Avocado and chocolate are toxic to parrots.
They require bathing to keep their feathers from drying out. They are used to a humid climate and without bathing their feathers will dry out and become itchy causing them to chew on them. You can spray them down with room temperature tap water or a commercial bird bath. Many owners just take their Macaw into the shower with them. They make shower perches for Macaws.
See Macaw Care and Feeding for more information.
A roomy cage is required, at least 2 1/2 by 3 feet. A large sturdy perch needs to be mounted in the cage. Many birds can spend most of their time on a play pen or parrot perch. The Blue-throated Macaw is an avid chewer and should be provided with plenty of natural branches and wooden toys. Fresh fruit tree branches work great for them to chew on, but then they will have to be replaced occasionally. Food and water dishes, along with a treat dish work best mounted above the perch at the side of the cage. As alternatives to a cage, they can be kept in an outdoor aviary where the weather permits, and some people like to provide their bird with its own “bird room”.
These pet Macaws need at least 2 – 3 hours a day outside their cage. Many birds can spend most of their time on a playpen or parrot perch. A Macaw’s cage is their territory and a play pen top is great, but it is still their territory. It is better to interact with your Macaw on top of a sturdy perch away from the Macaw cage. A separate, free-standing playpen works great for this.
See Macaw Housing or more information.
The basic cage care includes daily cleaning of the water and food dishes. Weekly you should wash all the perches and dirty toys, and the floor should be washed about every other week. A total hosing down and disinfecting of an aviary should be done yearly, replacing anything that needs to be freshened, such as old dishes, toys and perches.
In the wild the Blue-throated Macaws are very social birds, often seen in the company of Blue and Gold Macaws. In captivity, these birds are mellow, friendly, and inquisitive. They enjoy interaction with people as well as other birds. They rarely ever bite, though they do explore their surroundings with their tongue and beak. They are happy to entertain themselves as well; playing in their cage, talking to themselves, and chewing on toys.
They can be a good family type bird. They are a gentle bird that will get along with more than one person, although they will probably have a preference in the family. But they are a typical Macaw and can be cranky at times and may prefer only one person or only one gender. To have a well-rounded bird that enjoys more than one person, make sure it is well socialized with lots of folks.
See Macaws Social Behaviors for information on developing a well rounded friendly Macaw.
The Blue-throated Macaw adapts quickly. Once it becomes accustomed to a new environment and its keeper it is then ready to start bird training. Generally though, you should give a new arrival a few days to get use to you, your voice and its cage before trying to handle it. A hand fed baby will not need much taming and can often be handled right away, as it is use to human attention.
With all parrots, taming and training takes trust and patience. Macaws are very intelligent making them easy to tame. They are also very adept at learning and quick to train. They excel best at learning tricks and small tasks. They are not as inclined to talk and mimic as some of the other parrots, notably the Amazon Parrots, but they can learn a few words or phrases.
For information about handling and training your Blue-throated Macaw see Macaw Training
For the physical well being and psychological health of a Macaw Parrot, they must have plenty of opportunity to exercise and play. These are lovable pets and activities include interactive time with its keeper. Everything from petting, cuddling, and preening is appreciated, as well as performing and learning new tricks. But these are also very large, rambunctious pets that need a good sized space to play and climb around. Both climbing around inside a large cage, and providing a outside playpen offers them interest and variety.
Macaws are avid chewers, munching intently on anything they can get a hold of. When they are on a playpen, make sure they can’t reach trim or any household items you don’t want destroyed. Provide lots of toys and activities in the form of large link chains, bird ladders, parrot swings, ropes, and wood toys for gnawing and chewing. Rotate in new bird toys on a regular basis.
Providing regular interaction and lots of playtime. Having plenty of space and a large selection of toys and activities will help deter distress in your pet Macaw. It will also reduce the chance of your parrot developing undesirable behaviors like screeching, biting, and feather picking.
Sexing – Sexual Differences
No visible differences. There is no for certain way to distinguish a male Blue-throated Macaw from a female. In order to know whether you have a male or female, the bird must be sexed. DNA / Feather or surgical sexing is recommended.
In the wild the Blue-throated Macaw will build its nest in palm trees. They were first bred in captivity in 1984 and are found to be ready breeders, though the babies are a bit difficult to hand feed, especially when very young. The usual clutch consists of two to four eggs which incubate for about 26 days. The babies will fledge after about 3 months in the nest. Feed the parents additional high-fat seeds, like sunflower seed, during the breeding season. The young will also require a high-fat diet as well as additional protein.
See Macaw Breeding for more information.
It is definitely true that a Macaw parrot can make noise, but it is not often, and not without some provocation. Fortunately the Blue-throated Macaw is not as noisy as most of the other large Macaws. Usually if a Macaw makes a loud squawking noise, it’s because they perceive something to be wrong or different. Maybe a car they don’t recognize is coming to the home or the dog is loose. They are also known to make a noise for about 10 minutes as the sun is setting. This is an alert to their flock to settle in for the evening.
A pet Macaw when well cared for will seldom become ill. Yet they can contract some diseases, and there some also things in the environmental that can cause illness. Behavior problems can also occur, resulting in feather plucking, biting, and loud screeching. Though it is often difficult to determine illness, some visible signs of illness to be aware of are:
- Ruffled plumage
- Drooping wings
- Sagging body
- Extreme mood changes
- Having no appetite
- Bulges in feathering
- Partially closed or watery eyes
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive saliva
- Dirty vent
- Any change in the feces not apparently diet related
Some of the more common illnesses are:
- Proventricular Dilation disease (Macaw wasting disease)
- Psittacosis (chlamydiosis or parrot fever)
- Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
- Feather picking – results of boredom, poor diet, sexual frustration, and lack of bathing
- Chewing flight and tail feathers by juveniles
- Beak malformations in chicks
- Kidney disease (gout)
- Toxicity – heavy metal poisoning
- Lipomas in older birds
If you notice any of these bird illnesses in your Blue-throated Macaw immediately provide a warm, draft free, secure environment kept at about 86°F (30°C). Place food and water close to the perch where it is easily accessible. An ailing parrot should be taken to an avian veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
Behavior problems in a pet Macaw usually stem from something that is missing in the bird’s environment. Some of the most common are lack of trust, becoming bored, or lack of interaction with people or other birds. When these things are missing that can lead to problems resulting in undesirable behavior. Try to develop a bond of trust and spend time with your bird to help avoid these problems. We have also had good success with Chet Womach’s Parrot Training Course. He offers free 3-day introductory course so you can try it out before you buy anything.
- Animal-World References: Pet Birds – Exotic Birds
- Joseph M. Forshaw, Parrots of the World, Hancock House Pub Ltd. 2000
- J. Abramson, B.L. Speer, J.B. Thompson, The Large Macaws: Their Care, Breeding, and Conservation, Raintree Publications, 1996
- Roger G. Sweeney, Macaws a Complete Owners Manual, Barron’s, 1992
- David Alderton, Parrots, Salamander Books, 1999
- Dr. David Alderton, The Atlas of Parrots of the World, T.F.H. Publications, Inc. 1991
- David Alderton,, A Bird Keeper’s Guide to Parrots and Macaws, Salamander Books, 1989
- Don Harper, Practical Encyclopedia of pet Birds, Harmony, 1986
Featured Image Credit: ambquinn, Pixabay