The Hahn’s Macaw is the smallest of all the Macaw Parrots, and is one of the best talkers!
The Hahn’s Macaw, scientifically described as Diopsittaca nobilis nobilis (previously Ara nobilis nobilis) is the smallest of all the macaw species. There are three sub-species of Diopsittaca nobilis.These mini macaw parrots are collectively known as the Red-shouldered Macaws.
The Hahn’s Macaw is not only the smallest of the macaw species, but is the smallest member of the Red-shouldered Macaw group. It is a very tiny macaw reaching only about 12″ (30 cm) in total length. The other two subspecies, the Noble Macaw
D. n. cumanensis
A. n. cumanensis
) and the Long-winged Macaw
D. n. longipennis
A. n. longipennis
) are slightly larger, reaching about 13″-14″ (31-33 cm).
The Red-shouldered Macaw subspecies are very similar in appearance. All three of these parrots have a green body that becomes more yellow underneath. They also have blue on the forehead and crown, and along the outer primary feathers of the upper wings. The name “red-shouldered” is derived from a red accent along the bend of the wing. The main color distinction between these three is that the Hahn’s Macaw has a black bill, as opposed to the pale cream colored upper beak on the other two.
Because of their small size and coloration, the Red-shouldered Macaws are occasionally confused with conures of the genus Aratinga, particularly the Blue-crowned Conure Aratinga acuticaudata. This is not surprising as they have a close morphological relationship. In fact, the Blue Crown Conure is actually an inch or two larger than these macaws, reaching up to 14 1/2″ (37 cm) in length.
Hand reared Red-shouldered Macaws are considered the easiest of all the macaws to care for, and make an excellent pet. They become extremely tame and are very easy to manage. They are also very clever mimics, capable of a very large vocabulary for a macaw. In his book All About the Parrots, author Arthur Freud tells of a Noble Macaw with a vocabulary of over 50 words. The vocabulary of most macaws consists of only about 15 to 20 words.
A hand raised Hahn’s Macaw is an ideal bird for a beginner. They are small and easy to handle, and are very social birds with a friendly and comical nature. They will breed readily both as a single pair or when kept in a group. “Lu” shown above was hand raised and is a male, he has been DNA sexed. The Hahn’s Macaw is an all around good choice for the inexperienced person who wants a larger parrot.
For more information about mini macaws, see:
Mini Macaw Parrots: Types of Mini Macaws – Mini Macaws as Pets
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Psittaciformes
- Family: Psittacidae
- Genus: Ara
- Species: nobilis nobilis
The Hahn’s Macaw Diopsittaca nobilis nobilis, previously Ara nobilis nobilis, is one of three subspecies collectively known as the Red-shouldered Macaws. The Red-shouldered Macaws are found across a wide range from eastern Venezuela then east through Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana; and south to southern Brazil, southeastern Peru, and northern Bolivia.
The three subspecies of Red-shouldered Macaws are:
- Hahn’s Macaw: Diopsittaca nobilis nobilis, previously Ara nobilis nobilis
- Noble Macaw: D. n. cumanensis, previously A. n. cumanensis
- Long-winged Macaw: D. n. longipennis, previously A. n. longipennis
The Red-shouldered Macaws were first described by Linnaeus in 1758, with the Noble Macaw being first described in 1764.
The natural habitat of the Hahn’s Macaw D. n. nobilis, is north of the Amazon from Venezuela to northeast Brazil. The Noble Macaw D. n. cumanensis, is found in northeastern Brazil, but south of the Amazon. The Long-winged Macaw D. n. longipennis is found from the interior of Brazil to southeastern Peru and northern Bolivia.
The Red-shouldered Macaws inhabit open wooded habitats including palm groves, forest-fringed savannahs, open bushy savannahs, plantations, and a variety of wooded habitats. In the wild they are seen in small groups in trees where they are very quiet, or flocks in flight where they are extremely noisy. Sometimes they are seen in association with the Red-bellied Macaw Orthopsittaca manilata.
As with all macaw species, there has been some loss of the natural habitat of the Red-shouldered Macaws. Yet their natural distribution spans a very vast region, and although it is believed there has been a decline in population, to date it is not enough to consider this species as vulnerable. They have proven to be prolific breeders in captivity and have been bred for many years. They are widely established and available as a pet.
The Hahn’s Macaw is the smallest of all the macaws, and is the tiniest of the three Red-shouldered Macaw subspecies. The name Red-shouldered Macaw is a common name associated with all three of the Diopsittaca nobilis subspecies. Like the other mini macaw parrots, these macaws have predominantly green bodies. They have a blue crown and a tinge of blue on the lower edge of the wing. The bends of the wing are clearly marked with red, and thus the alternate name of Red-shoulder Macaw. They have a naked white patch around the eye, but unlike like the patch on the larger macaws, it does not extend down into the cheek. Their eyes are a dark orange.
“Lu” – 8 month old DNA sexed malePhoto Courtesy Becca
The Hahn’s Macaw and the other two Red-shouldered Macaws belong to the group of small macaws often called dwarf macaws or mini macaw parrots. The Hahn’s Macaw, being the smallest of this genus, reaches 11 3/4″ (30 cm) in length, while the Noble Macaw D. n. cumanensis (previously A. n. cumanensis) is a bit bigger and the Long-winged Macaw D. n. longipennis (previously A. n. longipennis) is the largest. These last two reach about 13″-14″ (31-33 cm). The Long-wing Macaw has longer wings than the Noble, but they are very similar in all other aspects.
The distinguishing feature of the Hahn’s Macaw is that its beak is black, while the other two subspecies have a horn colored beak. Juveniles of all three subspecies have no blue on their head and no red on the bend of their wing, and their eyes are brown. A mini macaw parrots lifespan is between about 20-30 years in a good environment.
Care and feeding
In the wild the Hahn’s Macaw, as well as the other two subspecies of Red-shouldered Macaw, feed on a variety of seeds, berries, fruits, nuts, and blossoms. In his book, Parrots of the World, author Joseph M. Forshaw says they have been noted to enjoy the berries of the black-sage bush Cordia aubletis and paste trees cordia spp., and the flowers of the sandkoker tree Erythrina glauca. All three are a secondary scrubby growth, with the first two growing in abandoned canefields.
For the Hahn’s Macaw care and feeding in captivity, there are name brand commercially prepared Macaw seed or pellet mixes. They can also eat anything nutritious that you eat and these foods should be offered. Most parrots enjoy eating with their family. They may also eat some protein in the wild, and they do like chicken. Avocado and chocolate are toxic to parrots.
See Macaw Care and Feeding for more information.
A roomy cage is required, at least 2 1/2 by 3 feet, and the bird will appreciate being let out for extended periods. 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. 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”.
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. Macaws are avid chewers 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.
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.
In the wild the Hahn’s Macaw, as well as the other two subspecies of Red-shouldered Macaws, are very social birds. and are generally seen in small groups in trees, or in flocks when in flight. In captivity, these birds are lovable, friendly, and intelligent. They are also fun little clowns. They love to play around and can be quite mischievous.
The Hahn’s Macaw can become a very good pet for someone who wants to experience the macaw, but wants a smaller bird. These mini macaws are very social and friendly, and can be a good family type bird. They are intelligent and eager for attention and play. With a good disposition and responding well to handling and training, they are ideal for the beginner. But they are a typical macaw and can be cranky at times and may prefer only one person or only one gender.
Macaws do tend to mirror your moods. If you are agitated they can become agitated, but when you are happy and loving, well so is your pet. 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 Hahn’s 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. Though macaws in general are not as inclined to talk and mimic as much as some of the other types of parrots, notably the Amazon Parrots, the Hahn’s Macaw can learn quite a few words or phrases. While most macaws learn only about 15-20 words, the Red-shouldered Macaws are noted for learning up to 50 words or so.
For information about handling and training your Hahn’s 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, though it has been stated that the males may be slightly larger. Yet there is no certain way to distinguish a male Hahn’s 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, all three of the subspecies of the Red-shouldered Macaw will build its nest in the holes of trees. They seem to prefer cavities in live palms, but have been found in dead palms and the cavities of other trees as well. Sometimes a palm tree will have two holes with nests in them.
The Red-shouldered Macaws are ready breeders in captivity. They have proven to be prolific breeders and have been successfully bred for many years. In his book All About the Parrots, author Arthur Freud notes that the Noble Macaw was first bred in captivity in the United States in 1939 and again in 1940, by Mr. and Mrs. Vance Wright. But it was the successful British breeding in 1949 by E. M. T. Vane, that is the best known. In fact Vane received the British Avicultural Society’s first breeding metal for his accomplishments with the Noble Macaw.
The Hahn’s Macaw is social even when breeding, and pairs can be kept in colonies and will usually readily breed. The nest box needs to be 9″ (23 cm) square and be 18″ (46 cm) deep. The usual clutch consists of two to five eggs laid two days apart like the larger macaws. The eggs incubate for about 24 days. The babies will fledge as early as 8 weeks. Feed the parents plenty of green stuffs, corn-on-the-cob, carrots, and fruit laced with food supplements while they are rearing the youngsters.
See Macaw Breeding for more information.
Hybridizations of mini macaws are quite rare, though there have been reports of crosses between the Hahn’s Macaw Diopsittaca n. nobilis and the Noble Macaw Diopsittaca n. cumanensis to develop a hybrid macaw. The Hahn’s Macaw has not been hybridized with large macaws.
There are also varying reports and claims, though rare, of crosses between species of Red-shouldered Macaws with a few conure species. These include such crosses as the Hahn’s Macaw with the Blue-crowned Conure and Sun Conure, possibly the Noble Macaw and a Mitred Conure, and a few other conures have also been mentioned. Some of these crosses are documented, while others are not yet substantiated.
It is definitely true that a Hahn’s Macaw can make noise, but it is not often, and not without some provocation. 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 Hahn’s 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
- Roger G. Sweeney, Macaws a Complete Owners Manual, Barron’s, 1992
- David Alderton, Parrots, Salamander Books, 1999
- Arthur Freud, All About The Parrots, Howell Book House, 1986.
- 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
Featured Image Credit: Jida Xu, Shutterstock