The Illiger's Macaw is one of the Mini Macaws
Illiger’s Macaw

Mini Macaws are like large Macaws… but smaller, easier to care for, and tend to be better talkers!

The small Macaws are called Mini Macaws. Just like their larger cousins, they are curious, playful and full of spunk. They are also very intelligent and trainable, which makes them very enjoyable pets. If you want a Macaw, but are a bit backed off by the large size and beak of a full sized Macaw, the Mini Macaw is perfect. They take up less space and are easier to care for. They are quite comical and can also be better at mimicking human speech. The life span of the Mini Macaw is shorter however, on average they will live about 20 – 30 years.

A smaller version of the large Macaw, Mini Macaws are very charismatic and energetic. They are not so big or vividly colored, but like their larger relatives they are avid chewers and can be loud. They also need lots of room with plenty of activities and playthings.

The Mini Macaws can make wonderful pet birds if well socialized when young. Depending on the species however, some will easily retain their amiable personalities than others. Some species, like the Illiger’s Macaw or Blue-winged Macaw Primolius maracana, will need consistent socialization and handling to retain their pet qualities.

The Mini Macaws are the smallest Macaw species. There are eight types of Mini Macaws in a range of sizes from about 12″ (30 cm) to about 20 inches (50 cm) in total length. The largest of the Mini’s is the Red-bellied Macaw Orthopsittaca manilata which is very rarely seen, followed by the Severe Macaw Ara severa, that is often available. The smallest are the three Red-shouldered Macaw species in the genus Diopsittaca. These birds are often listed in the Ara genus as well. Of these three, the Hahn’s Macaw D. n. nobilis is the smallest, reaching only about 11.7″ (30 cm), and then followed in size by its two close cousins. The Noble Macaw D. n. cumanensis is a bit bigger and the Long-winged Macaw D. n. longipennis is the largest. These two reach about 13″-14″ (31-33 cm).

Deforestation of natural habitats, as well as early and ongoing collection of different bird species, has critically reduced many wild bird populations. Macaws are no exception. All Macaw species are now listed on the IUNC Red List of Threatened Species, with some severely endangered and threatened with extinction. The popular Mini Macaws, the Yellow-collared Macaw and the Hahn’s Macaw, are commonly bred in captivity and readily available as pets, while others have been a bit more rare. Yet many more Macaws are successfully bred in captivity today and with increased breeding some other Mini Macaws are becoming more common.

For more Macaw Information, see:
Large MacawsandHybrid Macaws

Mini Macaws Parrot Facts

  • Types of Macaws
    Today there are many Macaw breeders producing all types of Macaws. Aviculturists dedicated to breeding Macaw parrots provide a number of baby Macaws that are readily available as pet birds. Finding a pet Mini Macaw is easy due to a number being bred. This is true as well as for many of the large Macaw species. Hybrid Macaws have also been gaining favor and today there are over 35 hybrid crosses.

  • Mini Macaw Hybrids
    Mini Macaw hybrids are quite rare, though there have been reports of crosses between two species of the Diopsittaca genus, the Hahn’s Macaw Diopsittaca n. nobilis and the Noble Macaw Diopsittaca n. cumanensis.

    Another natural hybridization that produced a lot of interest was a cross between the last known surviving male Spix’s Macaw Cyanopsitta spixii, a Large Macaw, and a female Illiger’s Macaw Ara maracana a Mini Macaw. This hybrid was reported in the academic publication, Conservation Genetics, printed in the Netherlands in 2001.

    There are also varying reports and claims, though rare, of crosses between Mini Macaw species of the Diopsittaca genus 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.

Macaws as Endangered Birds

Several of the Mini Macaw species are very popular pet birds. However, with the increasing pressure on their native habitats and reduced populations, Macaws are at risk in the wild. Fortunately there are many devoted breeders of the favored Mini Macaw species, so they will likely continue to be regularly bred and available.

  • Care, Breeding, and Conservation of Mini Macaws
    Conservation of Mini Macaws has become vastly important in the fight to preserve endangered birds. Captive breeding, care, and good management of captive birds are part of this. Through the dedicated efforts of aviculturists a strong, self-sustaining population of the endangered birds are available in captivity. It is because of the efforts of these people that some of the Macaws, Large Macaws included, will survive extinction, and/or be available for re-introduction into their natural habitats. These efforts have already allowed for some species to be re-introduced to their native homes, though this is still in the experimental stages.

  • Macaws in the Wild
    Today there are eight living species (including subspecies) of Mini Macaw, but not all are available in the pet trade. All Macaw species have diminished Populations declining in the wild has affected all types of Macaws, and all Macaw species are now considered endangered birds, vulnerable, or of concern. Currently there are no populations considered stable enough to not be considered at risk or endangered.

    Currently the IUNC Red List of Threatened Species shows that the majority of the Mini Macaw species are faring better than their larger cousins. Four species are listed as Least Concern (LC), 1 species as Vulnerable (VU), and 1 species as Near Threatened (NT). None of these small Macaws are listed as Endangered (EN) or Critically Endangered (CR).

  • Captive Bred Mini Macaws
    Mini Macaw species are very popular as pets. Fortunately there are devoted breeders of Mini Macaw species which helps in the continuing effort to preserve the species and making them available as pets. The Yellow-collard Macaw and the Hahn’s Macaw are the most popular in the pet trade, followed by the Severe Macaw and the Illiger’s Macaw. The Noble Macaw and Blue-headed Macaw, though available, are more rare. The only Mini Macaw that is not really found in the pet trade is the Red-Bellied Macaw. Though at one time it was a common import, it is no longer. This species has a highly specialized diet and is incredibly difficult to breed, so is now extremely rare in captivity.

Mini Macaws as Pets

Getting a Mini Macaw as a pet is a big lifestyle commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Just considering how long Macaws live, you quickly realize this will be a long lived pet and companion. They also require a proper aviary if kept outdoors, or a good sized cage when kept indoors with regular outside playtime for exercise and to prevent boredom. Because they are highly intelligent, they need personal attention and activities. That means regular interaction and lots of destructible toys. The length of their lives, along with their necessary bird care, means keeping a pet Mini Macaw requires a substantial investment of time, money, and space.

  • Mini Macaws Lifespan
    An important question, that is often misconstrued, is how long do Macaws live. The answer is rather surprising when considering they are some of the larger parrots. The actual Mini Macaw lifespan is between about 20-30 years in a good environment. The average lifespan of their larger counterparts, both large Macaws and large hybrids, is between about 35-50. These parrots are easily outlived by the cockatoos, and by medium sized parrots like the Amazons.

    Macaws are all long-lived and the Mini Macaw is no exception. Twenty plus is a good number of years. Keep this in mind when choosing to obtain a Mini Macaw species. Like all parrots, Mini Macaws make great pets, and like all parrots they can be lifelong companions.

  • Choosing a Mini Macaw
    When you’re choosing a pet bird it helps to find the right Mini Macaw for you. Each Mini Macaw species has special unique qualities. We strongly recommend that before committing to any particular one, you take the time to learn about each type of Mini Macaw. You’ll discover that the characteristics of birds, bird traits, and bird behaviors vary somewhat for each of the different types of Mini Macaws.

    Although all Mini Macaws are awesome birds, it’s nice to know beforehand which type of Mini Macaw best fits you and your lifestyle better than another.
  • Keeping a Mini Macaw
    When you become ‘owned’ by a Mini Macaw you have an affectionate, playful companion. Though smaller and easier to care for than the large Macaws, they are demanding birds when kept as pets. Like all pet Macaws, they need a large amount of space, good socialization, and quality bird care to keep them happy and healthy.

    Mini Macaws love attention and bond closely with their keepers. They enjoy physical interaction and enjoy being petted. Like all Macaws, they are also very active and avid chewers. They need lots of toys, and regular attention to keep them from becoming bored and developing any undesirable behaviors.

    Like their larger counterparts, Mini Macaws are very intelligent birds. They enjoy clowning around and will attempt to mimic your moves and sounds. This lends itself well in teaching these intelligent birds tricks as well as a few words. Just lIke with the large Macaw, their macaw calls can be loud and sometimes these birds can be cranky. Kind of like with children, you can be prepared for such occasions. Giving them the space they need when they need it, and give them the attention or playthings they need when they need it.

Bird care for Mini Macaws:Macaw Care Guide

Mini Macaws for Sale

Finding Mini Macaws for sale is not difficult for some of the more familiar species. But not all Mini Macaws species are available, and there are some that have limited availability. Here is a breakdown of which types of Mini Macaws you can readily find for sale, and those that are more difficult:

  • Mini Macaws readily available for sale
    These species have long been the most popular Mini Macaws and are the most readily available birds for sale:
    • Yellow-collared Macaw Primolius auricollis
    • Hahn’s Macaw, Diopsittaca nobilis nobilis This is one of the Red-shouldered Macaw subspecies, it is the nominate species and is the smallest macaw species.

  • Mini Macaws occasionally available for sale
    These Mini Macaws have been a bit more rare in the pet trade. These are sometimes available and with increased breeding are becoming more common. You can generally find these Macaws for sale, but it may take a bit more searching:
    • Illiger’s Macaw or Blue-winged Macaw Primolius maracana is occasionally available
    • Severe Macaw, also known as the Chestnut-fronted Macaw Ara severa, this parrot has been available on occasion, and today is becoming even more availability.
    • Noble Macaw Diopsittaca nobilis cumanensis, another of the Red-shouldered Macaw sub species that is occasionally available.
    • Blue-headed Macaw Primolius couloni, found in Brazil and Peru. This Mini Macaw had a history of beeing very rare, and it used to be that it simply was not usually available. However, there have been captive breeding programs developed in the United States since the early 2000’s, and it is now occasionally available.
    • Long-winged Macaw Diopsittaca nobilis longipennis, another of the Red-shouldered Macaw sub species that may be available on rare occasions. Its two cousins, the Hahn’s Macaw and the Noble Macaw, are more common.

  • Mini Macaws that are not usually available
    This Mini Macaw is non-existent in the pet trade:
    • Red-bellied Macaw Orthopsittaca manilata, was a common import several decades ago, but it simply did not survive nor would it breed, so trade basically stopped.
      It is a nervous bird and studies found that it has a highly specialized diet as well as being extremely difficult to breed. Today it is very scarce in captivity. Finding this Mini Macaws for sale will be difficult.


Featured Image Credit: Tracy Starr, Shutterstock