Blue-Headed Macaw 

Ara couloni South America

Blue-headed macaws are small green “mini” macaws. Their heads are a blue-grey color. The beak is pale. The facial skin in grey and the eyes are bright yellow with red rings around the iris. The tail is long and tapered and is blue and green. Mini macaws are lively boisterous birds and require generous living space.

Until the middle 1990’s Blue headed macaws were unknown in aviculture. Blue-headed macaws are found in tropical foothill habitats between 150 and 1550 m altitude in western Peru, eastern Brazil and north-western Bolivia.
They inhabit partially open forest types including disturbed forests. They are locally common and usually found in pairs or small flocks. They feed on locally available fruits; especially palm nut fruits, seeds, nuts and buds.

Length 16-17 inches. Weight approximately 250-350 grams.
Life Span – Unknown but probably up to 30-40 years. Age at maturity – 2- 3 years. Immature birds have dark eyes, which change to yellow and red within 2-3 years.

Personality – Although blueheaded macaws do make goo pets, because of the limited numbers in the United States they should be used for breeding purpose first.

Activities - Macaws are playful and love to chew. They should always be provided with toys, especially wooden blocks that can be chewed, and branches from non-toxic trees.

Dietary needs - All macaws need plenty of energy for good health. Many of their natural foods, especially palm nuts are rich in oils, and calories.
Macaws should be fed a formulated (pelleted or extruded diet) as a basis for good nutrition. The diet should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Feed approximately ¼ cup of Kaytee Exact daily. Also offer ¼ cup of fresh fruits and vegetables. Give 1-2 small nuts such as almonds as treats. Small amounts of seed may also be given as treats and can be a stimulus to breeding. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds that are eating a formulated diet.

Identification - All companion and breeding birds should be individually identified to assist in recovery if lost and assist in maintenance of medical and genealogical records. Many breeders apply closed legs bands when chicks are young. While they present a slight risk of entrapment closed bands are preferable to no identification, especially for breeding birds.
Microchips, which can be implanted into the muscle or under the skin, are a reliable means of identification but require electronic readers to verify identification. Tattoos may be used but often fade or become illegible with time. Footprints may have some application in identification.

Grooming - Routine bathing or showering is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin condition. Birds can be misted and allowed to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or dried with a blow drier. An ideal way to bathe macaws is to put them in a cage outside, sprinkle them with the hose, and allow them to dry in the sun. Macaws are strong fliers. Most of the primary flight feathers (10 feathers closest to the tip of the wing) should be clipped to prevent flight. Clip only enough so the bird will glide to the floor.

Sexing - Macaw species show no obvious sexual dimorphism (visual difference between the species) therefore endoscopic examination (Surgical sexing) or laboratory sexing techniques are needed for accurate sex determination. Males are usually larger and have larger heads.

Housing - Blue headed macaws are adaptable and should do well in housing that is appropriate for other macaws of similar size. Ideally pet macaws can also have a large cage outdoors for bathing and exercise.

Breeding – First generation Blue-headed macaws have breed fairly well in captivity in Europe and South America. Second generation breeding has proven to be more difficult. Breeding season is usually in spring and early summer, although some pairs will breed almost year round. Clutch size is usually 2-4 eggs. Incubation period is approximately 23-26 days.

Nest Box – Blue-headed macaws like vertical wooden box (approx. 12” x 12” x 24”). Macaws should be provided with plentiful chewing material. Pine shavings make excellent nest box bedding.

Cage size - Macaws should have adequate space to move freely between 2 perches. Example of appropriate suspended cage size for blue-headed macaws is 3’ x 3’ x 6’ or 4’ x 4’ x 8’. Cages should be suspended 3-4 feet above the ground.

Cages for Blue-headed macaws must be constructed of strong wire, although they are not as able to chew cages as the large macaws. 14 gauge welded wire, 1” x 1” works well for most pairs. When breeding macaws, noise and proximity to neighbors must be considered.

Mate aggression is uncommon in macaws. Pair bonds are strong but not necessarily life long.

Common diseases and disorders


Many common health problems of macaws can be prevented by good diet, nutrition and routine health care. Routine veterinary examination (annually) can help you to keep your pet in excellent health and enhance your relationship with your bird.

Conservation status – Stable, locally common– Blue-headed macaws are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Fauna and Flora. International trade requires both imort and export permits. Blue-headed macaws are uncommon in captivity and availability is very limited in the United States. Although they are available in Europe, much of the original breeding stock is of questionable legal origin.