Recently I was talking to a close friend of mine owns Macaws.
They are interested in looking into Macaw breeding, and we were talking about the best time to start that process.
Many of us bird lovers are interested in moving into the bird mating space, yet we often know very little about our birds’ reproductive cycle.
If you are interested in mating Macaws or you have a bonded pair, then it’s worth doing your research to know exactly what to expect.
I began to look into the Macaw’s mating cycle, and I have compiled all my findings here for you.
Let’s answer our burning question, how often do Macaws lay eggs?
Macaws can lay up to three clutches of eggs per breeding season in captivity, though one or two clutches are more common. Domestic Macaws can be bred yearly, though wild Macaws generally do not breed yearly. Each clutch will have 2-3 eggs on average, with an incubation period of 26-28 days.
There are many factors that will impact how often your Macaw can lay eggs.
In captivity we can control many of these, like lighting and environment.
This means that it is possible to get a pair to lay more clutches annually, though this does come with health implications.
Another factor to consider is the chicks themselves.
It takes a minimum of 10 days before they begin to develop feathers and can be separated from their parents by breeders.
However naturally fledglings do not become independent for three months. If allowed to rear the fledglings,
Macaws will only lay one clutch per year.
When do Macaws reach breeding age?
Macaws reach sexual maturity at 3-4 years old.
Note that this is slightly later than their average age of puberty, which is about 2-3 years old.
Puberty is not at all the same thing as sexual maturity.
Rather, puberty is a time for your bird to find their place in their social group and with you as their owner.
Breeding too early could be very harmful to their development.
Macaws naturally mate for life around the age of 3-4.
This is when they have reached social and sexual maturity.
Expect your birds to bond closely and remain monogamous as they would in the wild.
This tight bond means that during mating season they could become territorial and protective of one another.
Macaw breeding season is in the first half of the year, from spring to early summer.
In the wild a pair will not generally breed every year, though they can in captivity.
How do I care for a Macaw during egg laying?
It is important to provide your Macaw with an adequate nest box.
These should generally be about 40 inches by 24 inches.
This private space is very important for your hen’s health.
Make sure that both birds are given plenty of space.
A large clean cage is key for both comfort and health.
This will become your birds’ territory, so make sure it’s well suited to a mated pair.
The lighting your birds are exposed to is also important.
Naturally Macaws breed in spring and early summer.
This season is indicated by natural light cycles and weather.
While we can’t control the weather, we can ensure that our birds have exposure to natural light.
If you can’t provide natural lighting, then make sure your artificial lighting is as natural a cycle as possible.
Lastly, be sure that both birds are healthy and well fed.
Make sure they are getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables along with their regular pellets and seeds.
Consider providing food in two spots in the cage and monitor them to make sure both birds are eating plenty.
How can my Macaw lay more than one clutch per year?
In order for your Macaw to lay more than one clutch per year you will have to remove the eggs and incubate them.
The fledglings would then need to be hand raised.
This is popular for most pet birds as it exposes them to humans from the very beginning of their lives.
If your Macaw is allowed to keep her eggs, then she will nest on them for about 26-28 days.
If you allow your birds to rear the fledglings then they will reach independence around 20 weeks of age.
If you choose this path then your Macaw will be limited to one clutch per season.
Keep in mind that if you do choose to hand raise your fledglings it is still wise to keep them around other Macaws.
This is critical for them to learn social and feeding skills.
Many breeders argue that parent raised birds are better adjusted for exactly this reason.
Birds that are hand raised may make for better pets, as they will be more comfortable with humans.
Birds raised by their parents are more likely to bond with another bird, making them better prospects for breeding later in life.
Will breeding my Macaw impact their behavior?
Breeding your Macaws will definitely impact their behavior.
First and foremost, they will bond with one another.
If you are looking to breed your pet bird consider that this life-long monogamous bond will impact their affection towards you, the owner.
Generally pet birds are not bred and breeding birds are not sold as pets simply because a breeding Macaw will not bond with a human.
Their behavior will change during breeding season as their hormone levels rise.
For females they may start to display nesting behaviors.
This could include feather picking and tearing apart other elements of their cage.
Males are likely to become more aggressive.
Both males and females will have less patience and will become more territorial.
Macaws may even begin to protect the cage, nipping owners and being more difficult to handle.
Other behavior changes will include increased screaming, strutting and other showy mating behavior, nesting with whatever material is at hand (even their own feathers), regurgitating food, and overall moodiness.
If you do decide that Macaw breeding is for you then be prepared for all the joys and challenges that come with it.
Decide if you will artificially incubate the eggs or allow your hen to nest with them.
Whichever choice you make, caring for a breeding pair and their fledglings will be a wonderful adventure!