As bird lovers we want to provide the absolute best homes for our parrots.
They are incredibly social creatures.
A question often arises about whether it is better to keep our birds in pairs or alone so that they can bond with us humans.
Macaws in particular love companionship, so it is worth looking into whether or not your macaw would be better in a pair or on its own.
There are pros and cons to each choice, and it often comes down to the personality of your individual bird.
There are a lot of factors to consider, so without further ado let’s dig in. Should macaws be kept in pairs?
Macaws are very social and form close bonds, so they should be kept in pairs if their owner cannot meet their social needs on their own. However, there is no one size fits all answer, as each owner and bird will be different. Factors to consider include gender, how the macaws were raised, owner lifestyle, and bird personality.
The most important thing is that your macaw’s social needs are met for its mental and physical health.
They will form close bonds, and if they don’t get enough attention from their owner, it can cause behavior issues.
This could be resolved by keeping your macaw in a pair.
On the other hand, certain birds may not live well together.
This could be because of territorial behavior, gender, and fundamental personality differences.
Parrots that don’t get along could fight and even injure one another.
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Do macaws need a companion?
Whether human or bird, macaws definitely need a companion.
Macaws are energetic and very playful.
They love to play, and they will bond quite closely with their owners or other macaws.
Because they are highly affectionate macaws have high attention requirements.
If you choose to keep a macaw on its own then this time spent with your bird is especially important.
If training and bonding are done carefully then you will have an affectionate, cuddly companion.
Macaws can also bond to another macaw.
In the wild macaws are monogamous and mate for life.
This bonded pair relationship is very important to their health and viability in a wild environment.
The same behavior carries into domestic scenarios.
Bonded parrots can provide socialization, providing a calm and happier environment.
Keeping a pair could even open up the world of parrot mating, though that’s too big a topic to cover here.
So what if your macaw is domesticated and doesn’t have a mate?
It will bond with you, the owner!
This means that all the safety and security your bird would get from its pair is placed onto you, leading to a very close parrot-owner relationship.
What are the benefits of keeping macaws in pairs?
There are many reasons to keep macaws in pairs, primarily that it ensures their social needs are met.
While our lives may get busy or our circumstances may change a bonded pair will always be kept together.
This consistent social bond will help to maintain both birds’ mental and physical health.
In the wild macaws live in flocks and mate for life.
It is very hard for an owner to replicate this much social interaction, no matter how dedicated.
Parrots who do not have enough attention will likely experience anxiety and behaviors such as feather picking.
Keeping a pair of macaws would most likely help to keep them calm and engaged even while the humans of the house are away at work.
The ideal scenario would be if you can find two macaws that were raised together.
This is because they are accustomed to one another, there is less risk of one rejecting the other, and there is an existing bond.
This is the safest way to ensure your pair of macaws gets along well.
It can also be beneficial to specifically keep mated parrots together.
They form a close emotional bond and should not be separated.
Parrots of the opposite sex will form the best bonds and are less likely to become territorial and aggressive with one another.
Of course, keep in mind that keeping two parrots of the opposite sex together could lead to baby macaws!
Unless you are looking to enter the world of macaw mating this is a factor you should keep in mind.
What downsides should owners watch for when keeping macaws in pairs?
A major downside of keeping a pair of macaws is quite simply that you take on the responsibility for two birds.
While keeping a pair may help prevent them from becoming depressed or anxious, it also means double the bills, double the chores, and double the noise.
Some birds can also become territorial and aggressive.
This can happen for a few reasons or could even simply mean that their personalities are not compatible.
When introducing a new bird, you must monitor them closely to make sure neither gets injured.
Macaws of the same gender generally should not be kept together, even if raised together.
Especially for males, adolescent hormones can cause aggression and territorial behavior, leading to injuries and poor mental health.
A macaw that was raised individually may not be very keen on welcoming a new parrot either.
Your existing parrot may feel territorial over the space or may feel closely bonded to you.
Again, this can result in territorial aggression and even jealously.
While in the long run keeping your macaws in pairs can reduce the amount of time they require in terms of training and attention, there will still be an added amount of labor.
During the introduction phase you will have to pay especially close attention to their environment.
Lastly, there is always a risk that the pairing does not work out.
Plan for this before committing to buying a new bird.
Make sure you have a contingency plan if they do not get along.
Can macaws live with other types of birds?
As a general rule macaws should not be kept with other species of parrot.
Macaws are large, energetic, and play hard.
They could injure a smaller bird, even without meaning to.
Macaws are also very confident, bold birds.
They can become territorial or bully a parrot of another species.
This could lead to injury or even fatality given a macaw’s size and strength.
Some owners also keep other birds in the room, though in separate cages.
While this can provide a good social environment keep in mind that parrot species will not communicate easily.
This can provide stimulation but is not a replacement for the bond your macaw will need with you or another macaw.