While macaws are some of the largest parrots in the world, they’re also among the friendliest. Affectionately known as “gentle giants,” they’re a surprisingly playful and affectionate parrot species. However, some types of macaws are much friendlier than others.
The hyacinth macaw is considered to be the friendliest macaw. Despite being the world’s largest parrot species, it has a sweet, gentle personality and loves to shower its owners with affection. Other friendly macaws include the Hahn’s, the Illiger’s, and the yellow-collared macaw. With consistent training, handling, and socialization, all macaws can develop a strong bond with their owners.
Macaws can be shy birds at first, but they make loving and affectionate companions once they get to know you. That being said, they require high levels of care, so they’re not for beginner parrot owners.
Which Macaw Is The Friendliest?
The most friendly type of macaw is the hyacinth. Despite its large size, it’s known as the most gentle macaw for its sweet, friendly temperament.
Some owners are intimidated by their 40-inch frame and sharp, powerful beaks. However, they soon realize that their size is nothing to worry about.
Because of their docile nature, hyacinth macaws are easy to train with positive reinforcement. This allows owners to build a bond with their birds. It also teaches hyacinth macaws good habits, preventing them from becoming bored or aggressive. However, this isn’t a trait they’re usually associated with. Hyacinth macaws are also:
- Loving: They enjoy cuddling up.
- Affectionate and form strong bonds.
- Capable of purring, especially when they’re comfortable around you.
- Vocalize when they’re happy.
- Docile and easy-going once they’re socialized.
- Loyal and eager to please.
One thing to mention with hyacinth macaws is that they can become one-person parrots if all members of the household don’t handle them while they’re young. Because of their naturally friendly nature, they become bonded to one person and get jealous when they’re not the center of attention.
They’re also prone to nipping when they’re not handled properly. Though, this can be trained out of them while they’re growing.
So, while hyacinth macaws are the friendliest macaws, owners must provide an element of training and socialization to ensure their bird displays these positive traits.
Other Friendly Macaw Species
While the hyacinth macaw is the friendliest macaw, many others are affectionate and loving too, enjoying human company.
Similarly, hyacinth macaws are expensive and difficult to find as pets. As a result, if your budget doesn’t extend to a hyacinth macaw, you’ll need to consider other macaws that do well in captivity. Friendly macaws include:
Hahn’s macaws are the smallest of all macaws, but they’re also one of the friendliest. Despite being so little, they’re packed with personality. They’re also very gentle and love being cuddled and scratched under the chin once they’ve bonded with their owners. Once they’ve formed that bond, they become very attached.
Similarly, Hahn’s macaws are avid talkers and can recite words and phrases, making them one of the friendliest talking parrots.
When they’re adequately trained from a young age, Hahn’s macaws become highly affectionate birds. However, it does take time, effort, dedication, and consistent training to get them to this point. Hahn’s macaws are also:
- Easy to train
However, there are some things to look out for. Like hyacinth macaws, Hahn’s macaws can become one-person birds if they’re not socialized from a young age. If they’re not handled by all members of the family, they become jealous and, in the worst cases, aggressive.
They’re also a little bit nippy once they’ve been weaned. In a journal published by Natural Encounters, parrots normally bite because of aggression or play. As a result, owners need to train them to stop biting. If they don’t, Hahn’s macaws carry this behavior to adulthood, where it becomes a bad habit.
Illiger’s macaws, also known as blue-winged macaws, are known for their friendly, clown-like personalities. They enjoy human interaction more than other macaws, especially if they’ve been hand-fed from a young age.
As long as their owners provide them with constant care and attention, they form strong bonds with them. These bonds are so strong that some Illiger’s macaws feed off their owners’ emotions, mimicking them.
Whenever your Illiger’s macaw wants to play, it’ll call like a crow. They’ll also greet their owners whenever they walk by the cage as a way to gain attention. Illiger’s macaws are also:
- Curious and like to investigate everything they see
While Illiger’s macaws are loving and friendly, they require high levels of mental stimulation. Without it, they get bored and agitated. They’ll also become aggressive if their owners don’t show them the same kind of affection they offer their owners. Similarly, they hold grudges.
As a result, Illiger’s macaws aren’t suitable pets for people who are away from the house all day.
Though yellow-collared macaws are mischievous, they’re very friendly and affectionate. This is because they have strong pairing and flocking instincts that extend to their human owners.
They also thrive from their owners’ attention and will cuddle up to them and preen them to show their appreciation.
However, for yellow-collared macaws to be so friendly and loving, owners must train them first. When you put the time and effort in, they can become deeply bonded to their parrot. Yellow-collard macaws are also:
Yellow-collared macaws are good at learning words from their owners and enjoy reciting their newly-learned words and phrases back to them. As goofy birds, they love showing off their new-found tricks.
Like most macaws, yellow-collared macaws are at risk of becoming one-person birds if they’re not handled by everyone in the household. Similarly, they become noisy if they’re not given enough attention.
Are Male Macaws Friendlier Than Females?
Some owners prefer male macaws, while others prefer females. While some owners are adamant they can tell the difference between the sex’s personalities, the truth is, it’s almost impossible to determine how each macaw will behave as it matures.
Hormones are also to blame for personality changes. Even the friendliest, sweetest macaws may experience cycles of unwanted behaviors during hormone surges.
Female macaws can become hormonal and aggressive when they reach sexual maturity. This usually happens around the springtime.
Similarly, when the breeding season approaches, females become broody and territorial, and won’t allow their owners to come near them. However, other female macaws become overly friendly and see their owners as their mate.
Each parrot reacts differently, but these behaviors will pass as soon as the hormone levels regulate. However, males are also affected by similar hormones and may also show signs of aggression or sexual stimulation during this time.
There’s no way to tell how male and female macaws’ personalities will develop, so don’t be put off if you experience some mood changes while they’re going through hormonal surges.
Do Macaws Love Their Owners?
As we’ve already touched upon, many macaws are affectionate towards their owners. This isn’t necessarily determined by the species of macaw – it’s mostly down to handling, socialization, and training.
While a macaw’s natural personality makes it easier to form a bond, parrot owners can build one if they’re patient enough.
Because macaws are so large, many parrot owners mistakenly believe that they’re not as capable of showing love and affection as cockatoos and budgies, both of which are well known for bonding with their owners.
That being said, macaws only show love to people they know best. Macaws rarely show their owners love straight away, especially as adults, so they need to feel comfortable around their owners before they start showing signs of affection.
Cockatoos, on the other hand, are happy to cuddle up to complete strangers. So when a macaw shows you love and affection, they mean it. Signs that macaws love their owners include:
- Cuddling up to you
- Preening and grooming you
- Whistling and singing
- Clicking their tongue when you walk by
- Mimicking you
- Making eye contact
- Pupil dilation
- Bowing their head
- Flapping their wings and tail
- Hanging upside down
- Stretching their wing towards you
- Puffing up their feathers
- Grinding their beaks
- Regurgitating their food for you
If your parrot does any of the above, your macaw feels bonded with you.
Are Macaws Cuddly?
Macaws are one of the cuddliest parrots. But like with how they display love and affection, they only cuddle up to people they know well. If you haven’t taken the time to form a close bond with your parrot, it won’t cuddle up to you. That’s because it doesn’t feel comfortable enough around you yet.
However, macaws become very cuddly when they’re feeling sexually frustrated. This is most likely to happy with young parrots experiencing hormonal changes. Alongside cuddling, macaws suffering from sexual frustration will:
- Regurgitate with a bob of its head
- Quiver or shake
- Cluck or make a mating call
- Raise their tail or wings
- Mount your hand or another nearby object
- Drop wings
- Begin panting
According to the Italian Journal of Animal Science, these are all signs that your bird feels sexually stimulated. As a result, you should avoid cuddling up to your parrot until this behavior stops.
To turn your macaw into a cuddly pet, follow these steps:
Spend Time Socializing
Though macaws are large and intimidating birds, they need to be socialized in order to become tame, cuddly birds. To do this, talk to your parrot every day and play with it as much as you can using its favorite toys and games.
Similarly, get your parrot out of its cage and stay close to it as it explores its surroundings. Your macaw will eventually associate this fun behavior with you.
Handle Your Parrot
Similar to socializing, handle your macaw as much as you can until it learns that you’re a friend, not a foe. Give your parrot regular cuddles while gently rubbing its chin, and hold it as much as you can until it starts acting relaxed and comfortable around you.
There’s no better way to encourage your macaw to give you a cuddle than with its favorite treats. Incentives make a great training tool – and they’re also an excellent way to reward your parrot every time it cuddles you, incentivizing it to do it more often.
Are Macaws Affectionate?
As we’ve already mentioned, while some macaws are affectionate by nature, you can train all parrots to be loving. That being said, some macaws are naturally shy, timid birds. It all depends on your bird’s personality.
One way that macaws show their affection to owners is by regurgitating their food. Food regurgitation is a sexual behavior typically associated with parrot couples. Therefore, when it comes to captive macaws, it’s also a sign of affection.
Unfortunately, this behavior is unpleasant for most owners, who mistake regurgitation for a sign of an illness or behavioral problem. As a result, they scald their parrot or clean up the mess without acknowledging the parrot’s affection.
Similarly, while many macaws show affection, some demand it back, too. This means they require constant attention, becoming vocal if they don’t get what they want. This constant need for attention is why macaws aren’t suitable for owners who are away from home a lot or don’t have much time to spend with their owners.
When neglected, macaws get bored and agitated and will pluck out their feathers in response. They may also bite the cage’s bars in an attempt to chew through them.
What’s The Least Aggressive Macaw?
Macaws aren’t naturally aggressive. They’re a stubborn species of parrot, but they’re far from mean-spirited.
That being said, some macaws attempt to bite their owners more than others, such as the Hahn’s macaw. They’re not necessarily being nasty, but they’re simply displaying one of their natural behaviors.
However, most macaws have large, strong, sharp beaks, so their bite can be painful. If you’re dealing with an aggressive macaw, it’s likely because of at least one of the following reasons:
- It hasn’t been socialized properly
- It’s feeling scared or threatened
- It’s jealous of other animals or people
- It’s hormonal
- It’s attempting to dominate you
- It’s bored and lacking mental stimulation
- It’s stressed
- It was mistreated before you acquired it
While all macaws can be trained to make them less aggressive, you might want to consider a calmer parrot. The least aggressive macaw species include:
- Green-winged macaw
- Blue-and-gold macaw
- Blue-throated macaw
- Hyacinth macaw
These macaws are more docile and friendly, making it easier for owners to build a bond with them while rooting out aggressive tendencies.
What Is It Like To Own A Macaw?
As long as you have the time and patience to care for a macaw, they make good pets. Macaws are often overlooked in favor of smaller parrots, like budgies and parakeets.
However, owners who have parrot-handling experience find macaws to be packed with personality, providing hours of fun and entertainment. They’re also comical and eager to please. Owners love raising macaws because they show their affection physically.
While macaws are friendly, they demand constant attention and become very clingy. If you don’t provide them with enough attention, they become misbehaved and hard to manage.
They’ll also become jealous of other pets and people in the household. They’re naturally loud birds, so they’ll vocalize their displeasure, making a ton of noise. Because of their large size, this noise can be hard to bear in a small house.
Make no mistake – caring for a macaw is hard work. But once you’ve put the time and effort into bonding with your parrot, you’ll have a sweet and loving friend for life.