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Macaws are the largest members of the parrot family, and are found only in South and Central America. There are nineteen species, but unfortunately most are critically endangered.

Their numbers have been decimated by poachers taking chicks to be sold for the exotic pet trade, and by the destruction of the rainforest.

Do not buy a macaw as a pet. They can bite fingers off, and they can be very aggressive with strangers.

They are noisy and are best enjoyed either in the wild or in a zoo setting, not as caged birds.

Facts & Myths

  • Macaws eat a varied diet of fruit, vegetables, leaves, seeds, insects, and honey as well as nuts.
  • Macaws can crack Brazil nuts with their beaks. They have the strongest beak of any bird species.
  • Macaws are considered, along with other large parrots and ravens, to be the smartest members of the bird family. They are able to use beak and feet like we use our hands to manipulate objects, and are accomplished escape artists.
  • The brightly coloured feathers used in traditional Amerindian ceremonial headdresses come from Macaws. A plan is underway to send feathers moulted from zoo birds to indigenous peoples so they will not hunt the last of the wild birds.
  • Macaws nest in huge tall and very old hollow trees scooping out nest holes with their powerful beaks. Unfortunately, logging for tropical hardwoods takes these trees out first, leaving macaws no where to nest. You can help. Do not buy tropical hardwoods. Instead buy sustainably logged hardwoods, and help both macaws in the wild and the Canadian logging industry.

Macaws at the Bowmanville Zoo

Macaws have lived at the Bowmanville Zoo since the zoo opened.