Macaws are beautiful, intelligent pets and owning them can be hugely rewarding as they are loyal and can be trained to respond to commands. At the same time, macaws can be challenging pets because they demand more time than most pets do. And oh, they can be very noisy and really, really messy!
Are macaws messy? The general rule of the thumb is that the larger the bird, the bigger the mess they make. Macaws are the largest birds and are the messiest too. In fact, it’s safe to say macaws are the messiest pets you can keep. They fling their food, shed feathers and shred anything they can put their beak to.
If you’re thinking of getting yourself a pet bird, remember there is no such thing as a tidy bird. From the smallest budgerigars to the hyacinth macaws, birds are messy.
If you are looking to keep a bird that will let your home stay clean and tidy, the macaw is most certainly not what you want to own. The intelligence of macaws is well-known, and they actually come up with creative ways to be messy, apart from the standard ones!
In fact, some bird owners say their birds mess up an entire room even when they’re confined to their cage!
1. They fling food all over the place, not just the bottom of the cage
Yup. For a macaw, there is no such thing as tidy eating. The hulls of seeds and shells from nuts they eat will be dropped carelessly to the bottom of the cage, as will a half-eaten piece of fruit or vegetable.
While seed catchers work with most birds, macaws have an exasperating habit of using their beak to toss out seeds from a mixed serving if they’re looking for a favorite. The force of the swipe throws seeds all over the place, making seed catchers fairly useless!
Some macaws like to eat their food on the cage door or on their playset, casually dropping half-eaten fruit and vegetables to the ground and sprinkling shells around!
2. Flinging food is a natural instinct in macaws
Remember that birds, especially macaws, are not really domesticated like cats and dogs are. Their DNA is the same it was a couple of centuries ago when they first became popular as pets. This means their natural, living-in-the-wild instincts are still very strong.
In the wild, macaws play an important role in seed dispersion and regrowth of vegetation. While eating a fruit or seed in the wild, a macaw will do what it does in a house – eat half of it and throw the rest away.
This helps in dispersal of the seed as it is flung down in the same area, or when it is excreted as undigested wasted while the bird is not in the place it ate the original seed at.
Being recently adopted as pets means macaws have not gotten their role as nature’s seed dispersers out of their nature yet.
3. Macaws like playing with their food.
To compound their rather bad eating manners, macaws like playing with their food. It is common for them to dunk their pelleted food in the water bowl, then fling the resulting gunk out with their beak when they can’t find water to drink!
Also, after eating a squishy banana or mango, the macaw will casually wipe its beak on the nearest item, whether it is its perch or your sofa!
4. You can’t limit the mess because macaws eat all day long!
Macaws have small stomachs and digestive tracts that empty quickly and makes them hungry regularly throughout the day. If you’re treating your bird right, you’ll always have food and water available in the cage.
This means seeds, fruits, and vegetables will be flung around every little while.
Remember, birds are not domesticated like cats and dogs. They cannot be trained to eat at certain times and can’t really be taught to poop in designated areas at certain times.
5. Macaws can and will shred whatever they can get their beaks on!
From chew toys like ropes and blocks of untreated wood to your furniture and electrical cables, anything that a parrot can put its beak to will be shredded and ripped.
If you’re thinking of keeping a macaw, add rope fibers, wood shavings, furniture stuffing and other items you never considered “shred-able” to the list of things you’ll need to keep clearing from your parrot’s vicinity such as curtains, paper, picture frames and more!
If you want to know how you can stop this destructive behavior, read our article on how to stop a parrot from chewing furniture here!
6. Macaws don’t know food insecurity, so wastage is fine
Food is plentiful in the wild for macaws. The jungles they live have a plentiful supply for fruits and nuts, and they don’t understand the concept of not wasting food.
These birds are known to throw away a piece fruit after just a few nibbles and pick up another one when eating in the wild, tossing that after a couple of bites too.
They follow the same pattern in a domestic environment, and while in the wild this wastage is beneficial for regrowth and for those birds who feed on the discarded fruit, in a house, it adds up to an already messy home!
7. The more they eat, the more they poop
All birds poop frequently because they process their food quickly. Macaws poop an average of 20 times a day, and the consistency of their stool depends on their diet.
A diet comprising mostly fresh fruits and vegetables – the healthiest type for a bird – means watery stools that are super messy! While we are talking about poop – you might also want to know if macaws smell. We show you what to expect here!
Keeping macaws caged most of the day will limit the mess to a certain area but that’s cruel to the bird and leaving them out of the cage means cleaning up poop from all over a room including upholstery and flooring!
8. Macaws actually create a mess when they clean!
You heard that right!
Macaws, like all birds, are fastidious in their grooming routine and are regularly preening themselves and any companions around. They also shed their insulation feathers and dander, and molt at least once a year. We explain more about molting here!
All this cleaning, shedding and molting results in powdery feather dander and small insulation feathers floating around the room the macaw is in, settling on the furniture and on the floor.
Things get especially messy when the macaw flaps its wings and stirs up the shed feathers and discarded seed hulls!
Are macaws the right birds for me?
Macaws are the largest birds in the world and need lots of space. They’re noisy, messy and needy. Considering their long lifespan, if you’re an expert at keeping birds and willing to commit to the long-term relationship, macaws make great pets.
Do macaws like showers?
Macaws, like most birds, enjoy being misted with a spray bottle. They move around and lift their wings so they get as wet as they want to. Some macaws will happily shower in the bathroom with their human, while others may prefer a large enough birdbath. See what your parrot likes and shower accordingly about once a week.