Big, gorgeous, and brightly colored macaws are extremely social, and for many people the ultimate pet bird. Due to their huge size and tendency to lunge at strangers, a lot of people are intimidated by macaws and their big beaks.
But those who own and really know this bird species will tell you that macaws are very affectionate parrots.
But, are macaws cuddly? Yes, macaws are one of the cuddliest parrots, however, they are only physically affectionate with the people they know well. So, don’t expect that an adult macaw will allow you to cuddle with it if you just met.
A macaw that truly loves you and trusts you is almost puppy-like in its affection and will even roll on its back to get belly rubs and cuddles. Note, every macaw is an individual and yours may not be a fan of belly rubs, but he may appreciate some other type of physical affection.
Keep in mind that parrots have distinctive personalities and that hand-reared birds are always cuddlier and tamer than wild-caught parrots.
How to Raise a Cuddly Macaw?
Best described as opinionated, energetic, and stubborn birds, macaws tend to get infatuated with any number of objects or their favorite person and have too much love to give.
However, macaws are big on trust, and won’t become truly affectionate and cuddly until they form a real and deep bond with their owners.
Needless to say, you will need to be extremely patient and work on bonding with your macaw if you want to have a cuddly bird.
Also, if you adopted a macaw who was neglected by his previous owners, be prepared to wait a bit longer for your parrot to trust you. Parrots remember their previous owners really well. We explain what that means for you here!
In time, your gentle giant will let his true personality shine through and become your best friend.
Here are some tips on how to raise a cuddly and happy macaw:
Get a hand-reared macaw
Hand-reared means that the bird was brought up by humans, but not necessarily from birth. Hand raised macaws are cuddly, tame, much easier to handle, and are generally more people-oriented.
You should try to find a macaw that is hand-fed by the breeder, but you can also socialize and teach a young macaw to eat from your hand even if he wasn’t hand-fed.
Socialize your macaw
Although most people find them intimidating, it is very important that you socialize your macaw properly. As all other parrots, macaws are social creatures and need daily interaction with humans.
Since macaws tend to over bond with their owners, they can become overprotective and won’t look kindly on sharing you with others, so it is crucial that you get your parrot socialized from a young age.
Try to spend some time every day near your parrot’s cage talking to him to develop a long-lasting bond. Put your hand on the cage to give your feathered pet a chance to get to know you, and when you feel he is ready, try to pet him with a finger.
Take small steps every day until your macaw is comfortable with you touching him.
Handle your macaw daily
Take your macaw from his cage every day. Rub and nuzzle him with your chin to teach him cuddling behavior. You should also, hold and snuggle with your parrot as often as you can to teach him to be comfortable with physical affection.
Most macaws will be delighted to be handled and will seek out more cuddles, but don’t push your luck if your bird seems uncomfortable. Give your macaw time to get used to being handled and to trust you.
Provide a tangible incentive
Most macaws are extremely food motivated, making food rewards a good training tool. Thus, reward your parrot with his favorite food when he allows you to cuddle him.
You can also use praise and more cuddles to reward good behavior which will help your macaw to trust and bond with you even more.
Can Cuddling Cause a Macaw to Become Hormonal?
While hormonal behavior is completely normal and natural for all parrots, it can be a bit scary for a new owner. While hormonal surges are short-lived in the wild, we tend to do things which trigger them, which often result in aggressive, destructive, and territorial behavior.
By petting your macaw’s back, wings, or tail, you can send his body into hormonal overload. In this state, your parrot will start to perceive you as his mate, and become overly protective of you and aggressive towards everyone else who comes near you.
Your macaw will also look for ways to make a nest, become increasingly louder, and overall seem highly irritable. So, it is never a good idea to pet your macaw’s lower body or area under his wings.
Can Cuddling Cause a Macaw to Regurgitate?
If you are a new parrot owner, you may find the whole concept of regurgitation strange. But, it is completely normal for parrots to regurgitate a small amount of food, and offer it to their loved ones, which is in this case, you.
Just as you are being affectionate with your macaw by cuddling him, he is showing you affection by regurgitating. This is a natural courting behavior, and your parrot may find it adorable to regurgitate on you just to show you how much he appreciates being cuddled.
Keep in mind that sexually mature macaws regurgitate enthusiastically for the people they love, regardless of the nesting season. So, this is just one of the things you will have to get used to! (Or you get a second macaw – here is why we highly recommend that!)
How to Cuddle a Macaw Properly?
Depending on how much your parrot likes to be cuddled you can make it a daily routine or do it just once in a while. And the way you snuggle with your macaw will mainly depend on its age. Here is how to do it:
- If you own a young macaw who hasn’t reached sexual maturity yet, there are generally no restrictions when it comes to the way you pet him. Keep in mind that every macaw is an individual, and your parrot may have some preferences when it comes to cuddling. Try to figure out what he likes and don’t do the things he doesn’t like.
- Things are a bit different with adult macaws, who could go into breeding mode. If you want to keep things friendly, scratching the head and neck, or just stroking the head will be fine. You should avoid embracing your macaw or other full-body contact since this can make your parrot hormonal and cause him to see you as his mate. As always, try to figure out what your parrot likes to ensure a great cuddling experience.
Are macaws smart? Macaws are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds and are also one of the most affectionate parrots. They are sensitive to human emotions which helps them to bond with their owners deeply.
Do macaws make good pets? Macaws are energetic, playful, and smart parrots that make excellent pets in a proper home. However, due to their size and tendency to be very loud, they aren’t the best choice for small apartments and people who like peace and quiet.
Are macaws friendly? Although their size and large beaks can be intimidating, properly socialized macaws are friendly and affectionate companions. They are highly social birds that like to have company and interact with their owners on a daily basis.