Blue-Headed Macaw (Complete Species Profile)

Last Updated on December 28, 2023 by Ali Shahid

Blue-headed macaw or Coulon’s macaw (Primolius couloni) is a rare South American macaw characterized by a blue head, wings, and tail. This elegant bird belongs to the mini-macaw category, alongside Illeger’s and Yellow Collared macaws, measuring approximately 41 cm (16 inches).

Compared to its Macaw counterparts, the Blue-Headed Macaw is notably quieter. Its compact size makes it a flexible choice, especially for those with limited space, earning its designation as a Mini-Macaw.

These birds possess a gentle nature, making them approachable and fun companions. For those new to bird ownership, they are a perfect fit, offering years of delightful company with their vivid hues and loving demeanor. Impressively robust, they can live between 30 to 40 years. Yet, it’s disheartening to note their dwindling numbers, with an estimated count of only 10,000 remaining.

Due to their rarity, acquiring a Blue-headed macaw can be a significant investment, ranging between $4,000 and $6,500. Reliable platforms like ParrotStars, Brendasbirds, and Anasparrots offer these birds for purchase. Continue reading to know everything about blue-headed macaws.

Blue Headed Macaw

Blue-Headed Macaw Overview

CategoryDetails
Scientific NamePrimolius couloni
Common NameBlue-headed macaw or Coulon’s macaw
OriginAmazon forests of Bolivia and Peru
SizeApproximately 41 cm (16 inches)
Weight250-350 gm
Body ColorsGreen plumage with blue head, wings, and tail
PersonalityGentle, social, and affectionate
Beginner FriendlyYes
Care LevelModerate
VocalizationQuiet purring in flight; soft nasal noises when resting
Clutch SizeTypically 2 to 4 eggs in captivity
Lifespan30-40 years
Prices$4,000 – $6,500
Places to BuyParrotStars, Brendasbirds, Anasparrots
IUCN StatusVulnerable based on recent data

Origin and History of Blue-Headed Macaw

Blue-headed macaws inhabit the Amazon forests of Bolivia and Peru. For decades, the “Luminous Path” terrorist group controlled its habitat in Peru, making this bird relatively unknown.

These groups have disappeared, which has led to a better understanding of the species and its classification as an endangered species. Several reasons have been driving concern about the Blue-headed Macaw’s status in the wild in recent years.

The species are rare in aviculture, so trapping them makes more sense. During the next three generations, it is expected that the population of the species will decline by approximately 30% due to hunting and/or trapping.

According to WorldParrotTrust, there are as few as 10,000 blue-headed macaws left in the wild. In addition, its numbers vary according to food availability, making it difficult to estimate population density.

Physical Appearance

A blue-headed macaw measures 41 centimeters (16 inches) in length. The bird’s plumage is primarily green (sometimes tinged with olive below) with blue feathers on the head, flight feathers, and primary coverts.

Generally, the upper tail is maroon at the base, green in the center, and blue at the tip. There is greenish-yellow coloration on the undertail and underwing, similar to that on several other small macaws (such as red-bellied macaws and golden-collared macaws).

This medium-sized bird has a greyish-horn bill with a black base. In this species, the iris is whitish with a thin, usually barely visible maroon ring around the pupil. As opposed to most other macaws, this species has dark greyish facial skin.

As for the legs, they are pink. Adults and juveniles are similar in appearance, but juveniles have black bills, gray legs, darker iris, and white facial skin.

Personality

Similarly to other macaws, the blue-headed macaw is an affectionate and social bird that can be kept and handled easily. In many cases, these birds develop a strong attachment to their owners and become excellent companions.

Although exotic birds can be extremely entertaining, they can also be time-consuming and expensive to maintain. The blue-headed macaw requires a great deal of playtime, socialization, and frequent veterinary visits in addition to the proper provision of environmental enrichment.

Speech & Vocalizations

While in flight, the blue-headed macaw makes a quiet, purring sound. However, when at rest, macaws make soft nasal noises, squawks, and shrieks.

Even though it is sometimes noisy and rowdy, this bird is less aggressive than the commonly seen blue-winged macaw.

Generally, macaws are considered a moderately noisy species. Some individuals may attempt to mimic the sounds of humans or the environment.

Breeding

It is unknown how the species reproduces in the wild, though nests are possible in bamboo cavities and tree cavities. In captivity, reproduction occurs approximately annually with clutch sizes usually ranging from two to four.

Blue-Headed Macaw Caring

The blue-headed macaw is a hardy bird and is a good choice for a beginner bird keeper. Depending on their size, they can reach a height of 16 inches. To prevent escape, cages must have many branches, vines, water basins, and secure locks.

The bottom of the cage can be filled with coconut husks, bark, wood shavings, or puppy pads to absorb urine. To reduce stress, keep your cage out of direct sunlight and high-traffic areas.

Normally, blue-headed macaws live in groups of up to fifty individuals. Having a companion or two in a large cage or aviary may be beneficial to a macaw in captivity.

Keeping a few birds together requires providing them with their own space and avoiding territorial behavior. If you want to bring home a blue-headed macaw, ensure that you have the time to handle, exercise, and enrich your bird.

The cage must also be cleaned regularly, and food and water must be provided. Ideally, fresh water should be added twice daily to the water basin. Nail trimming and wing trimming are also necessary for birds.

Diet

These birds eat a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits, and green foods. There are also likely to be insects in the mix, particularly if the young are being raised.

Furthermore, they feed on mineral-rich clay licks. By using this clay, the body can be protected from natural toxins derived from food consumption.

Captive birds can be provided with a good quality seed mix. The availability of fresh fruits, vegetables, and green food should also be provided, along with a few pine nuts.

Furthermore, minerals should be supplemented – primarily calcium – prior to and during the breeding season. Chicks need soft food such as egg food or half-ripe maize while being raised.

Health Problems

Generally, blue-headed macaws are a hardy species. However, your bird must have an examination from a qualified avian veterinarian every six months. During the exam, your veterinarian will check for bacterial or parasitic infections and vaccinate against common diseases. Here are some of the common health problems of blue-headed macaws:

  • Aspergillus
  • Psittacosis
  • Polyoma
  • Avian Gastric Yeast
  • Candidiasis
  • Proventricular Dilatation syndrome
  • Nutritional Deficiencies

Population Number and Conservation

A review by BirdLife International in 2006 indicated that the blue-throated macaw population is declining, with an estimated population of 1000 to 2500 individuals. The 2007 Red List of the IUCN has therefore upgraded it to endangered status. According to the Worldparrottrust, there may be as few as 10,000 blu-headed macaws remaining in the wild.

Tobias & Brightsmith suggest that previous estimates were too low, with actual numbers of 9200-46000 mature individuals. Therefore, it has been suggested that this species should be classified as vulnerable.

While most of the forest in its range is intact, habitat loss may pose a threat, at least to a local level. The capture of wild birds for trade poses a serious threat to their survival. 

From Where You Can Get a Blue-Headed Macaw

A blue-headed macaw can be purchased from a breeder, pet store, or rescue organization. Due to its rarity, this macaw can cost anywhere from $4000 to $6500. The price of a bird may differ depending on its gender, age, appearance, and health. If you are looking for blue-headed macaws for sale you can get one from reputable and authentic sources like ParrotStars, Brendasbirds, and Anasparrots.

Blue-headed macaws are adopted through bird adoption and rescue organizations. Often outliving their owners, birds end up in a rescue center due to their long life expectancy of 30-40 years or more. When you buy or adopt a bird, make sure it gets a veterinary checkup and is quarantined.

Author

  • Ali Shahid

    Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.

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