Last Updated on December 8, 2022 by Ali Shahid
The severe macaw (Ara severus) is among the most active and largest of the mini-macaws. It is also known as the chestnut-fronted macaw. It’s about 45 cm (18 in) long, half of which is its tail.
In tropical forests, it lives in pairs or large flocks and is native to Central and South America. They’re small, easy to care for, and packed with personality. Additionally, they’re great talkers and like to hang out with humans.
It’s always fun to have this loving and energetic parrot around because it’s always friendly. They’re also great companions because of their long lifespan (30-90 years).
They are called chestnut-fronted macaws because of the chestnut-colored feathers across their foreheads, the “Severe” name ascribed to them because of their aggressive nature as they grow older.
Here’s some information about this species, including personality traits, food intake requirements, and how to care for it.
Origin and History of Severe Macaw
Originally, they came from Nicaragua to Colombia. Additionally, they can be found in Panama and Brazil, where habitat destruction has resulted in a decline in their numbers.
Severe macaws have ancestors who lived during the Pleistocene and were divided into two groups. Eventually, these groups developed into conures and macaws.
In this group, the first split led to conures, which are typically smaller than the larger New World parrots (such as macaws). Second, there is the macaw group, which has a larger size and a less diverse beak shape.
Both the severe macaw and the Military Macaw are closely related, but they look quite different from each other. Additionally, they exhibit many of the same behaviors and appearances as the Blue-throated Macaw.
While the severe macaw does not have the ability to talk, the blue-throated macaw can be trained to do so. In the wild, severe macaws prefer forests and habitats that contain trees. Generally, they like areas that flood a lot.
Because they like to roost in tree cavities, they can be hard to see. These birds have plenty of food in farm fields. Early in the morning, large flocks are often found foraging in the fields. Farmers may find these birds annoying.
Clay licks are often a gathering point for severe macaws and other birds. Many parrots enjoy these clay hills along riverbanks, which are usually caused by erosion. According to some theories, clay protects them from toxins and provides the minerals they need.
Mostly green, the severe macaw’s wings have red and blue patches on the flight feathers. In the center of the head, just above the beak, there is a patch of chestnut brown color.
Likewise, there is a touch of chestnut brown at the tips of the chest feathers as well as some brown on the opposite sides of the cheeks and under the chin of these birds. Besides the black beak, it also has white patches around the eyes with black lines.
The only miniature macaw with feathers around its eyes. Only this mini-macaw has lines of red-brown feathers on the white skin of its face, as is typical of larger macaws.
Most of the tail feathers are green, except those in the central area, which are red-brown, becoming blue towards the tips. It measures 45–50 cm (17.5–19.5 in) in length and weighs 300–410 g (11–14 oz).
The severe macaw has not been domesticated to the same extent as other parrot species due to its lack of captive breeding. They still lunge and screech like they always have. However, they make great pets when they’re socialized as babies.
Severe macaws are known for their friendly, comical personality. The severe macaw bonds quickly with its owners, learn tricks, and can talk impressively with enough socialization. There’s also a curious side to severe macaws.
Puzzles and games are their favorite things, and shiny things captivate them. Put your jewelry away so it doesn’t get damaged unintentionally. There is one characteristic of this friendly species that seems out of place: they generally do not like to be touched a lot.
Quite often, this parrot prefers to be near its owner or on his or her shoulder, but in most instances, he does not enjoy cuddling or petting. Upon reaching maturity, severe macaws go through a bluffing stage similar to many other parrots.
The duration of this stage can range from two weeks to two years. When you first get a young macaw, you’ll have to be patient and enforce its training when it lunges, nips, bites, and generally doesn’t want to play. It’s for this reason that pre-adolescent macaws aren’t suitable for families with kids.
Speech & Vocalizations
The severe macaw or chestnut-fronted macaw usually makes a lot of noise. The more excited they get, the louder they get. It’s probably because, in the wild, these macaws make loud sounds to warn their group about food threats.
In this sense, it is quite natural for them to make a lot of noise. There is usually some chirping sound from the males, but it does not seem to be nearly as annoying as that made by the females.
A male’s call sounds like a whistle, and a female’s voice is sharper and more difficult to listen to. It’s not the right bird for you if you’re looking for a bird that talks a lot. Severe macaws are one of the quieter macaw species.
It may turn away many potential owners owing to their less frequent spoken patterns and difficulty mimicking human speech patterns. However, they have a very extensive vocabulary and can understand what they hear.
Since they are capable of communicating in human language, they would make excellent pets for the pet trade (if you can tame one).
Your bird will enjoy showing off his or her talents in front of people, so have them do tricks or simply follow simple commands such as “come here. Additionally, you might hear teeth grinding or chattering and guttural growling from this species.
Although the breeding season is the most common time to hear them, don’t panic if you hear them on other days!
It is important to note that breeding seasons vary by location. Generally, they breed between February and March in Panama, between March and May in Colombia, and between September and December in the Guianas and Suriname.
Nesting usually occurs in tree cavities, whether dead or living. There are usually two to three oval, white eggs in a clutch. These eggs measure approximately 1.5 by 1.2 inches (38.5 by 30.5 millimeters).
It takes approximately 26 – 28 days for the eggs to hatch. After about three months of age, the young leave the nest but remain with their parents for some time afterward.
Caring for a Severe Macaw
While severe macaws are known to be very social, all parrots require a certain amount of training to ensure that the bird remains tame. Make sure that you have at least two hours to spend with your pet each day.
Without socialization and adequate mental stimulation, severe macaws can grow bored and depressed, which can lead to destructive behavior and stress-related illness.2
Severe macaws can be fun pets but require time and specialized care that not everyone can provide. They thrive on family time because it replicates the feeling of a flock, and, unlike some other parrots, they don’t tend to become strictly one-person birds.
Another consideration before you commit to this bird is the cost of ownership. In addition to the initial layout for the bird, think about the avian veterinarian bills, high-quality feed, and the accessory costs for a cage, play stand, and toys.
Even for a smaller macaw, this bird needs a cage sized for a large macaw that is at least 5 feet tall, and 3-feet wide, and 2 feet long. These birds need room to stretch out their wings fully and ample space to move about the cage without hindrance.
Usually, they eat seeds, nuts, fruits, green leafy matter, and flowers in the wild. Fresh, bird-safe fruits and vegetables plus high-quality seed and pellet mix should be fed to your severe macaw daily.
Depending on the size of the macaw, it’ll eat about half a cup to 3/4 a cup of parrot mix every day. The best time to feed your pet is in the morning when you wake up and at dusk before it sleeps. These fruits are good for macaws:
The best vegetables are
- Sweet Potatoes
- Leafy greens
Common Health Problems
The severe macaw is a hardy bird that can adapt to a variety of situations. They are considered to be healthy and robust birds and are unlikely to encounter any problems.
There is a lot of attention given to hygiene, diet, and social interaction during this entire process. They form strong bonds with you and rely on your friendship and company.
Taking care of your pet parrot’s needs will ensure that they remain healthy and happy. However, severe macaws are still susceptible to the following diseases:
- Kidney Disease
- Beak Malformation
- Feather picking
- Constricted toe syndrome
- Viral, bacterial and fungal infection
- Proventricular Dilatation Disease
Regular checkups good nutrition, and plenty of attention are the best ways to prevent any of these health issues.
Further, once these diseases have begun to spread throughout the body, they are very difficult to treat, so it is best to detect any problems as early as possible.
Despite being smaller, severe macaws are all muscled. It is not uncommon for a severe macaw to fly hundreds of miles in search of food each day in the wild. Hence, providing your pet with adequate exercise is essential to ensuring a healthy body in captivity.
It is generally recommended that severe macaws be allowed to play outside of their cage for at least two to four hours each day. The bird will benefit from exercising its wings and beak while out of the cage.
It’s also a good idea to give your bird a lot of toys. You can give them puzzles or games and they’ll love them. Rotate your bird’s toys frequently so it feels like it always has a new one to play with.
From where you can get a Severe or Chestnut-Fronted Macaw
When purchasing your severe macaw, ensure that the breeder you choose is reputable. You’ll usually have to pay a high price for these birds, so make sure you don’t get ripped off.
In the case that you can’t find a breeder in your area, you can order them online from breeders. However, they can cost up to $1,000 online! The shipping costs aren’t included. Therefore, you should ensure that you receive a good deal before making a purchase.
Otherwise, you may wish to contact your local animal shelter or adoption center. These facilities are typically home to birds rescued from abuse or whose owners have been in trouble with them.
If you have time to spend grooming, a severe macaw is the ideal pet bird for you. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a product that requires a minimal amount of effort, it may not be the best option.
It’s really important to give them lots of attention because otherwise, they can be destructive! These birds would make a great addition to your family if you have room in your house or apartment. Plus, they’re smart, so they’re even better pets!
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.