Hahn's Macaw (Red-Shouldered Macaw): Bird Species Profile

Temperament, Diet, and Care Tips

Hahn's Macaw

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Hahn's macaws are the smallest and the most popular among the miniature macaws. These compact and playful parrots make excellent pets that form solid bonds with their owners. Capable of learning many tricks and behaviors, they can become good talkers with practice. This species is an excellent option for a bird lover who wants a macaw but does not have enough space for one of the big guys.

Species Overview

Common Names: Hahn's macaw, red-shouldered macaw

Scientific Name: Diopsittaca nobilis nobilis (formerly Ara nobilis nobilis)

Adult Size: 12 inches, 5 ounces

Life Expectancy: 20 to 30 years

Origin and History

The Hahn's macaw is one of two varieties of red-shouldered macaws. The noble macaw (Ara nobilis cumanensis) is the other, and both are native to northern South America. The Hahn's subspecies is named for German zoologist Carl-Wilhelm Hahn, who cataloged birds from the New World with depictions and descriptions.

In the wild, they live in Bolivia, Brazil, the Guianas, Peru, and Venezuela. They're most likely to be found in the tropical lowlands, though these parrots also enjoy the savannas and swamplands. Hahn's macaws tend to form small flocks in their natural habitat. This macaw's green feathers blend perfectly into the bright foliage of these areas.

Temperament

Intelligent and charming, Hahn's macaws are popular pets. Be aware, however, that while they may be small, they pack all the personality of a larger parrot into their compact body. Expect many fun-filled hours watching their spirited antics.

Their compact size makes them suitable for bird lovers who live in smaller spaces or anyone with children. However, these birds are not suited for apartment living; they can be quite noisy when they feel like it.

Overall, the Hahn's macaw tends to be a very gentle bird. If you adopt a young bird, it may nip a bit, but they usually grow out of that habit. They will also calm down as they mature. When socialized, they can be sweet little birds that get along well with children as long as both parties interact appropriately with one another.

Speech and Vocalizations

Hahn's macaws can be excellent talkers. With training, males and females can learn many words and phrases usually in a high-pitch but clear voice. But like the bigger macaws, Hahn's macaws are screamers. And, if you get a pair of Hahn's macaws, the noise will be twice as loud. Expect that this bird will assume the role of your morning alarm clock at sunrise.

Hahn's Macaw Colors and Markings

Mature Hahn's macaws are primarily green with a darker greenish-blue cap of feathers on their foreheads. They have a spot of bright red on the undersides of their wings, which explains their "red-shouldered macaw" nickname.

This bird's beak is black with a beige to white color in the upper beak. Their eyes are a burnt orange color, framed by the macaw's classic white eye-rings.

Hahn's macaws have black feet that seem to be oversized for their small body, though they are quite agile. To accommodate climbing and the handling of food and other objects, two of their toes point forward while two toes point toward the back. You can't tell males and females apart by looking at them. For accurate sexing, this species requires genetic testing or surgical sexing.

These macaws are sometimes mistaken for noble macaws. The Hahn's macaw is smaller, and the noble macaw's beak is entirely beige. If you are familiar with sun conures, Hahn's macaws are about the same size.

Caring for the Hahn's Macaw

Like their larger macaws cousins, Hahn's macaws have the same social, dietary, and exercise requirements. If you think that a Hahn's macaw is for you, make sure you have plenty of time to devote to training and bonding with your bird. A bored or neglected Hahn's macaw can become angry, destructive, or depressed. If you do not spend time with your bird, plan for bird bites, damaged property, and getting frustrated with your bird.

Birds left alone for long periods are prone to self-mutilation or feather plucking, which can snowball into more severe health problems.

Hahn's macaws do not require a very large cage like other macaws, however, they do need ample space. Expect to get a cage that is 3-feet tall, long, and wide.

Prices for veterinary bills, quality feed, toys, and cages add up quickly. If you can't give your bird the best of everything, consider holding off on getting one until you can. Or, choose a pet that might be low-maintenance.

Common Health Problems

Like other macaws, Hahn’s macaws are prone to self-mutilation/feather plucking, overgrown beaks, nutritional disorders, proventricular dilatation disease (a digestive disorder, also called macaw wasting syndrome), and psittacosis (a common avian bacterial infection).

Diet and Nutrition

These birds spend most of their mornings foraging for food, including berries, fruits, flower buds, nuts, seeds, and, occasionally, insects. You can sometimes find them on clay cliffs. The clay is a dietary supplement that helps remove any toxins they may pick up from their usual food sources.

In captivity, Hahn's macaws eat a high-quality pellet and seed mix. This staple is in addition to daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, which make mealtime a fun spectacle to watch. Macaws, depending on their size, will eat about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of parrot mix and about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of fruit and vegetables per day. Provide fresh drinking water every day.

These parrots will be delighted with dark greens like kale and spinach as well as broccoli, carrots, squash, and even some chili peppers. For fruits, consider staples like apples, peaches, oranges, and pineapple. Many Hahn's also like bananas and figs. Just be sure to clean up any fruit leftovers to keep the cage clean and free of ants or mold.

Some parrots can become picky eaters, but you can diversify their diet by introducing new foods slowly. Do not feed these birds avocados, chocolate, or alcoholic beverages as they can be toxic.

Exercise

Like all parrots, wild Hahn's macaws fly for long distances every day. In captivity, a Hahn's macaw also needs an adequate amount of time out of the cage to play, exercise, and stretch its muscles. Provide your parrot with at least two hours of supervised out-of-cage playtime a day.

Social and intelligent, Hahn's macaws respond quickly to training which gives birds mental stimulation and keeps them from getting bored. You will have a lot of fun teaching these little birds tricks. Introduce new tasks throughout their lives to keep them mentally engaged.

With these parrots, it's best to ignore unwanted behavior—including excessive noise. Scolding has the opposite effect; it shows the bird that loud, stern squawking is an acceptable form of communication. Your best approach is positive reinforcement. Reward good behavior and quiet moments, and your little bird will start to understand what is acceptable behavior. They aim to please their keepers and handlers.

Pros
  • Social, friendly, can get along with children

  • Intelligent, can learn to talk and do tricks

  • Smaller size, does not need a typical macaw cage

Cons
  • Can be noisy, not well-suited for apartments

  • Requires at least 2 hours of supervised out-of-cage time

  • Can be nippy as a young bird

Where to Adopt or Buy a Hahn's Macaw

Large pet stores rarely sell Hahn's macaws. You can likely find them at avian-specialty stores, bird breeders, as well as rescue and adoption organizations. The price ranges from $800 to $2,000. Some online sources where you can find Hahn's macaws include:

If you are going the breeder route, make sure that the breeder is reputable. Ask how long they have been breeding and tour their facility. Make sure that the bird you want to take home is alert, active, and exhibits all the signs of a healthy bird, such as bright eyes, clean feathers, and full crops.

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

If a Hahn's macaw sounds like a good fit, you may be interested in similar species, check out:

Otherwise, take a look at some other mini macaw species profiles.