Severe Macaw

A beautiful parrot that'S a natural talker

Chestnut-fronted macaw
Glenn Bartley / Getty Images

Eye-catching and charmingly easy-going, severe macaws have become popular birds to keep as pets. The largest of the mini macaws, these birds pack a lot of personality into a smaller, easier-to-care-for package. They are also among the best talkers and enjoy their family time.

Breed Overview

Common Names: Severe macaw, chestnut-fronted macaw, Brazilian green macaw

Scientific Name: Ara severa severa

Adult Size: 15 to 20 inches, weighing just under 1 pound

Life Expectancy: Can be expected to live for up to 30 years, some even longer

Origin and History

The severe macaw is native to southern Central America and northern South America. It's particularly well-known in Panama and Bolivia. There are also populations in Brazil, where the bird is commonly known as the Brazilian green macaw. This species has been introduced to Florida as well.

In the wild, the severe macaw enjoys forests and habitats of all kinds as long as trees are available. They generally prefer areas that are subject to river flooding. It can be difficult to find them because they enjoy roosting in cavities high up in the trees.

Farm fields offer plenty of food for these birds beyond their natural diet. It's not uncommon to find large, very loud flocks foraging the fields early in the morning. For this reason, they're often seen as a nuisance by farmers.

Severe macaws can also be seen regularly at clay licks with a variety of other birds. These clay hills are popular spots for many parrots. It's thought that the clay supplements their diet, protecting against toxins in their food and providing essential minerals.


It's good to note that severe macaws have not been bred in captivity for as long as other parrots. This means that many of their natural instincts are still intact because they have not been fully domesticated. When socialized as a young bird, they become ideal pets.

Friendly and comical, the severe macaw's large personality makes it a favorite among bird lovers. With adequate socialization, severe macaws bond quickly with their owners, responding well to training and boasting impressive speech abilities.

They are one of the best talking parrots, though not every bird will take to it. Many severes can speak with surprising clarity and their high-pitched voice is quite fun to listen to. They can also develop a rather large vocabulary.

These vocalizations are great, but they can become too much for some owners and their neighbors. They are a very loud bird for their size and are known to call out in the morning and again at noon and sunset. As a pet, it's best to ignore unwanted screams rather than scold the bird. They're smart enough to eventually learn right from wrong.

Severe macaws are also quite inquisitive and curious. They love puzzles and games and can become enamored by shiny things. You'll quickly find that your jewelry is best kept out of the bird's sight or it may be unintentionally damaged.

One unique characteristic with the severe is that they generally don't like a lot of touching. Quite often, they're more content to be near their owner or on their shoulder, but cuddling and petting are not their strong suit.

This may come from their somewhat aggressive behavior in the wild, which led to their "severe" name. In captivity, this is generally not an issue, but don't be offended if your bird is a bit stand-offish at times.

Colors and Markings

Severe macaws are mostly a shimmery green with dark, chestnut-colored patches on their foreheads and under their beaks. The crown of their head boasts a patch of iridescent blue feathers, and they bear distinctive red patches on the edges of their wings. The tail feathers are blue with red undersides, which shimmer when they're in flight.

This species exhibits the classic bare macaw facial patch. They also have fine, dark feather lines circling the eyes, which is unique among macaws.

The bird's beak and feet are grey and the iris of their eyes is a beautiful yellow-gold. It's a monomorphic bird, so the males and females are identical.


While severe macaws are known to be very social, all parrots require a certain amount of training to ensure that the bird remains tame. If you want to adopt a severe macaw, the first thing you should do is make sure that you have enough time to spend with your pet each day.

Without socialization and adequate mental stimulation, severe macaws can grow bored and depressed. This can lead to destructive behavior and stress-related illness.

Severe macaws can be fun pets, but they require time and specialized care that not everyone can provide. They actually 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.

Make sure that you are prepared before bringing a severe macaw or any other parrot into your home. You will want to think about the costs of owning such a pet as well. Things like veterinary bills, the costs of high-quality feed, and the prices of cages and toys add up quickly.

For such a small bird, you'll find that a larger cage will do them quite well. These birds need lots of room and are used to long flights in the wild, so it's best to go bigger than you think he'll need.


Like any other pet bird, severe macaws must have adequate nutrition to thrive. Feed your severe macaw a varied diet consisting of high-quality seed and pellet mix. The bird will also benefit daily offerings of fresh bird-safe fruits and vegetables to ensure you're meeting its dietary requirements.


Severe macaws might be mini macaws but they are still built for muscle power. In the wild, a severe macaw might fly several hundred miles a day looking for food. Because of this, it's important to provide enough exercise for your pet to maintain a healthy body.

Pet severe macaws should be allowed a minimum of two to four hours playtime outside of their cage each day. This will allow the bird to stretch its muscles and exercise its wings and beak.

You should also provide your bird with plenty of toys. They're quite intelligent and will thoroughly enjoy any puzzles or games you can give him. To keep your bird stimulated, rotate toys out often so he always feels like there is something new to play with.