So you fell in love with a colorful scarlet macaw and brought her home to join the family. As she hails from such exotic places as Guatemala, Costa Rica and Brazil, you might wonder about the natural eating habits of your vibrant housemate and how to feed her at home.
The Scarlet Macaw Food Pyramid
In her book on macaws, Julie Mancini invokes the well-known food pyramid from grade school to explain the dietary and nutritional needs of macaws. Mancini recommends building your scarlet macaw's nutritional pyramid on 50 percent grains, 45 percent dark-green and dark-orange fruits and vegetables, and five percent protein from meat, eggs and dairy, with occasional treats thrown in.
In the Wild
In the wild your scarlet macaw would feast on berries, leaves, seeds and nuts, her strong, hooked bill being custom-made to crack into the hard hulls and shells of favorite foods like Brazil nuts. According to Avianweb, breeding season brings a need for additional protein, which macaws get from insects and larvae. Wild macaws also enjoy nectar and are known to eat fruit from jocote trees, jabillo trees and licuri palm trees.
Feeding Domesticated Scarlet Macaws
You probably won't have access to most of the exotic foods a wild scarlet macaw eats daily, but you can provide food that is nutritious for your bird and that she is sure to appreciate. Parrot and Conure World recommends basing your scarlet macaw's diet on a quality pellet food that can be purchased at a pet supply store, relying on the pellets for 80 percent of her nutritional needs. The rest of her diet should be a variety of vegetables, rice, beans, fruit and occasional carbohydrate snacks like graham crackers or unsalted whole-wheat crackers. Julie Mancini recommends sprouted seeds as a supplemental treat. They will provide your scarlet macaw with a number of vitamins like A, B, C and E, and are a source of enzymes too.
Avianweb stresses the importance of variety in feeding your scarlet macaw. Her natural eating habits would drive her to seek an assortment of different tastes and textures if she were in the wild, so giving her a varied selection of food will keep her happy and healthy. A few foods your scarlet macaw is sure to enjoy as a supplement to her base diet include safflower and pumpkin seeds (in the shells), pine nuts, pecans and almonds. She'll also enjoy and reap the nutritional benefits from dried fruits and vegetables like whole corn, carrots, peaches, peas, cranberries and apricots.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.