What Do Macaws Eat: In Captivity VS In the Wild

If you want to get a parrot, an important thing to do is to research their diet. Whether you will be able to support it or not will determine your future actions. If you consider such a massive bird of Macaw type, food will become a major player in how well you can support the parrot. 

Macaws, like many parrots, are omnivores and will eat whatever you give them. However, that doesn’t mean that you can feed them with anything and everything. It just means that you have a wide range of foods to choose from. Ideally, you want to offer them the exact products they eat in the wild. But some differences are expected. 

In this article, let’s discuss what parrots can eat in captivity compared to the usual things they eat in the wild. And you can make an informed decision on what types of foods to choose for your Macaw. 

What Do Macaws Eat In Captivity?

Here are the things that vets usually recommend to include in Macaw diets at home. They are highly popular among parrot pet owners worldwide. 

Remember that this is a general list of the products that are recommended for a healthy balanced diet. Many of them can be substituted with other products if your Macaw doesn’t eat something. Parrots do have their preferences as well, after all! 

Note: most of these positions can be found in parrot pellets and different mixes. Be sure to read the ingredients list not to go overboard with certain additional foods!

Nuts 

what do parrots eat

I want to cover this subject first as, in my experience with parrots, this is the favorite treat of all types! Macaw included. They seem to be particularly tasty for the birds. 

Vets also point to the importance of nuts in a parrot’s diet, especially as an essential source of protein. However, you should also remember that nuts are relatively high in calories. Thus, you need to limit the portions and their frequencies. 

This section is full of varieties: 

  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews 
  • pistachios
  • peanuts
  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • hazelnuts
  • pecans 

All these nuts are popular among parrots. A vital tip is to check for any additives when buying them from regular stores. Avoid salts and other seasonings. As well as preservatives! More detailed information about each particular kind of nut can be found in my previous articles! 

Seeds 

what do parrots eat

This is yet another vital ingredient for Macaws. They constitute a fair share of the whole diet, probably as much as nuts. 

Personally, I find seeds to be a bit lacking as a category in terms of diversity. 

Among the popular options are: 

  • buckwheat 
  • oats
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • millets

While I see all Macaws eagerly eat sunflower and pumpkin seeds when it comes to rest. Some parrots are a bit picky. 

Generally, seeds play a similar role to nuts – they are full of protein (and other beneficial nutrients) but are also high in calories. Obese parrots require extra attention. 

But they are still a healthy option overall. 

Vegetables 

what do parrots eat

This is a significant category when it comes to Macaws in captivity. And I find it the most exciting considering the vast variety of foods safe for birds. There are a few vegetables not best suited for Macaws, even less dangerous ones, though. Make sure to read about each product separately. 

Vegetables are an endless source of vitamins and other elements. When they are served fresh and locally grown, parrots get the most beneficial nutrients out of them. Just like vegetables are essential for humans, parrots cannot live a long and healthy life without them as well. 

Among the must-eat veggies, I’d like to point out: 

  • broccoli 
  • pumpkin 
  • cauliflower
  • kale
  • green beans
  • bell peppers
  • carrots 
  • zucchini 
  • sweet potato

Well, I could go on and go on for a long time on what veggies are useful for birds. Almost all are! Instead, I encourage you to try many different kinds and see what your parrot likes more. Plus, Macaws like diversity in the taste palette! So, they’ll like your experiments. 

Fruit 

what do parrots eat

We usually have lots of fruit at home and are eager to share them with our pets. But you should take more caution with fruit compared to vegetables. After all, these foods are rather sugary, which is useful only in moderation. 

But, hey, there are lots of beneficial vitamins in fruit. You don’t want to miss out on that. As with vegetables, you’ll have to check the safety of each fruit separately and learn which parts of it may not be advisable. 

Among the fruit I prefer to give Macaws are: 

  • cherries 
  • apples (be mindful of seeds) 
  • bananas
  • grapes
  • papayas
  • coconuts 
  • pineapples
  • oranges
  • plums 
  • pomegranates 

You can also experiment with other types and see what your parrot likes best. 

Eggs

what do parrots eat

Yes, this is not what you normally think of when buying parrot food. However, Macaws are omnivores and would gladly eat eggs as well. It depends solely on the owners.

Moreover, a Macaw would gladly eat both raw eggs and lightly scrambled ones! You can even leave the eggshell! It’ll only bring more iron, carotenoids, lutein, and other ingredients so important for a bird’s health! Of course, your parrot may just not have a liking towards eggs and refuse to eat them. Such things happen. 

Also, if you decide to cook the eggs a bit, I suggest a high-quality pan to avoid adding oil. But, of course, no seasoning as well! 

Fish and Poultry 

what do parrots eat

These two foods are even less common among parrot owners! But Macaws will eat them if you allow. Fish is best served steamed or boiled with no grease or deep-fried stuff.

Overall, fish is a rich source of Omega 3! You probably take the supplements yourself. 

Unfortunately, parrots are fans of fish oil, and you have to search for natural products to provide the element. And cooked fish is your best bet to boost Macaw’s immunity.  

Opt for the traditional fish types that are most popular among humans! Nothing super exotic like Robin Fish, Itoyori, Fugu, or something like that. 

As for the poultry, No, that’s not “cannibalism.” Parrots can and do eat chicken just like humans. You should opt for chicken breast as it’s not as fatty and mostly boils or steams it. In general, both fish and chicken are incredible sources of proteins. You can easily fill the daily norm by combining nuts, seeds, and these two “meats.”

Pellets

what do parrots eat

Though this is the last point in my home Macaw food menu, this is not the least important one whatsoever. I’ve just decided to leave it till the end because it basically gathers the above-mentioned foods into one mix to accompany the nutrient-rich pellets. Most brands create balanced bags of pellets plus other dry foods for various occasions. 

Though you can find parrot pellets on their own at pet markets, the commercial packs contain a bit of everything to provide aaaallll the nutrients. 

If you don’t know what pellet mixes to choose from, you can check the article – Best Parrot Pellets of 2021

What Do Macaws Eat in the Wild? 

what do parrots eat

Now, to compare the offered diet to the natural one, we’ll have to take a look at the Macaw that have never been in captivity. You should note that the bird you get is bred in captivity as well, and not as the first generation. So, you’ll notice that these two relatives can have different instincts and preferences. 

First of all, let me state the obvious huge parrot of the wild Macaws diets:

  1. Everything that they eat in captivity. This is an obvious one I should suspect. People don’t take the ingredients from their imagination and give them to birds outside of their regular diet. Yes, a home Macaw can eat some fruit or veggies that their relatives don’t have in the wild in a particular region. But that is one general food category acceptable for birds. A bit of experimentation goes a long way. There is one slight difference in meat preference, though! 
  2. Insects. Yep, wild parrots prefer insects to poultry and fish simply for their hunting ease. Parrots live in the trees full of an efficient food source! Thus, wild Macaws mostly get their protein from insects. Wild parrots thrive on them! Small and bigger ones alike. 
  3. Flowers. This is a significant part of a wild Macaws diet that is absent among house pets. People rarely think about giving their parrot bouquet! Simply for gastronomical reasons. We have a wide variety of greens available instead and prefer to share them with pets instead of learning what new foods to bring home. In the wild, parrots like aster, carnations, chrysanthemum, daisies, gardenias, gladiolus, hibiscus, honeysuckle, lilac, magnolias, petunias, roses, sunflowers, violets, etc. You can try introducing them to your pet as well. Just be sure to pick them in a clean place outside of the city or in a personal garden. 

As you see, Macaws who live in captivity have a very similar diet to their wild relatives. Veterinarians base their suggestions on the original diet and products already familiar to the digestive system of their ancestors. If you want to diversify your pet’s diet, you can take a few tips from the wild Macaws. But always be sure to check with your vet beforehand for an expert opinion.

In short, when you want to introduce new foods, always check with experts first!