When people think of macaws, they might picture the brightly colored scarlet variety, the blue and gold version, or even the hyacinth macaw seen in the movie “Rio.” The fact is, there are 18 species that fall under the macaw umbrella, ranging in size from just under 12 inches to almost 40. Regardless of the variation, these majestic birds are native to tropical areas in Central and South America. They roost in groups in the wild, feeding on seeds, nuts, fruits, leaves, and flowers.
Maybe you’ve been thinking of adding a macaw to your family. Well, you wouldn’t be alone. Macaws are one of the most popular parrot pets in the avian world. While a macaw will undoubtedly add personality, entertainment, and interest to your every day, before considering the parrot as a pet, you should know exactly how much they cost. Beyond the initial price tag on the bird alone — which can be substantial — many forget to consider the costs of housing, maintaining, feeding, and vet bills for their new feathered friend. But it’s best to go into the venture with your eyes open. Read on to find out how much a macaw would actually cost initially and over the long haul.
How Much Does a Macaw Cost?
The cost of the macaw itself depends on what type of bird you want to purchase, whether you adopt one or go to a breeder, and your location. The truth is, large parrots are a lot of work, and some people can’t handle the responsibility, so they could offer their birds up for free. However, use caution in this instance because the macaw could be unhealthy or have other behavioral problems. Beyond finding a macaw for free — which is rare — you could adopt one surrendered by its owner. That can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000. Those birds can be found in the paper, online marketplaces, or even in your local pet store.
You might think the next logical place to look for a macaw would be popular pet store chains like Petco or PetSmart. Typically, those shops only carry smaller birds — for good reason. It takes a lot of space to house a macaw, and most retailers simply don’t have the room or the staff to care for bigger birds properly. In fact, through all my years of frequenting pet stores in general, I’ve only once seen a large parrot available for sale, and that was a cockatoo. If your area carries a macaw, the price will be well over $1,000, as a quick search on PetSmart shows the company’s biggest available pet bird — a “fancy conure” — runs $900, and that species isn’t very large at all.
However, don’t lose hope if you want to buy a macaw! There are breeders who offer the species either in person or online. Good breeders spend a lot of time hatching and raising parrots properly so that they make good pets for humans. If you go this route, be sure the breeder has a strong reputation, and they hand raise their animals. Depending on the species, buying a macaw from a breeder will likely cost between $1,000 and $5,000+.
Here are some places you could look online for a macaw.
Another option would be to contact a local breeder. Check with pet stores in your area to see if they will share some names with you. If you choose someone local, you may be able to bond with your macaw before taking them home. You’ll also get an idea of their personality, meet the breeder, and will be able to look at the facility overall.
How Much Does a Macaw Setup Cost?
Before you even choose your macaw, it’s important to think about the costs of your setup. After all, your feathered friend will need a place to live, toys, food, perches, and bowls. Also, you might want to have some first aid supplies on hand in case of injury. Let’s break down those costs one by one.
How much is a macaw cage?
The size of the cage you buy for your macaw will depend on the species you plan to buy. For example, if you plan to purchase a mini macaw, your pet’s cage should be at least two feet wide, three feet deep, and four feet tall. Larger varieties will need a cage at least three feet wide, four feet deep, and five feet tall. The cage should be made of steel or wrought iron, and the bars should be between .75-inches and 1.5 inches apart.
A cage will likely cost a minimum of $100 and could run up to $900 or more. The more expensive cages could have features like a play area on top, multiple access areas, a lock on the door, easy feeding areas, and easy-cleaning trays at the bottom. The important thing to remember is that you want your macaw to have enough room to move around, climb, and play, while also leaving enough space for them to eat and rest without letting their tail touch the outside or bottom of the cage.
While macaws are very social and will want to spend lots of time interacting with you outside their cage, they will spend a good amount of time in there, so you want it to be as roomy and comfortable as possible.
Other macaw accessories and how much they cost
Now, it’s time to fill your macaw’s cage. They will need perches, toys, and food and water dishes. You’ll also need to have food, treats, cage liners, first aid supplies, and a play area. Here are the average prices of these items to get you started.
- 5-pounds of bird seed: $20 to $40
- 3.5-pound bag of bird pellets: $24 to $30
- Fresh fruits and vegetables: varies by season and location
- Food and water bowls: $10 to $16
- Cage liners: $35 to $60 for 100 pre-cut sheets
- Cage cleaner: $10 to $35
- Toys: $17 to $30 each
- Perches: $30 to $60 each
- First aid: $15 to $28 for BleedStop
- Treats: $8 to $12
- Play area outside cage: $30 to $70+
The initial setup for your macaw’s accessories will be between $325 to $600 and up.
Monthly Expenses of a Macaw
After the initial setup, to get you an idea of how much it would cost to simply bring your new pet home, you want to think about how much it will cost to take care of your macaw every month. Please note: This type of parrot can live for 60 to 80 years, so you’re taking on a lifelong commitment by adding them to your family.
Here is an estimate of how much you can expect to spend monthly on your macaw, so you can budget accordingly.
- Food: $50 to $100
- Toy replacement/rotation: $20 to $50
- Cage maintenance: $10 to $50
- Vet bills: $50 to $400 depending on health issues and location
- Grooming: $5 to $50 (more if you have your vet assist)
Keep in mind that other expenses can pop up, too — like emergencies. Those can run you a minimum of $250 at the emergency vet and could soar up into the thousands, depending on the problem. Also, think about vacations. It will likely cost hundreds for a qualified sitter. You might even want to seek out a facility specializing in birds to ensure they get proper care while you’re gone. The cost of doing so will vary but will likely also be in the hundreds — at minimum.
In fact, before purchasing a macaw, look into the veterinarians in your area to ensure there are experts close by to help keep your new avian pet healthy. Not all vets have the knowledge or equipment to take care of birds.
The monthly cost for your macaw will likely be between $135 to $650 or more.
Budget for Your Macaw
As you can see, owning a macaw isn’t cheap, but it’s important to go into this new venture with your eyes wide open. Your initial cost for your new feathered friend will likely be a few thousand dollars, with ongoing maintenance costs of a few hundred every month — not including vacations or emergencies.
Building these costs into your budget will ensure there are no surprises and give you peace of mind knowing you have money set aside to take proper care of your pet. While macaws may not be inexpensive, they can be a wonderful, loving, and entertaining addition to your family.
Kim is an avid bird watcher and owner in South Carolina. She loves identifying, studying, and feeding her feathered friends in their natural habitats. She also has first-hand experience as the owner of several species of exotic birds.