First of all - these birds are in danger of extinction and any suitable bird should best be placed into a well-managed breeding program to ensure that future generations will get to enjoy these amazing creatures.
This being said, some birds are not suitable for breeding programs and being placed as pets allows them to hopefully enjoy a carefree existence with an owner who will adequately provide for them and ensure both their physical (food and housing) as well as psychological needs (entertainment and companionship) are being met.
Illigers are easier to keep than larger macaws because of their small size. Pet owners enjoy them for their intelligence and clowny personality.
Like many parrots, they are very inquisitive and have to investigate everything they see. They are heavy chewers and they are not particularly choosy about what they chew -- your furniture, electric wiring - anything is fair game.
For this reason, training is very important, as well as understanding that your home needs to be bird-proofed. Electric wiring needs to be hidden or protected (as even trained parrots occasionally "forget their manners" and you need to protect them from getting hurt, as well protect your home from electric fires caused by damaged cables). Aside from this habit and their harsh macaw calls, they make sweet and friendly pets.
Hand-raised Illigers are usually quite tame and very social. They usually get along very well with other birds. A lone Illiger is quite a sorry sight for those who understand its social personality. It is best not to keep them singly to avoid depression and loneliness. Ideally they should be kept in a multi-bird household, or they should be kept in pairs. They enjoy a constant companion and playful friend. If you don't want to get into breeding, get a couple of birds of the same sex (make sure they have been reliably sexed, either DNA or surgically). DNA sexing is pretty inexpensive and easy to do.
If you do have true male / female combination, you are likely to end up with chicks, and since Illiger's Macaws have become so endangered, captive breeding is encouraged, provided one is capable of meeting the requirements and demands of such endeavors.
They are very capable flyers and outside the confines of a cage, you might watch their soaring, diving and dropping.
To prevent boredom it is important that they be given plenty of toys to play with and chew. Wooden chew toys are usually a hit with this species as this will satisfy their need to chew. You have to understand that in the wild, they spend a good time of the day chewing on branches, as a way of "customizing" their environment or they may chew on a tree trunk hole to make it a suitable nesting site.
These parrots are usually considered medium-noisy. They sentinel / alarm call is quite shrill and loud. They enthusiastically greet their owners and visitors with a raucous croak.
They reach sexual maturity at 2 to 4 years and can live up to 50 to 60 years.
Diet / Feeding
Their diet should include a variety of seeds, nuts, green foods, fruits and vegetables. I
Like all parrots, they pick up food in their claws and eat it from there. Captive birds are quite finicky and have a reputation of will not eat food they are bored with.
- Info on macaw nutrition
Calls / Vocalizations / Sounds
These parrots can be very noisy ... especially in the early mornings or late afternoons / evenings.
If you are considering one of these magnificent parrots as pets, please visit the following websites for information:
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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