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Hahn’s Macaw - Red Shouldered Macaw

The Hahn’s Macaw (Diopsittaca nobilis) is properly known as the Red Shouldered Macaw and is one of the smallest members of the Neotropical Macaw branch of the parrot family.  It lives in tropical lowlands, swamps and savannah in Venezuela, Bolivia, the Guianas, Brazil and southeastern Peru.  The Hahn’s is technically a subspecies along with the Noble Macaw, but Hahn’s is the term most commonly encountered in captive bred birds.

These parrots are generally around 30cm in length and weigh 165gm with the typical long narrow tail and large head seen in larger macaws.  Their lifespan is around 30-40 years.

The body feathers are bright green with dark or slate blue feathers above the beak.  Wings are bright green above and olive green below with the edges and shoulders being red.  They have orange eyes and white skin around the eyes, which is featherless.  The only difference between the subspecies is that the Hahn’s has a black upper mandible and the Noble has a horn colours mandible.

Health wise, they are susceptible to the normal issues that can affect any parrot such as feather plucking and behavioural problems due to environment and/or diet.  They can also be susceptible to papilloma, proventricular dilation disease (PDD), polyomavirus, psittacosis and vitamin A sensitivity.  With any pet, if you have the slightly inclination that they may be unwell, seek veterinary advice.

Keeping Hahn’s

These are probably the best of the macaws to keep as pets in houses due to their small size and reduced amount of noise.  This is not to say they aren’t noisy, all parrots are, but comparatively less than their larger cousins.  They do have a piercing call when separated from their flock, be it a bird one or a human one, so it is best to situate their cage somewhere that they see everyone and feel safe.

As hand-reared pets, they can be quite a dominating personality so if they haven’t been trained right from a young age, can be a problem.  They need to be taught commands such as Step Up and learn to understand what the human wants from them to avoid problems.  As young birds, they also need plenty of time to fly and build up wing strength; otherwise, this can lead to feather plucking and other behavioural problems later in life.  The other problem with hand-reared pets is if you ever want to breed them, they have little concept that they are a bird and often will not breed.

Another option is to hand-tame a Hahn’s which involves removing the chick from the parents at an age of around four week.  This means the bird will be less noisy and demanding of humans but also will have less natural fear.  With patience and work, these birds can be tamed to come to the hand with no fright and enjoy fuss and attention.

Temperament-wise, macaws are very easy going.  They are sociable and intelligent and learn quickly.  They bond closely with their owners and can learn some mimicking.  Like all parrot species, if they live in a cage, it should be as large as possible.  They will also need plenty of time out of the cage socialising with the family.

Cage selection is important with these birds as a larger one is always better but remember their own size means they can fit through bars designed for larger birds.  At least three feet square is the minimum recommended size and ones which have bars that are zinc free and resistant to rust is also important as parrots love to chew.

Breeders have remarked that they often go through a nippy stage when they are young but this can be combatted with plenty of chewable toys and varieties of perches for them to chew.  They also like to hide when sleeping so cosy huts or similar bird tents can be offered.

When they are first introduced to their new cage, they may go through a stage of defending their territory against all-comers, including you.  It is advisable to use a step-up stick instead of your hand to remove them from the cage and let them settle down.  This stage usually only lasts 3-4 weeks until the bird realises that no-one is going to take his territory away from him and he doesn’t have to share it with strangers.  Always remember these are intelligent birds and you can, in a sense, reason with them through behaviour to learn them something new.

Hahn’s are typically little big birds – they have no idea they are small.  They will approach and confront larger birds and animal fearlessly and this can include children, so best to keep a little distance as their beak is quite sharp. 

Feeding

Dietary requirements for Hahn’s are quite simple.  A quality parrot mixture is the basis with pellets supplemented by fresh food.  They will enjoy vegetables, cooked maize, green beans, corn as well as fruits and berries.  When a bird is rearing chicks, sprinkle some calcium supplement on the vegetables to help her.  Sprouted sunflower seed is a great treat.

Breeding

The simplicity in breeding these birds in captivity has seen a significant increase in the numbers kept in this country.  It will breed in a colony system but once the colony is established, members cannot be added afterwards.  Birds bred in the colony will be accepted but an outsider introduced will likely be attacked.

Hahn’s typically breed in the warmer summer months so cages should be protected from the sun and with plenty of air flow to avoid chicks getting too hot.

These macaws nest in a hole in a tree and produce 3-4 eggs.  They are incubated by the female for around 24-26 days and the chicks fledge at around 54 days.

Conclusion

These are bustling, busy little characters who make wonderful pets and have a few potential issues but less than a larger bird.  Size needed to live happily is the first thing which means they can be considered by houses which simply aren’t big enough to accommodate a blue and gold or scarlet macaw.  Therefore, these are popular pets as well as great aviary birds.

 


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