Harlequin Macaws

This hybrid bird is one of the bigger and louder parrots

Harlequin Macaw feathers
Harlequin Macaw feathers. WIN-Initiative / Getty Images

Harlequin Macaws are only produced in captivity, by crossing a Blue and Gold Macaw with a Greenwing Macaw

People who own hybrid birds like the Harlequin Macaw claim to have the "best of both worlds." Both parents required to produce a Harlequin -- a Blue and Gold Macaw and a Greenwing Macaw -- are known for having laid-back and affectionate personalities.

While a Harlequin Macaw will have moments of frustration like any parrot, it is a good choice for those who would like a large bird with an even temper and calm demeanor.

But this is not a bird for everyone because it does pose some unique challenges for an owner.

Harlequin Macaw Facts and Figures

Harlequin Macaws are large birds typically reaching lengths of between 35 and 40 inches from the beak to the tip of the tail feathers. Barring any serious health problems, they're exceptionally long-lived even for parrots, with an average lifespan of more than 50 years. 

Colors of the Harlequin Macaw

Harlequin Macaws can have a wide variation in their colors and patterns. Some breeders say that a Harlequin's coloring depends largely on whether a Blue and Gold or a Greenwing was the male parent, but that is debatable.

Most Harlequins are primarily deep orange on their chests and bellies, with striking tones of green and blue on their backs. Many of them have gold feathers on the underside of their tail feathers. 

Feeding and Exercise for a Harlequin Macaw

Like any large parrot, a Harlequin Macaw should be fed a diet that includes a high-quality seed and pellet mix, along with fresh bird-safe fruits and vegetables.

 

Also like other large parrots, Harlequin Macaws need plenty of exercise in order to maintain top mental and physical condition. Prepare to set aside a minimum of 2 to 4 hours per day for the bird to play outside of its cage. In addition to preventing weight gain, adequate exercise helps stave off boredom.

With a bird this large, you don't want it to get restless and resort to chewing on furniture or engage in other destructive behaviors. Keep your Harlequin Macaw occupied by handling it daily and providing it with plenty of toys to play with.

Harlequin Macaws also need plenty of human interaction and mental stimulation to remain healthy, happy, and well-adjusted pets. They thrive on being part of a flock, so even though it might take some getting used to, it's a good idea to try to include your bird in as many family activities as possible.

Personality of the Harlequin Macaw

All parrots have a tendency to be loud, but Macaws are the poster-birds for ear-shattering vocalizations. Simply put, if you don't want your parrot to awaken you early every morning by screaming at the top of its lungs, you should consider something other than a Macaw as a pet. On the upside, you'll never miss an early morning flight if you have one of these birds as an alarm clock. 

Harlequin Macaws as Pets

Before rushing out to buy a Harlequin Macaw, think seriously about the commitment involved in keeping such a bird. Not only can these birds live for five decades or more, but the costs of veterinary bills, high-quality feed, toys, and cages add up quickly.

If you feel that you wouldn't be able to provide a bird with the best of everything, consider holding off on adopting one until you can.