Severe Macaw

Also known as the Chestnut-Fronted Macaw, the Severe Macaw is one of the largest ‘mini-macaws’. They live in South America, from Panama south into Amazonian Brazil and northern Bolivia.

The Severe Macaw’s conservation status is considered to be secure.

Severe Macaw
Photo by Clara H
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae
Subfamily Psittacinae
Genus Ara
Species A. severa
Noise level Loud
Skill level Intermediate
Size Medium
Price Expensive
Maintenance High
Talking Good


The Severe Macaw is one of the largest mini macaws at about 40-45 cm (16-18in) long, including the tail which is about half its length.

Both sexes are monomorphic, meaning they are identical in appearance. However, males may be heavier and larger than females, as well as seem slightly longer with broader shoulders.1 This however, is not a reliable way to sex Severes. A DNA test should be carried out to identify the gender.

Severes are mostly green in colour, with a blue crown, brown forehead band and chin. The flight feathers are blue and the tail has a red-dark chestnut underside. The carpal edges are red and the iris in sexually mature birds is orange.

Severe Macaws are the only mini-macaw to have feather lines on the bare patches on its face.

Immature birds have darker forehead bands, duller plumage, and a darker iris.

In the wild

Severes can be found over a wide area in open forests and surrounding woodlands and savannah. They can be seen foraging in farmland and villages.

In the wild, they nest in holes in trees.

As companion pets

The Severe Macaw is a lot like the large macaws when it comes to intelligence and its child-like personality. They play like conures.2

They are very social, playful, affectionate and generally enjoy being petted. They are quite vocal and like climbing and hanging upside down. Severe Macaws are quite smart and many owners have successfully toilet trained their bird.

Severes need suitable items for chewing on as they may be destructive if bored. They tend to also enjoy ropes to swing on. Don’t provide toys designed for small birds as these are not strong enough to handle a Severe’s beak. Like many birds, they love baths and showers.

If you want a Severe Macaw as a companion bird, it is best to acquire a handreared individual. If well socialised at a young age, Severes tend to quite sociable and not a one person bird, however they will have a favourite person.

As aviary birds

A perch at either end of the aviary is recommended for macaws. They also appreciate things to chew on.

If housed with other birds, they should be kept with birds of similar size and temperament. It is recommended that they are housed with their own species or other mini macaws.

Diet and health

Macaws have a higher fat requirement compared to other species of parrots. High level of fat (usually in the form of nuts) should also be accompanied with an adequate level of dietary protein if the fat is to be metabolised properly.3

A good Severe Macaw diet consists of seed, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and commercial parrot pellets.

Their lifespan is listed from anywhere between 30 to 80 years old, but it is generally considered to be 40 years.


When paired properly, Severe Macaws can be prolific breeders. They reach sexual maturity at 3-4 years. The best breeding years are in the 5th year and onwards.

The clutch usually consists of two or three white eggs which incubate for about 26-28 days. The chicks fledge from the nest about 12-17 weeks after hatching. The hen incubates the eggs.
Severe Macaws usually prefer deep, vertical nestboxes over horizontal ones. The nestbox should have a good ladder inside for the birds to climb in and out.

Good placement for the nestbox is at the rear of the aviary (or opposite the feeding area), as high as possible with adequate perches at immediate vicinity of the nestbox.4

If they have a large clutch, the smallest or youngest chick may be ignored once they grow and compete for food. Birds not being fed may need to be removed for handrearing or handrearing could be supplemented in the nest box.


There are no established mutations.

However, a colour has come up in one female individual, labeled as ‘red pied’. The bird has not reproduced yet.5


See also

Hahn's Macaw
Noble's Macaw
Illiger's Macaw
Yellow Collared Macaw
Red-Bellied Macaw
Blue-Headed Macaw

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