Catalina Macaw Facts | Is This Hybrid Parrot Right for You?

When looking for the perfect bird, most seek a companion that is smart, loving, and easy to train. Being gorgeous doesn’t hurt either.

For many, catalina macaws fit the bill perfectly.

Often mistaken for the harlequin macaw due to their similar coloring, catalinas are known to be jovial, social, and full of energy, but should this parrot be your next pet?

Are catalina macaws good pets? Catalina macaws, if raised and cared for properly, make excellent pets for an experienced owner. When socialized correctly from a young age, given adequate exercise, and showered with attention, this hybrid is playful, comical, and a joy to own, though they can be temperamental at times.

Are you ready to find out if a catalina is right for you?

In the following, we’ll explore all aspects of this lovely hybrid macaw, and by the time you finish reading, you’ll know whether or not this colorful bird is a good fit for your home.

Catalina Macaw Facts

It’s always a good idea to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before welcoming any new animal into your home.

In the following, we’ll take a close look at the beautiful catalina macaw and what you can expect should you decide that this parrot is right for you.

What Is a Catalina Macaw?

Catalina macaws, also known as the rainbow macaw, are multicolored, hybrid parrots that are highly desired for their genetic traits.

This genetic mixture is a combination of two of the most popular species, the blue-and-gold macaw and the scarlet macaw. 

Catalinas are also considered to be first generation macaw hybrids since their species is derived from two “naturally occurring” birds.

This particular breed of macaw is usually only found in captivity, since scarlet and blue-and-gold macaws rarely breed with each other in their natural habitats. 

In genetics, when birds are bred in hybridization, the father’s genes are dominant.

When breeding catalinas, their coloring is usually similar to that of the scarlet macaw, since the fathers are usually scarlet. 

What Is a Double Catalina Macaw?

A double catalina macaw is a macaw whose parents are both catalina macaws. This makes the double catalina macaws second generation hybrids.

Double catalina macaws often look different than first generation catalinas because of the lack of dominant color genes from the scarlet macaw males.

Orange, green, and blue coloration is typically intensified while the scarlet red and reddish orange is mellowed.

Catalina Macaw Appearance & Size

Typically, the catalina macaw has an orange-red chest with a small black or dark green bib below the beak and green on top of the head extending down the back of the neck. 

Their wings down to their tail areas tend to be green and blue.

Like other macaws, the legs are gray, and the beak is black or black with white and gray markings.

These colors do vary based on the individual bird and which generation it is.

When it comes to measurements, catalina macaws are 30-35 inches long and can weigh between 2-3 pounds. Their wingspan ranges from 40-45 inches. 

Catalina Temperament & Personality

Like every animal, the catalina’s personality and temperament varies on the bird’s upbringing and even the bird itself.

Catalinas can either be quite affectionate or can be extremely cranky.

Due to their high maintenance, the way they are cared for can also play a major part in their temperament.

Catalinas do tend to be one-person birds, which means they usually bond to one person in particular.

They may even prefer a particular gender. For example, they may be close to a male owner and ignore any female that comes near them.  

Are Catalina Macaws Friendly?

Catalina Macaws, overall, can be quite friendly, which seems ideal to a bird owner searching for the perfect fit.

Being a crossbreed of the scarlet and blue-and-gold macaws, catalinas have been known to carry traits from both parents.

Often these birds have, like the scarlets, cheerful and energetic personalities, but they can also be obedient and timid, like the blue-and gold macaws. 

Catalina Macaws Intelligence & Trainability

Catalina macaws are very intelligent and affectionate birds who readily bond with their owners. They love attention and thrive on constant play and socialization.

In addition, they are easily trainable and have the capability to learn a multitude of tricks, such as “Stick ‘Em Up” and “Wave,” and dozens of words and phrases. 

When training your bird, it is important to use positive reinforcement. Never hit your bird or overstimulate them.

Each training session should range between 15 and 20 minutes and should be practiced at least once daily.

One way to know your bird is ready to play or train is when their pupils are small and “flashing.”

This indicates that something is exciting your bird, which usually puts them into a good, easy-going mood.

Lastly, it’s very important to realize that each bird is different, and some of them may take more time to train than others. 

Catalina Macaw Lifespan

If given proper care, catalina macaws can live anywhere between 50-60 years!

That’s why it’s important to be fully committed before deciding to purchase a macaw and to be responsible for the future, having a plan in place for your bird should something happen to you.

How Much Is a Catalina Macaw?

Pricing can vary greatly based on your chosen breeder and the age of the bird. The degree or lack of training can influence the price as well.

For catalina macaws, the cost can range anywhere between $3,000-$6,000. 

Fun Facts 

  • Some dislike the idea of crossbreeds due to macaws being on the brink of extinction.
  • The only macaw species that isn’t endangered is the blue-and-gold macaw. Dwindling numbers are due to many reasons, such as pet trade and deforestation.
  • Macaws cannot be legally exported. Any bird that is adoptable has been bred domestically. 
  • Researchers believe that macaws have an intelligence similar to a four-year-old child. This means they can be taught tricks and words and can even solve mazes and puzzles!
  • The name “macaw” derives from the sounds that these birds make in the wild.
  • Hybrid parrots are often more expensive than what some may refer to as an “ordinary” parrot. 
  • Harlequin macaws are a cross between blue-and-gold and green-winged macaws. However, their coloring is extremely similar to that of a catalina. 
  • When it comes to temperature, macaws are most comfortable in environments between 70-80℉.
  • When it comes to allergies, many sensitivities are highly reported in blue-and-gold macaws, so this may be an issue with their offspring as well.

Are Catalina Macaws Good for Beginners? 

Catalina macaws may not be the best choice for a first-time or amateur bird owner.

These parrots, like many others, require high-level maintenance, socialization, and commitment. 

For those new to pet birds, a parakeet is usually a wise choice.

This will help new owners become familiar with bird care, behavior, and training and understand the daily interaction needed before moving on to larger parrots.

Caring for a Catalina Macaw: Requirements

A catalina macaw with his head turned to his right and his wings held slightly open.

Food and Diet

When it comes to their diets, macaws require a consistent and well-balanced diet containing varying types of seeds and nuts (in moderation), pellets, fruits, berries, and vegetation, such as leaves similar to what they would eat in their natural habitat.

If seeds and nuts are included in commercial food mixes, your macaw will most likely pick through and only eat their “favorites,” which are typically peanuts and sunflower seeds.

These may seem healthy, but they are actually high in fats and are the equivalent to giving your bird candy everyday.

Over time, your bird can become ill from malnourishment. 

If your bird is currently on a high-seed diet, try only giving them a few seeds in addition to pellets, fruits, and fresh vegetables.

Due to a recent question-and-answer session with team members at Texas Avian and Exotic Hospital, I wanted to share with you the tips they provided:

  • Commercial seed and nut mixes often are sprayed with a vitamin mixture, but this spray rarely penetrates the shell.
  • Seeds and nuts can be a small part of the diet of most parrots.
  • Small slivers of healthier nuts, such as almonds or walnuts or pieces of seeds, can be used as an effective training reward for food-motivated birds and used in foraging puzzles and toys for enrichment.
  • Pellets are precisely formulated to include essential nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals in known quantities based on our current understanding of companion bird nutrition.
  • Conversion to a healthier diet that includes formulated diets must be done with great care and observation.
  • Vitamin supplements are not considered necessary for birds on a healthy diet, but may be recommended for birds that are having difficulty converting to a healthier diet or have evidence of nutritional deficiency based on exam or diagnostic findings by your veterinarian.

So, what should your macaw’s diet look like? According to, 75-80% of your bird’s diet should be a good brand of pellet.

The remaining amount of nutrients should come from a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Poor nutrition is the number one cause of illness in most birds.

If unsure, always consult with a veterinarian on what your bird should be eating. 

Mental Stimulation

Socialization and mental stimulation are critical to most parrots’ health. This bird in particular requires daily play and frequent interaction.

In addition, catalina macaws and many other parrots require at least four hours outside of their cage each day.

If left unattended, these birds can become depressed or even aggressive.

Feather plucking and biting are two of the most common signs that your bird is seeking attention or is having mental health related issues. 


Like most birds, catalina macaws are extremely vocal. Known for their squawks and screeches, these birds love to be noticed.

They can be trained to talk or wave at you, sit on your shoulder, and some will sometimes nuzzle you.

Be aware that most interactions, especially when training, may only occur for about 15-20 minutes. 

Exercise Needs

Catalina macaws generally need several hours of activity each day to remain strong, healthy, and physically fit.

This activity could include flying, exploring throughout the house, playing on a bird gym, dancing, or playing with toys.

A lack of exercise results in an unhealthy, overweight bird with wasted muscle and a poor outlook on life.

Training a Catalina Macaw

Side view of the head of a catalina macaw with slightly raised feathers.

When it comes to training, one good place to start is to introduce them to anyone that will be handling and/or training them.

To do this, simply have each person or family member hold the bird and give them a treat. Over time, usually after a few weeks, this will create what some may call a “family bird.” 

This exercise, or any handling, is not recommended for young children, even if they are respectful.

Macaws, like other hook-billed birds, have extremely strong beaks. If not careful, this can result in the possibility of a bite, which could severely injure a child and even an adult. 

Can Catalina Macaws Talk?

Catalinas, along with other macaw species, can be trained to say dozens of words or phrases. 

When it comes to training your bird to speak, macaws associate the words they hear with the tones in which they are spoken.

So always be consistent with how you say each word or phrase you are trying to teach them.

Another tip is to stick to one word or phrase at a time. Trying to teach them multiple things may lead to halt in progress or confusion.

Once your bird learns one or two words, they will begin to pick up new words a lot faster, especially with consistent training. 

Are Catalina Macaws Aggressive?

Normally, any sort of aggression is not in this bird’s nature nature.

If any sort of attack or aggression does occur, this is usually due to the bird feeling agitated, nervous, or threatened.

In the wild, macaws will fly away from whatever is bothering them. In captivity, the bird does not have too far they can go in most situations.

This leads to aggressive or anxious behavior. Catalinas, in particular, can be cranky if their needs are not met.

Some owners refer to these birds as being similar to a toddler. They can be sweet but will throw a tantrum if not given what they want. 

Do Catalina Macaws Bite?

Bites are possible with any bird. It is important to know the body language of the catalina macaw to prevent any sort of attacks or bites.

Some of these behavioral signs include:

  • Spitting or hissing.
  • Fanning their tails.
  • Swaying side to side while the crest is tightly back.
  • Fluffing their back feathers while swooping their head to bite.
  • Standing tall. 

You’ll find advice on putting an end to this behavior in our article “Do Macaws Bite?

Possible Health Concerns 

Similar to all macaws, the catalina can face a few different types of health issues. 

Proventricular Dilatation Disease

This disorder was first discovered in the 1970s and is also known as “parrot wasting disease.”

This condition affects the nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract in birds. Over time, your bird will slowly waste away, since there is no effective treatment to cure this.

Anti-inflammatories, assisted feeding, and the treatment of any other disease can keep them comfortable, but ultimately, this is unfortunately fatal. 


Psittacosis is caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia psittaci.

This disease can also be spread to humans through the dust that is produced from bird droppings in the cage.

This waste can remain infectious for weeks, so it is recommended to take extreme caution when cleaning your bird’s cage.

Symptoms in birds can include diarrhea, discolored droppings, discharge from the eyes and nose, and loss of appetite.

In humans, symptoms can vary but are usually either similar to that of the flu or pneumonia. Since modern trade, this has become less common.  

Additional Potential Health Concerns

  • Viral, bacterial, or fungal diseases caused by poor care and hygiene, malnourishment, or stress. The most common infections include sinusitis, rhinitis, staphylococci, and streptococci.
  • Allergies are more common in birds than you might suspect, and asthma in birds is caused by the powdery dust that is produced by their feathers.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Papillomas are growths that are usually benign but can spread to various parts of their bodies.
  • Beak malformations on chicks
  • If their needs are not met, feather plucking or self-mutilation can also become an issue. If you notice this occurring in your bird, call your vet immediately.

Can Catalina Macaws Be Crossed With Other Macaws? 

Yes! Even though catalinas themselves are hard to come by, this hybrid has been used in the creation of many colorful types of macaws.

Some catalina hybrids include:

  • Catablu (catalina x blue-and-gold).
  • Camelot (catalina x scarlet)
  • Camelina (catalina x camelot).
  • Flame (catalina x green-winged).
  • Hyalina (catalina x hyacinth).
  • Maui sunrise (catalina x harlequin).