Macaws are more sensitive in their respiratory system than a
lot of the other types. They are at risk of Pulmonary
Hypersensitivity Syndrome. Especially if they share space with
some other types of parrots and if you do not use a very good,
HEPA filtered air cleaner in their area. Below is some more
info on this I've pasted for you, but bottom line, the "get to
a vet" advice is correct. Don't put it off. It is likely to
only get worse.
Providing a good environment as well as a good diet is
essential in keeping your bird healthy. In addition to proper
temperature, good ventilation is essential.
Although good ventilation is necessary for any type of bird, it
is especially critical for macaws. Blue and Gold macaws, as
well as several other species of macaws, seem especially
sensitive to airborne irritants. They may develop a progressive
respiratory disease known as "pulmonary hypersensitivity
syndrome" if housed in a poorly ventilated room, especially if
kept with birds that produce a great deal of powder -
cockatoos, cockatiels and African grey parrots.
This powder is produced by specialized "powder down feathers"
and is a white waxy substance composed of keratin. Powder down
forms a water proof barrier for contour feathers. It is spread
through the feathers when the bird grooms. The down is composed
of very fine particulate matter which becomes airborne very
easily and spreads via air currents and air ducts throughout
The powder down can also cause irritation to people with
respiratory problems and allergies. (People with allergies may
be able to tolerate these birds, but they should be aware of
this before acquiring one of them).
In the early stages of pulmonary hypersensitivity syndrome, the
macaw may appear normal, but wheeze with excitement. As the
condition progresses, dyspnea (difficulty in breathing), a
cough and a bluish tinge to the facial skin (cyanosis) develop.
Hypoxia or under oxygenation of tissues occurs, which often
leads to an increase in the number of circulating red blodd
cells (rbc). Polycythemia (increased rbc numbers) will increase
the viscosity of the blood so that it does not flow normally.
Clinical symptoms and xrays may support the diagnosis, but a
lung biopsy is necessary for confirmation.
In order to prevent this, macaws should be housed in well
ventilated rooms - without cockatoos, cockatiels or African
greys. An air cleaner with a hepa filter is recommended.
Unfortunately, this pulmonary disease is often advanced when
owners first notice a problem.
Affected birds should be moved to an environment with adequate
ventilation. Certain drugs may provide temporary relief, but
there is no cure for "pulmonary hypersensitiviy syndrome".