Macaw

The macaw is a long-tailed New World parrot distinguished from other parrots by a larger beak, long tail, light-colored and relatively bare face patches. The 19 species of macaws are native to Central and South America and Mexico in North America.

The majority of macaws are endangered. A few species are extinct, i.e. Spix’s and glaucous macaws. Primarily deforestation with clearing or burning forest areas for farming or urbanization and the pet trade which is a high mortality rate are responsible for declining numbers of macaws. Feather usage has also been a factor in diminishing numbers.

Did you know? The facial feather pattern of a macaw is as individual as a human fingerprint.

Hyacinth

Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus

Habitat: Central and eastern South America

Diet in the wild: Nuts (can crack a coconut!), seeds, fruits and even nectar

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Orange, celery, apple, yam, squash, pear, banana, corn, grape, bell pepper, green beans, apple, pellets

Size: 3.3 feet (longest parrot, largest macaw); 2½-3¾ pounds

Family: Prefers to nest in tree cavities

Status: Least concern, but population decreasing

Did you know? This macaw does have limited tool use. It will prop up harder nuts with vegetation so that the nuts don’t slip while the macaw gnaws into them.

This macaw has a dry, smooth tongue with a bone inside—perfect for tearing into fruits. In addition to that specialized tongue, this macaw has a beak so strong it can crack a coconut.

Blue & Yellow or Blue & Gold Macaw

Ara ararauna

Habitat: Tropical South American forests

Diet in the wild: Seeds, nuts, fruits, even some small animals

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Orange, celery, apple, yam, squash, pear, banana, corn, grape, bell pepper, green beans, apple, pellets

Size: 30-34 inches; 2-3 pounds

Family: Mate for life

Status: Least concern, but numbers declining

Did you know? The blue and yellow macaw is one of the larger macaw species. It spends about 85% of each day in trees. With those perfectly adapted zygodactyl (two toes directly forward and two toes backward) this larger macaw is an excellent climber.

Green Wing or Red & Green Macaw

Ara chloropterus

Habitat: North and central South America

Diet in the wild: Can crack Brazil nuts with that powerful beak, fruits, berries, seed

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Orange, celery, apple, yam, squash, pear, banana, corn, grape, bell pepper, green beans, apple, pellets

Size: 35-37 inches; 2-3¾ pounds

Family: Monogamous; mate for life

Status: Not assessed by IUCN. Currently there is a reintroduction program in Argentina.

Did you know? The green-wing macaw is the second largest of the macaw species. It can inhabit tropical rainforest or wooded areas and sometimes is even seen in open savanna-like areas. Although it does need trees for roosting and nesting, it will nest in a cliff face cavity.

Military

Ara militaris

Habitat: Mexico to South America

Diet in the wild: Seeds, nuts, berries, fruits and vegetation found in treetops. Will frequent “macaw licks” which are clay licks. Eating the clay appears to detoxify some of the poisons found in the seeds and vegetation, as well as supplying dietary salts.

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Orange, celery, apple, yam, squash, pear, banana, corn, grape, bell pepper, green beans, apple, pellets

Size: 27-28 inches; 2-2½ pounds

Family: Live in large flocks

Status: Vulnerable with numbers decreasing

Did you know? When the military macaw is excited, its face appears to blush, turning a pinkish red.

This macaw lives higher in the mountain than other macaws. Not only will this macaw nest in the trees, but it will also nest in a cavity on a cliff-face.

Scarlet Macaw

Ara macao

Habitat: Southeast Mexico to South America

Diet in the wild: Berries, fruits, nuts, seeds

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Orange, celery, apple, yam, squash, pear, banana, corn, grape, bell pepper, green beans, apple, pellets

Size: 32 inches; 2.2 pounds

Family: Generally see single bird or a pair. In some areas, flocks are seen.

Status: Least concern although numbers are decreasing

Did you know? The scarlet macaw can live up to 75 years in captivity.

Obviously this bird gets its name for those beautiful red feathers covering its body. This macaw can be found in subtropical forests or even arid woodlands. This bird is also seen at clay licks.


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