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Scarlet macaw

Ara macao

Description: The feathers of the Scarlet macaw range in color from scarlet on the head and shoulders, to yellow on the back and mid-wing feathers. The Central American Scarlet macaw has blue on its wing tips and tail feathers; the South American Scarlet macaw has green on the wing tips and tail feathers. The legs and feet are black. The face has short white hairs (the area surrounding the light yellow colored eyes). The long, thick beak is light in color on top and dark black below. Macaws have more movement in their strong, hooked beaks than do other birds, allowing them to break open an important food source such as nuts.

Size: Body length is approximately 35 inches (89 cm) with the tail being approximately a to 1⁄2 of this length. They normally weigh about 2.2 pounds (1 kg).

Behavior: Macaws flock together at night to sleep, but are monogamous by nature. They are rarely seen alone, unless one of the pair must tend to the nest. Generally, macaws use their left foot in handling food. This foot is an appendage used to aid the beak. The right foot supports their body. Most believe this seems to be based on the same principle as whether a human is right or left handed. The use of the left as an appendage instead of the right, may be due to the development of the macaw’s right side of the brain. They are seed predators, not dispersers. Seed predators destroy seeds rather than eating the fruit and leaving the seeds.

Diet: Their diet includes nuts, berries and seeds.

Senses: Their eyesight and hearing are excellent.

Communication: Scarlet macaws communicate by vocalizing, posturing and tactilely when mated pairs are preening each other.

Reproduction: Scarlet macaws are monogamous. Breeding occurs approximately every one to two years. Females do most of the incubating, but after hatching, the young may stay with both their parents for one to two years with the male doing all of the feeding. The clutch size is two to four white, rounded eggs. The incubation period is 24 to 25 days. The parents will not have new offspring until the juveniles have left the nest. They reach sexual maturity at three to four years of age.

Habitat/range: They prefer humid forests and savannas close to rivers and lagoons from Mexico to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.

Status: Scarlet macaws are listed on CITES, Appendix I and Least Concern on IUCN Red List.