Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)  


Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family:    Psittacidae
Size:    Length: 30 to 36 inches (76 to 91 cm)   Wingspan: 42 to 48 inches (107 to 122 cm)
Weight: 2 to 2.5 pounds (0.9 to 1.1 kg)
Diet: Fruits, nuts and occasionally nectar and flowers
Distribution: Mexico, Central America and South America
Young:  2 to 4 chicks every year or two
Animal Predators:  Monkeys, toucans and snakes
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Group: Flock  Young: Chick
Lifespan: Up to 40 years the wild and up to 80 years in captivity 



·     Mated scarlet macaws show affection by licking each other’s faces.

·     Eggshell analysis has led researchers to believe that pigeons are parrots’ closest relatives.

·     Scarlet macaws can fly at speeds of up to 35 miles (56 km) per hour.



True to their name, scarlet macaws are mostly red, with blue and yellow feathers on their wings. Their beak is large, with a black lower bill and a pink upper bill. Their feet and legs are black. 



Scarlet macaws can be found in southern Mexico, Central America and South America—in northern countries from Venezuela to northern Brazil. 


Feeding Habits

They eat mostly fruit and nuts, and because their sharp beaks enable them to eat unripe fruit, they can access food before other animals get to it. They have also been seen eating clay from riverbanks and it is believed that the clay helps them digest the roughage in their diets. 



The only time scarlet macaw pairs are not together is when they have eggs and one bird (usually the female) sits on the eggs while the other gathers food and brings it back to the nest. The nest is located in a hollowed area within a tree. A couple has a clutch of eggs every year or two, only after the previous brood has left the nest. The eggs are slightly smaller than the eggs of a domestic chicken. The eggs hatch in 24 to 25 days and the chicks are born blind and naked. The male feeds the chicks with pre-chewed food, regurgitating it for them. The chicks do not fly until they reach at least three months of age, and often stay with their parents for up to two years. Scarlet macaws reach full adult maturity at three to four years of age.



Scarlet macaws are rarely found apart from their mates once they have formed a pair bond. They are monogamous birds who mate for life and live in small flocks, mainly gathering at night to sleep.  Scarlet macaws often use their left foot to help manoeuvre food to the mouth while perching on the right foot. In fact, researchers have found that most parrots seem to be left-footed. When threatened, scarlet macaws utter a harsh cry as they fly away—otherwise these birds are usually very quiet and perch on a branch or sit in their nests high up in trees, which are in the upper canopy of the rainforest.



The World Parrot Trust was formed in 1989 to protect parrots in their natural environment. Although it is illegal to capture and sell scarlet macaws, the illegal parrot trade remains a highly successful business. The destruction of the rainforests is another serious threat to this species.



Scarlet Macaw Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Harrison, C. and Greensmith, A. (1993). Birds of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited