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Blue-and-gold Macaw
Blue-and-gold Macaw
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae

Macaws are large colorful New World parrots, classified into six of the many Psittacidae genera: Ara, Anodorhynchus, Cyanopsitta, Propyrrhura, Orthopsittaca, and Diopsittaca. They are the largest birds in the parrot family in length and wingspan, though the flightless Kakapo is heavier.

Parrots are zygodactyl, like woodpeckers, having 4 toes on each foot two front and two back.

Their native habitats are the forests, especially rain forests, of Mexico and Central and South America. They are called guacamayos in Spanish and araras in Portuguese.


Species in taxonomic order

  • Anodorhynchus
    • Anodorhynchus glaucus : Glaucous Macaw
      Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus : Hyacinth Macaw
      Anodorhynchus leari : Indigo Macaw or Lear's Macaw
  • Cyanopsitta
    • Cyanopsitta spixii : Little Blue Macaw or Spix's Macaw
  • Ara
    • Ara ararauna : Blue-and-yellow Macaw
      Ara glaucogularis : Blue-throated Macaw
      Ara militaris : Military Macaw
      Ara ambiguus : Buffon's Macaw or Great Green Macaw
      Ara macao : Scarlet Macaw or Aracanga
      Ara chloroptera : Greenwing Macaw or Red-and-green Macaw
      Ara rubrogenys : Red-fronted Macaw
      Ara severa : Chestnut-fronted Macaw or Severe Macaw
      Ara atwoodi : Dominican Green-and-Yellow Macaw
      Ara erythrocephala : Jamaican Green-and-Yellow Macaw
      Ara gossei : Jamaican Red Macaw
      Ara guadeloupensis : Lesser Antillean Macaw
      Ara tricolor : Cuban Red Macaw
      Ara autocthones : Saint Croix Macaw[1]
  • Orthopsittaca
    • Orthopsittaca manilata : Red-bellied Macaw
  • Propyrrhura
    • Propyrrhura couloni : Blue-headed Macaw
      Propyrrhura maracana : Illiger's Macaw or Blue-winged Macaw
      Propyrrhura auricollis : Golden-collared Macaw
  • Diopsittaca
    • Diopsittaca nobilis : Red-shouldered Macaw or Hahn's Macaw


The majority of macaws are now endangered in the wild. Five species are already extinct, and Spix's Macaw is now considered to be extinct in the wild. The Glaucous Macaw is also probably extinct, with only two reliable records of sightings in the 20th century. The greatest problems threatening the macaw population are the rapid rate of deforestation and the illegal trapping of birds for the bird trade.

Birds in captivity

Macaws eat nuts and fruit. They also gnaw and chew on various objects. They show a large amount of intelligence in their behaviour and require constant intellectual stimulation to satisfy their innate curiosity.

Bonding: Macaws have been said to live for up to 100 years; however, an average of 50 years is probably more accurate. The larger macaws may live up to 65 years. They are monogamous and mate for life. In captivity unmated macaws will bond primarily with one person their keeper. Pet macaws thrive on frequent interaction, and a lack of this can lead to their mental and physical suffering.

Other sub-bondings also take place and most macaws that are subjected to non-aggressive behavior will trust most humans, and can be handled even by strangers if someone familiar is also alongside.

Captive pet macaws sometimes display difficult behavior, the most common being biting, screaming, and feather-plucking. Feather-plucking does not normally occur in the wild, strongly suggesting that it is the result of a neurosis related to life in captivity.

Most pet macaws had ancestors living in the wild just two or three generations ago, and are not truly domesticated by any reasonable definition. (This is unlike, for example, dogs; some estimates put the domestication of dogs as far back as 40,000 years ago.)

All species of macaws have very powerful, large beaks and are capable of causing considerable harm to both children and adults. They tend to be extremely loud: their voices are designed to carry over long distances. This makes macaws very demanding birds to keep as a household pet.


A common trend in recent years is hybridising macaws for the pet trade. Hybrids are typical macaws, with the only difference from true species being their genetics and their colors. They tend to have intermediate characteristics between the parents', though the appearance seems to be influenced more by the father's genes. As for their temperament and behaviour, they seem to inherit the best of both parents, assuming both parents are not aggressive. Common hybrids include Harlequins (Ara ararauna x chloroptera) and Catalinas (known as Rainbows in Australia, A. ararauna x macao).[2]



  1. ^ Forshaw, Joseph Michael (1973, 1981). Parrots of the World.
  2. ^ Macaws, Hybrid Names, and pages on individual hybrids

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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