Scarlet Macaw


Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)
Background information
Taxonomy Birds
Status Least Concern
Range South America
Central South America
Habitat Tropical Rainforest
Feathers, fur

Scarlet Macaws are a large, red, yellow and blue South American parrot, and are a member of the large group of Neotropical parrots called macaws. It is native to humid evergreen forests of tropical South America. Range extends from extreme south-eastern mexico to Amazonian Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela and Brazil in lowlands. Felipe and his tribe are scarlet macaws.


The Scarlet Macaw is about 81 centimeters (32 in) long, of which more than half is the pointed, graduated tail typical of all macaws, though the Scarlet Macaw has a larger percentage of tail than the other large Macaws. The average weight is about 1 kilogram (2.2 lb). The plumage is mostly scarlet, but the rump and tail-covert feathers are light blue, the greater upper wing coverts are yellow, the upper sides of the flight feathers of the wings are dark blue as are the ends of the tail feathers, and the undersides of the wing and the tail flight feathers are dark red with metallic gold iridescence.

There is bare white skin around the eye and from there to the bill. Tiny white feathers are contained on the face patch. The upper mandible is mostly pale horn in color and the lower is black. Juveniles have dark eyes and adults have light yellow eyes.

Scarlet Macaw

The Scarlet Macaw is frequently confused with the slightly larger Green-winged Macaw, which has more distinct red lines in the face and no yellow on the wing. Scarlet Macaws make very loud, high and sometimes low-pitched, throaty squawks, squeaks and screams designed to carry many miles to call for their groups.

A well raised Scarlet Macaw can live up to 75 years in captivity, although a more typical lifespan is 40 to 50 years.

Taxonomy and naming

The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao Linnaeus 1758) is a member of the genus Ara (Lacepede, 1799), one of 6 genera of Central and South American macaws. Carolus Linnaeus described and named the Scarlet Macaw in his Systemae Naturae in 1758. Protonym: Psittacus macao.
Scarlet Macaw Macao

Scarlet Macaw Subspecies: Ara Macao Macao

Two subspecies present differing widths in their yellow wing band:

  • A. macao macao South American Scarlet Macaw, the nominate subspecies
  • A. macao cyanoptera (Wiedenfeld 1995) North Central American Scarlet Macaw

The Central American scarlet macaw is larger and has blue on its wings instead of green.

Status on the Scarlet Macaw

The South American range is extensive and covers the Amazon Basin; extending to Peru east of the Andes, to Bolivia and paraguay, the habitat of Scarlet Macaws is considered to have the greatest latitudinal range for any bird in the geuse Ara, as the estimated maximum territorial range covers 6,700,000 km².
Distribution of the Ara macao

maximum territorial range of the scarlet macaw covers 6,700,000 km²

Nevertheless, the Scarlet Macaw’s habitat is fragmented, and the bird is mostly confined to tiny populations scattered throughout its original range in Middle America.

Despite this, the Scarlet macaw is generally one of the most common macaws, and isn't very likely to become endangered in the near future.

Behavior and Breeding

A typical sighting is of a single bird or a flock flying above the forest canopy. Scarlet macaws usually mate for life, and there are usually two or three eggs in one clutch. The female incubates them for about five weeks, and the young leave the nest around a year later, reaching sexual maturity at five years old.


Scarlet macaws eat a variety of foods including seeds, nuts, fruits, palm fruits, leaves, flowers, and Qtems. Wild species may forage widely, over 100 km (62 mi) for some of the larger species such as Ara araurana (Blue & Yellow macaw) and Ara ambigua (Great Green macaw), in search of seasonally available foods.

Some foods eaten by macaws in certain regions in the wild are said to contain toxic or caustic substances which they are able to digest. Along with other macaws and birds in the Amazon basin, Scarlet macaws eat clay from exposed river banks to neutralize these toxins.

Scarlet macaw eatting clay

scarlet macaws on the side of a clif eatting clay


Main article: Scarlet Macaw/Gallery

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