Great Green Macaw
Ara ambiguus

Guacamayo Ambiguo

77 to 85 cm.. length and an average weight of 1300 g..

Ilustración Guacamayo Ambiguo

The Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) has the forecrown and the former area of the lores dark red; crown bright green, bluish in the nape. The the mantle and back Green olive: scapulars of the same colour but some with blue tips; rump and uppertail-coverts bright pale blue, lesser and median coverts greenish oliva-marron; greater coverts bluish green. The primaries and secondaries blue, more dark in the margin of the vane inner. Wing feathers color olive; rest of underwing-coverts color oro-oliva.

Black feathers off at the top of the throat bordering the lower mandible; rest of the throat, the chest and the belly brighter yellowish green, feathers on the lower area of the abdomen with red bases hidden; undertail- coverts pale blue. Under, the tail, reddish orange in the Center with blue tips, increasingly blue outer feathers and more completely blue external; undertail, the tail, color oro-oliva.

Upper mandible Blackish at the base, color Horn towards the tip and edges, lower mandible negruzca; bare skin of the lores posterior and cheeks Pink crossed by narrow dark red feather knowledges and black lines on the cheeks; irises pale yellow, legs dark grey.

Both sexes similar.

The tail of the immature opaque yellow-tipped, the plumage duller than the adult Green (especially below), the irises brown.

The older adult birds sometimes show patches of Turquoise in the plumage, especially in rear of the neck and the chest.


    The Military Macaw (Ara militaris) is so similar to this species, in German are called minor military Macaw (Militaris) and greater (ambiguous).

    An Ecuadorean specimen intermediate between the Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) and the Military Macaw (Ara militaris) suggests one hybridization, increasing the likelihood that the two forms are the same species. Although separate from the ecological point of view.

    The Ambiguous macaws and Military You can be in contact at the bottom of the Valle del Cauca in Colombia, and in the Northwest of Ecuador and West Colombia. The Great Green Macaw (mainly in humid lowland forests) use deciduous forests, While the Military Macaw (mainly of dry upland forest) they are also recorded in lowland moist forests. Both make seasonal movements and in the case of the Military Macaw, they perform movements of long distance between their preferred habitats.

    The length of the tail and of the wings of the Mexican military Macaw and species nominal of the Great Green Macaw, They show a considerable overlap. Waiting to collect more details, the Great Green Macaw and the Military Macaw they are here treated as separate species.

  • Sound of the Great Green Macaw.

Subspecies description:

  • Ara ambiguus ambiguus

    (Bechstein, 1811) – The nominal species

  • Ara ambiguus guayaquilensis

    (Chapman, 1925) – The bill smaller, with a more greenish color under the flight feathers and under the tail.


The Great Green Macaw they are very shy and difficult to see birds, usually found at no lower altitudes of 35 meters in the treetops. They feed in silence and many times could be up to more than five hours in a same tree.

Mainly observed in moist lowland forests, but also in deciduous forests in the Chongon region to the southwest of Ecuador.

In Costa Rica in the primary forest of low and clear land with tall trees, from time to time in the lower montane forests. Crossing open between forest fragments fields and visit remnants of trees of the species Dipteryx on forest pastures.

Remote forests in Panama.

In Ecuador inhabits humid lowland, deciduous forest and Montane forest low but also visit more open areas for feeding.

They come to the 600 metres in the Cordillera de Guanacaste, Costa Rica; between 1.000 and more rarely 1.500 m, in Darien, Panama.

Less sociable than other large macaws, Although usually seen in pairs, in groups of 3-4, and more rarely in groups of up to twelve birds.


Form pairs of lifetime and are almost true to their nests, nesting from December to June. The majority of couples the first egg at the end of January and February the nests are young. The female incubates the eggs, While the male brings food to the nest. Both parents are responsible for feeding the pigeons, to do so approximately every two hours. These are birds that take care of their chicks until they can avail themselves, They even take care of them until that hatch the chicks of the season.

The average clutch consists of 2 – 3 white eggs, they are incubated by the female for a few 26 days. Hatchlings are blind, nude and completely dependent on the care of parents; they weigh around 23 g..

The chicks are fed by both parents and they leave the nest When you have about 12 – 13 weeks of age. At the time they leave the nest, usually weigh between 930-985 g..

A nest in Guayas, Ecuador, in the cavity of a tree of the species Cavanillesia platanifolia. Reported nestings between August-October in Ecuador. Breeding during the dry season (December-April) in Costa Rica.


The diet of the Great Green Macaw includes fruits of Lecythis costaricensis, Dipteryx panamensis, Sloanea, Dalium guianensis and Ficus, and flowers of Symphonia globulifera.

Feeds in the treetops.


Size of the area of distribution (reproduction / resident): 100,000 km2

Its distribution ranges from the East of Honduras to western Colombia and West of Ecuador.

Observed in the lowlands of the Caribbean East of Honduras through this of Nicaragua to the lowlands of Costa Rica especially on the slope of the Caribbean, including the Cordillera de Guanacaste.

In Panama especially on the slope of the Caribbean, but also locally in the Pacific. From East Panama to the tropical zone to the West of Colombia, on Western Cordillera of the Andes and South to the upper area of the Atrato river and The Baudó mountains (possibly up to Buenaventura) and East towards the north end of the Andes in the West of the upper part of the Valley of the Rio Sinú.

In West Ecuador observed mostly from the Colonche hills, Northwest of Guayaquil; also further north, in Esmeraldas, possibly in the extreme southwest of Colombia, Although forests here are, Perhaps, too humid (See geographic variation).

The numbers fluctuate locally due to movements of foraging season. Local appearances in Costa Rica they often coincide with the fruiting of trees of the species Dipteryx.

Local, being the most common of the large macaws in Panama. However, in general, rare, with the decline in recent large scale of its population due to obvious deforestation in the range.

Extinguished much of Ecuador, where the population (only 100 birds) It is threatened by loss of habitat due to urbanization and agriculture.

The exploitation of trees of the species Dipteryx It poses a serious threat in Costa Rica.

They occur in several protected areas, including the The Darien biosphere reserve, Panama, The Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, Honduras and Cotacachi-Cayapas ecological reserve, Ecuador, but seasonal pilgrimages suggest that these areas are insufficient on their own to preserve the populations.

Less common that the Military Macaw (Ara militaris) in captivity and bred rarely. CITES Appendix I. VULNERABLE (included as subspecies of the Military Macaw Necklace et to the. 1994).

Distribution of subspecies:

  • Ara ambiguus ambiguus

    (Bechstein, 1811) – The nominal species

  • Ara ambiguus guayaquilensis

    (Chapman, 1925) – In critically endangered; they live in the wild in limited sectors of the western part of the Ecuador; characteristic is their habitat in tropical and dry damp forests of the Ecuadorian coast


• Current red list of UICN: Danger

• Population trend: Decreasing

Recent estimates suggest that the population has less than 2.500 mature individuals (or less than 3.700 in total if we include juveniles and immature); would be the largest sub-population in Darien, to the East of Panama, with less than 1.700 mature individuals (or less than 2.500 in total). You still must be careful, due to that in non-breeding times can form groups of 50 individuals or more, It can be qe will overestimate their populations. In addition, Although it is most abundant in Darien, It is found in specific areas, finding numerous areas without copies.


HABITAT LOSS: In Central America, deforestation inter alia to increase the banana plantations and livestock, as well as logging for other reasons, they have strongly affected. In fact, annual deforestation rates are very high throughout its range, and deforestation in Panama likely to be superior to the 30% its original range. In other countries such as Costa Rica and Ecuador also reduced its range in the last 100 years. Urbanization and agriculture that have destroyed their habitat have resulted in great part with the subspecies of the Ecuador.

For example, the Zona Norte (Costa Rica) It has been the country highest deforestation rate in two decades, both legal and illegal, leaving less than a 30% the forest on foot. However, It is important to mention that several scientific studies highlight the high level of biodiversity of forests of the North Huetar region, among the most diverse of Central America.

Also, Although there are few protected areas for these birds as the Indio-Maíz biological reserve of Nicaragua, where they found an extensive habitat conducive to its development; However, become every day more frequent incursions by Costa Rican wood on the other side of the San Juan River, so this reserve, one of the most important of Central America It is also not safe from chainsaws.

CAPTURE ILLEGAL: the illegal trade that exists with the Great Green Macaw for use as a pet is a factor that jeopardizes its existence.
They are also captured because their feathers are used to make paintings about them.

HUNTING: It also seems that sometimes fires them as a pest to crops.


With regard to the threats, of course it is your hunt forbidden for the trade, power or to obtain their feathers, Although often living standards are not met.

Is located in the CITES both in Appendix I and II as.

RESERVATIONS: It is very important for these birds the Darien biosphere reserve, Panama, and the adjacent Los Katíos National Park, Colombia. There are also other important reserves in all countries covered although they provide little protection to these birds.

In Costa Rica, Although it was a proposed moratorium on logging the almond trees, This finally was not carried out. On the other hand, a Government-backed conservation strategy is being implemented in Ecuador.

Proof that the investigation in these cases is important, is that in 2007, a rapid assessment survey looking for last survivors in the Cordillera-Chongon Colonche, Ecuador, gave positive results.

On the other hand, There is a bi-national campaign in the lowlands of the San Juan River (Nicaragua and Costa Rica), It is intended to increase knowledge of the biology, threats and conservation, and strengthen the management of natural resources.

The Research and conservation of the Great Green Macaw project dedicated since 1994 the study of the biology of conservation of the Great Green Macaw on Zona Norte (Costa Rica) and it has an important biological database on this species, in fact the only information of this kind that exists in Central America, According to the same source. This project was initiated to concerns that its population was restricted and that the forest was also be sacrificing at a very fast pace. The project is supported from 1997 by the Tropical Science Center, the same body that administers the The Monteverde Cloud forest biological reserve. The concern was justified when the first phase of the study determined that the area of distribution of the Great Green Macaw in Costa Rica had been reduced in a 90% Since the beginning of the 20th century.

In Costa Rica have been reproduced in captivity at some sites, as the ZOOAVE Zoo.


• One of them is to make effective protection in the reserves of Honduras and Nicaragua.

• Another designate the proposed as Maquenque National Park, in Costa Rica.

• We should restrict trade through the application of the law and educational campaigns.

• Finally it would be very interesting to acquire certain areas private reserves, to ensure the same protection.

Ambiguous macaw in captivity:

Less common that the Military Macaw (Ara militaris) in captivity and bred rarely.

The Great Green Macaw only recommended for experienced handlers and breeders. There are more silent than other macaws and can be kept with other large macaws outside the breeding season.

Breeding pairs require long flights of at least 15 m. These parrots are not suitable for the interior of a House.

With regard to its longevity, According to sources, a specimen was still alive after 29 years in captivity.

Alternative names:

Great Green Macaw, Buffon’s Macaw, Grand Military Macaw, Green Macaw (English).
Ara de Buffon, Grand Ara vert (French).
Bechsteinara, Bechstein-Ara, Grosser Soldatenara (German).
Arara-militar-grande (Portuguese).
Guacamaya Verdelimón, Guacamayo Ambiguo, Guacamayo de Cara Blanca, Guacamayo verde mayor, Guara verde, Lapa Verde (Spanish).
Guacamaya Verdelimón, Gucamaya verde limón (Colombia).
Guacamayo verde mayor, Lapa Verde (Costa Rica).
Guacamayo verde mayor (Ecuador).
Bagarapabara (Emberá).

Johann Matthäus Bechstein
Johann Matthäus Bechstein

Scientific classification:

Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Genus: ARA
Scientific name: Ara ambiguus
Citation: (Bechstein, 1811)
Protonimo: Psittacus ambiguus

Great Green Macaw images:


Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus)


– Parrots of the World – Forshaw Joseph M
– Parrots A Guide to the Parrots of the World – Tony Juniper & Mike Parr


(1) – Great Green Macaw in the zoo in Hodonín, Czech Republic By Bohuna Mikulicová (Zoologická zahrada Hodonín) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(2) – Ara ambigua from Zoo Schmiding By Alois Staudacher (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(3) – Great Green Macaw (also known as Buffon’s Macaw). A male in a cage By Ruth Rogers (originally posted to Flickr as Male Buffon’s Macaw) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(4) – Ara ambiguus at the zoo at Paradise Village Resort, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico By Riley Huntley (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
(5) – Ara ambiguus, La Selva, Costa Rica By Don Faulkner (Great Green Macaw) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(6) – Onze vogels in huis en tuin By Keulemans, J. G. [CC BY 2.0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sounds: (Xeno-canto)

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Use of cookies

This web site uses cookies so that you have the best user experience. If you continue browsing you are giving your consent for the acceptance of the aforementioned cookies and the acceptance of our cookies policy, Click the link for more information.plugin cookies

Notice of cookies
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x