Scarlet Macaw
Ara macao

Guacamayo Macao

Of 85 a 96 cm. length and a weight between 1.060 and 1.123 g..

Ilustración Guacamayo Macao

The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) has a showy and colorful plumage, predominantly Scarlet red in the head, neck, back, throat, belly, sides and the thighs, as well as in the upper parts of the wings and tail. These pens are a brighter shade of Red, almost Orange, If you are directly exposed to the sunlight.

The feathers greater coverts and stockings of the wings they are yellow, even if the ends of these feathers are green in the subspecies Ara macao macao and blue in Ara macao cyanoptera. The t-shirts, as well as the lower coverts of the obispillo, the of the back and both upper and lower part of the tail they are blue. The internal parts of the tail and of the wings are orange-red, lighter than the predominantly Scarlet plumage.

Its bill is hooked, strong enough to cut objects, dig, help climbing and defend themselves, but light in such a way that it does not affect your flight. It consists of two parts, of which the upper is the largest and is off-white, Sometimes a little pink, Besides that it has a small black marks on each side in the region where it joins with the head. It is also black on the tip and base, forming a triangular figure of this color. At its top are its nostrils, almost imperceptible to the naked eye. The under bill, on the other hand, is completely black, like its fleshy language.

The eyes are positioned laterally in the head, and although the exposed part of the cornea is round and seemingly small, the eyeball is large enough reality, even more than the brain. Its irises is light brown on the young but it becomes yellow when reaching the adult age. Around the eyes they have an area of skin between whitish and pink which is apparently nude, Although it is in fact partially covered by small almost imperceptible reddish feathers which form thin sinuous lines.

Their legs they are short but strong, because it has powerful flexor muscles and tendons, allowing you to be upright perching. Their legszigodactilas‘ they are available in four fingers, two forward and two backwards, and are dark gray.

Morphologically, is very similar to the Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloropterus), However, differ in that the Scarlet Macaw have yellow spots on their wings While in Red-and-green Macaw, as its name implies, stains are completely Green. The same, in the Red-and-green Macaw the thin red lines on the plucked white part of your head they are much more notorious, while the Scarlet Macaw It lacks these lines or are almost imperceptible. At last, in the Red-and-green MacawScarlet Macaw Red is vivid tone, lighter, Stressing in particular in the nape and crown, where tends to Orange.

It is a species that has a very light sexual dimorphism, because the females they are smaller and their bill is more curved, short and thick, In addition to the tail of the male is slightly longer. Even so, It is difficult to determine their sex at a glance; the only reliable way to know him is through a test of collected DNA from blood or feathers, technical or more invasive as the laparoscopy and sewer exploration.

  • Sound of the Scarlet Macaw.

Subspecies description:

  • Ara macao cyanopterus

    (Wiedenfeld, 1995) – Larger than the species nominal. A dark Scarlet red in the plumage of the head and the body, a wide yellow stripe in the wings, where many feathers have blue tip, and the central feathers of the tail extremely long and wide whose tip is light blue.

  • Ara macao macao

    (Linnaeus, 1758) – The species nominal.


The Scarlet Macaw they are distributed through the tropical forests of lowlands and savannas.

In Mexico in remote areas of rainforest.

In Honduras, on the arid slopes of the Pacific, birds forage in open areas (including growing areas); sometimes in the forests of pines above the rainforest in the Mosquito Coast.

In Costa Rica in deciduous forests, wet and open and more edges with tall trees scattered areas.

They inhabit in lowland intact and partially cleared rain forest and gallery forest in Colombia.

In the rainforest, Savannah and plains in Venezuela.

They prefer dry rainforest land in Suriname and the rainforest and savanna in Guyana.

Often near rivers throughout its range.

Below 240 metres in Oaxaca, Mexico, of 1.100 metres in Honduras, 1.500 metres in Costa Rica, 500 metres in Colombia and 450 metres in Venezuela.

The Scarlet Macaw, generally, they can be observed in pairs, in groups of 3/4 birds or in flocks of up to approximately 30 individuals, up to a maximum of 50, in communal roosts in tall trees (including the mangroves).

They often perch on the top of large trees.


In Central America, the Scarlet Macaw nest during the months of December to June in the time dry (Forshaw, 1989; Monterrubio, 1996; Renton, 1998; Renton et to the., 2003).

In the Lacandon Jungle of Mexico, They nest in natural cavities of emergent trees, dead or alive, using more often of tree species of Ceiba pentandra, Schizolobium parahybum, and Vatairea lundelli (Monterrubio, 1996; Carreonarroyo, 2006).

The macaws they use large mature trees with the average breast height diameter 129 cm.. (Inigoelias, 1996; Carreon-Brook, 2006). Apparently, the macaws Select the highest cavities for nest, taking an average of 19 height m, and with dimensions of average entry 22 cm.. x 32 cm.. (Monterrubio 1996; Carreon-Brook, 2006). They prefer soft tree species for the entrance to the nest cavity can be modified.

Generally, the nests of the Scarlet Macaw they are separated by more than 3 km. (Carreonarroyo, 2006), which would reduce the strong agonistic interactions between couples that nest, and may cause the failure of nests (Renton, 2004; Renton and Brightsmith, 2009).

In Central America they put in 1 a 3 eggs (Monterrubio, 1996, Renton, 1998; Renton et to the., 2003), even if broods have been recorded of up to 4 eggs in South America (Nycander et to the., 1995). In the Lacandon Jungle of Mexico, recorded an average clutch size of 1.6 eggs/female in 1988-1989 (Inigoelias, 1996) and 2.7 eggs/female in 1998- 1999 (Carreon-Brook, 2006).

Hatch on average 1.5 a 2.0 chicks/pair, managing to fly the nest 0.6 a 1.3 young couple that nest (Monterrubio, 1996; Carreon-Brook, 2006; Renton and Brightsmith, 2009).


The diet of the Scarlet Macaw includes fruit of Inga, Micropholis, Sterculia, Bursera, Dipteryx, Ficus, Spondias mombin, Hura, Eschweilera and Terminalia, as well as fruits and nuts several Palms; seeds of Jacaranda, Dialium, Caryocar, Hevea, Euterpe, Cedrela and Sapium; flowers and nectar, for example, of Ferrule and Erythrina.

Feeding in the canopy, usually in silence. May be associated with other parrot species where abundant food.


Size of the area of distribution (reproduction / resident): 10.200.000 km2

The Scarlet Macaw are distributed to a large extent of Central America, from the South of Mexico until Panama and apparently scattered in tropics of South America, from the South to the East of Bolivia.

In Mexico, formerly, were observed in the South of Tamaulipas, South of Veracruz, Oaxaca, Tabasto, Chiapas and Campeche and through the lowlands of Guatemala to the most remote areas of Belize, where the most recent records are from the Macal River.

Formerly widespread in Honduras, EI Salvador and Nicaragua; Costa Rica mainly in the Pacific slope.

In Panama confined to the Coiba island, to the southwest of the Azuero peninsula and a Chiriqui, in where the birds could formerly have flown from Costa Rica.

Also distributed in the tropical zone of Colombia including the The Magdalena River Valley, the the Caribbean coast and Amazon region with a recent record of Nariño.

In Venezuela, in Apure, Northeast of Monagas, Southwest of Sucre, widely distributed through the Plains and in Bolivar and Amazon.

A sizeable population in Guianas, throughout the Amazon basin of Brazil, to the East of Ecuador and to the East of Peru.

In the North and East of Bolivia, in Santa Cruz, Beni and possibly Pando. Away to the West of Los Andes.

The Scarlet Macaw make seasonal movements in search of fruit and is temporary visitor in some areas. Locally common but obviously in decline range-wide, especially around the centers of development, due to loss of habitat, trade and hunting, both as food and for obtaining their feathers; the population total of Mesoamerica probably not greater than 4.000 individuals.

Extinct the majority of former distribution area in Mexico (not registered in Tamaulipas Since 19th century) and persisting in only limited numbers in the Lacandon Jungle, Chiapas.

Generally rare in Guatemala, Although most common in the more remote areas, as the West's Petén.

Extinct in El Salvador. Generalized, Although rare on the Caribbean slope of Honduras; extinct on the slope of the Pacific. Almost extinct in the Pacific slope of Nicaragua, but persisting in the remote area of the Northeast. Formerly widespread on the slopes of the Caribbean from Costa Rica, now only in the Northeast; few localities in the Pacific slope (for example, the Osa Peninsula). Fairly common in Coiba, Panama. In Venezuela Local. Fairly common in the Amazon basin and Guianas, especially in the more remote areas. Fewer that the Red-and-green Macaw in Guyana and Venezuela.

Widespread in captivity, but rarely bred. CITES Appendix I.

Distribution of subspecies:

  • Ara macao cyanopterus

    (Wiedenfeld, 1995) – They inhabit the area of Mesoamerica between Mexico and Honduras; Currently there are two towns in the southeast of Mexico, one of just 50 individuals in the region of the Chimalapas, Oaxaca (Iñigo et to the 2004; Lazcano-Barrero obs. Pers.) and the other in the Lacandon Jungle in Chiapas, with an estimated population of between 150 and 250 individuals (Iñigo-Elias 1996 & Iñigo-Elias et to the. 2004, Garcia fair).

  • Ara macao macao

    (Linnaeus, 1758) – The species nominal.


• Current red list of UICN: Least concern

• Population trend: Decreasing

Given that the Scarlet Macaw they have an extraordinarily wide range - the largest among all the birds of the genus Ara -,and its population, Despite being apparently shrinking, do not fast enough to consider it vulnerable, the Red list of endangered species of the IUCN considers it to be a kind of least concern. However, the Agency drew attention in its “Conservation action plan and sampling of Psitacidae” with regard to the status of the subspecies a.. m. cyanoptera, Since its population had Yes declined rapidly in a period of twenty years. The species also appears from the 1 in August of 1985 in the Appendix I of the Convention on international trade in endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), It forbids the trade of this species within the signatory countries. Originally entered in Appendix III of this organization in 1976, amounted to Appendix II in 1981 and finally it came to Appendix I in before this date.

It is also protected by various laws and decrees national; for example, in Costa Rica, where he spent to deal with around the 80% of the national territory to only the 20% for the year of 1993. Because of its particularly precarious condition within the territory of Mexico, in this country it is regarded from 2000 a priority species for conservation. In Panama, also, is considered to be one of the two species of endangered birds of the country together with the Cotinga. For its part, in Peru is listed as Vulnerable species (VU) According to the Supreme Decree Nº 034-2004-AG from September of 2004. In Guatemala was enacted in 1989 Decree No. 4-89 of the Law of Protected Areas, same with which created the Guatemalan system of Protected Areas, that ensures the protection of species endangered within its territory, including the Scarlet Macaw. In Belize It is sheltered from 1992 by the Environmental Protection Act, It prohibits its trade or possession. Inside Brazil has a similar protection, Since its trade locally or export or possession is not allowed, unless they are breeding or authorized zoos. In Colombia its criterion is «indeterminate» in the Colombian endangered species listing, so it is not considered endangered within that country, Although Yes it receives the protection of the various national laws. In Venezuela Yes it is considered a vulnerable species and is protected by the Protection law to the wildlife.

Among the main factors threatening the survival of this species are the habitat destruction because of deforestation, the oil industry and intentional burning; the fragmentation of populations, the commercial traffic of feathers, eggs and specimens as such to sell them as pets, as well as being a kind of inbreeding and low reproductive rate, and the specialization of the diet of some populations. The problem of the illegal trade It affected him greatly in the 20th century, where among 1975 and 1990 It is estimated that they exported around 1500 specimens. Until the mid of 1980, major exporting countries were those where the Scarlet Macaw reproduces naturally, as Bolivia, Guyana and Suriname. However, by the end of that decade countries as United States, Philippines and Canada they were already major exporters, to the have developed enough local breeding birds and to hold own trade. The main destination of the trade of these birds was always United States. In more recent years, the various national laws have banned the trade of this and other species of birds, Although this illegal practice has not completely eradicated. The major change that has occurred is that most of the birds traded now come from the reproduction in captivity, What is an advantage for buyers since they tend to be healthier and more domesticated birds.

Macao macaw in captivity:

Starting at the 16th century, following the Conquest of America, appeared the European interest to catch various species of parrots, including this one. The traffic of this and other species was growing due to their popularity as pets, by Macaw began to disappear from their habitat in some regions since the 19th century. Its value on the black market, that it can be several thousand dollars, It makes often a more profitable activity for local residents that agriculture, logging of precious woods or even drug trafficking. This is one of the main reasons that have contributed to its disappearance. In fact, the popularity of several species of macaws is such that these animals have become more quoted in the pet market, and they have overcome even the cats and primates.

Sources They point out that a female's Scarlet Macaw was still alive after 33 years in captivity, but it rarely flew probably due to its age; He grew up with a male from 32 years of age, during 22 years, until the two you almost 30 years of age. There are several anecdotal reports that indicate that these birds live longer, However, including a report of a Scarlet Macaw of 37,1 years and a live specimen of 64 years of age. In captivity, these animals have been known of raising starting from 8 years of age.

Some factors that make one Macaw very attractive pet they are your sociable behavior, their colorful plumage and their ability to learn to imitate words, Although it should be noted that this is not one of the species of macaws who better to develop this skill. In addition, It should be noted that «speaking» actually do not understand the meaning of what they say: to how much they relate the sound with some object or event, but never through a process of reasoning. Anyway, in general terms it is a bird very intelligent, with learning ability similar to that of a child aged between five and seven years.

On the other hand, precisely because it is highly social, In addition to that need plenty of space to exercise, It bustling and it has a beak and strong claws which are capable of damaging objects and even hurt people, It is not ideal to live as a pet, Although you can do, preferably in the company of other birds and above all of the same species, in aviaries and zoos right. In fact, is a bird easy to raise even for poultry farmers with little experience, and today it is one of the most common species for breeding in captivity around the world. Also, due to its curious nature and its excellent ability to learn tricks, It is a bird very common in zoos and amusement parks exhibitions.

In 1993, the Scarlet Macaw He was nominated to symbol of the fauna of Honduras and declared as the national bird of this nation, According to Executive Order No. 36-93 issued by the Honduran national Congress. This bird was also chosen as the mascot of the America's Cup 2007 held in Venezuela, which is representative of this country to carry the three colors of their national flag in their plumage. The name given to the pet was «Guaky», which wore the t-shirt color vinotinto's selection of football in that country, as well as eight stars on their wings, to highlight the allusion to the Venezuelan flag. More recently, the Scarlet Macaw began to be coined in the face of the coins of 200 weights Colombian that began to circulate in this country from 2012.

Hybrids of Ara macao

Cross speciesThe hybrid name

Ara ararauna


Ara chloroptera


Ara militaris


Ara ambiguus


Ara severa

Voren Macaw

Ara ararauna


Ara Catalina




Alternative names:

Scarlet Macaw, Red-and-yellow Macaw, Red-breasted Macaw, Red-yellow-and-blue Macaw, Scarled macaw (English).
Ara rouge, Ara macao (French).
Scharlachara, Arakanga, Hellroter ara, HellroterAra (German).
arara-boliviana, Araracanga, Arara-canga, arara-macau, arara-piranga, arara-vermelha, arara-vermelha-pequena, macau (Portuguese).
Guacamaya Macao, Guacamaya Roja, Guacamayo Macao, Guacamayo Rojo, Guacamayo Rosado, Guara roja, Guara Roja (Spanish).
Gonzalo, Guacamaya colorada, Guacamayo real, Guacamaya bandera (Colombia).
Guacamayo bandera (Venezuela).
Guacamayo escarlata (Ecuador).
Paraba rosada, Paraba siete colores (Bolivia).
Araranka (Guaraní).
Majá (Guahibo).
A-rá (Piaroa).
waama’ya (Wayú).

Carl Linnaeus
Carl Linnaeus

Scientific classification:

Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Genus: ARA
Scientific name: Ara macao
Citation: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Protonimo: Psittacus Macao

Scarlet Macaw images:


Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)


– Parrots of the World – Forshaw Joseph M
– Parrots A Guide to the Parrots of the World – Tony Juniper & Mike Parr
– Ara macao cyanoptera (Scarlet Macaw) By: Jesus Gomez pineapple and Jose a.. Valero Pérez


(1) – This has the appearance of a Scarlet Macaw, which have a variable amount of green in the wings. The exact pedigree of this zoo parrot may be known by the zoo By Travis Isaacs from Grapevine, TX, USA (zoo355Uploaded by snowmanradio) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(2) – Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao). Side view. It is raising one of its legs By Peter (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(3) – A Scarlet Macaw flying away from the photographe By The original uploader was Robert01 at German Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 of], via Wikimedia Commons
(4) – Scarlet Macaw at Diergaarde Blijdorp, Rotterdam, Netherlands By Jar0d [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(5) – Scarlet Macaw in Yucatan, Mexico By Tony Hisgett (originally posted to Flickr as Parrot 2) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(6) – Scarlet Macaw at Phoenix Zoo, USA By Khamis Hammoudeh (originally posted to Flickr as <3) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(7) – Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) by Heather Paul – Flickr
(8) – Guacamayo rojo by m.prinke – Flickr
(9) – Ara macao (Scarlet Macaw) Tarcoles, Costa Rica by Juan Zamora – Flickr
(10) – First edition of Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots. Originally a painting by Edward Lear [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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