Species: Ara chloropterus
The Red-and-Green Macaw is a large bird of the genus ara and belongs to the order of parrots. It is also called Green-winged Macaw. Its plumage is mostly red but the wings are blue and on their upper part there is a characteristic green band. Some blue feathers are mixed to the red ones on the tail. Except some loose and tiny red feathers, the face is naked. Typical of an ara is the strong and large bill. The upper beak is pale with a black tip, whereas the lower beak is completely dark colored. Its strong toes are gray. The gender can’t be told easily because females and males don’t differ in their appearance.
The Red-and-Green Macaw achieves a wingspan up to 125 centimeters and a weight up to 1700 grams and a totally body length up to 100 centimeters. Aside from the Hyacinth Macaw it is the biggest species of the macaw family.
Young Red-and-Green Macaws differ from adults. In contrast to old individuals their iris is brown not yellow and the lower beak isn’t black but gray.
Range and habitat:
The Red-and-Green Macaw occupies large regions in the North and the Center of South-America, for instance in Brazil, East-Bolivia, North-Paraguay or East-Peru. Furthermore they are found in Trinidad, Guayana and Surinam. Their choice of habitats varies from rain forests and wooded areas to open landscapes as savannas. They can be seen up to an elevation of 2000 meters above sea level. Every habit has to provide that the Red-and-Green Macaw can find enough save places in tree crowns for sleeping and resting. Warm temperatures are also very important.
Red-and-Green Macaws live in pairs and small family groups, which count 6 to 12 individuals. To feeding grounds they always fly together in larger groups up to 100 birds. Often other species of macaws are mixed under this group and sometimes it even happens that macaws of different species mate and get offspring.
The Red-and-Green Macaw search active after its predators. Mostly they are sitting calm in the trees and attentively watch their surroundings. However, predominately macaws have to relay on their sense of hearing in wooded areas because their predators are hard to find.
Before the group fly to the preferred food trees they stay in a save distance. Finally, if they couldn’t discover any predators, all macaws fly to the trees at the same time. Is there any hint of danger the Red-and-Green Macaws scream loud and leave the place gathered. Their flight is relatively fast but not in great height.
Vocalization is important for macaws to communicate with other birds. As social animals they spend a lot of time in interacting with their family members.
The diet of Red-and Green Macaws consists of fruits and nuts, especially Brazil Nuts. Sometimes groups of macaws plunder plantations. In addition the macaws gnaw at bark of deciduous trees in order to absorb fibers and vitamins.
Consuming this various food, poison sometimes comes up in the stomach. These little poisonings have to be neutralized. Therefor macaws often fly to steep faces out of clay and eat crumbs of the clay. This clayey food provides them the minerals they need.
Red-and-Green Macaws form strong pair bonds and stay together for their whole life. Breeding season starts in November and lasts until May. If enough food is available a second breed is possible. The red-and-green birds nest in holes in the upper parts of high trees. They trench it with their strong bill or use existing nest of other birds. They are also found in caves of cliffs or steep banks. Bark pieces and are used as bolster for the 1 to 3 eggs that the female lays. After approximately 28 days the young macaws hatch. The naked and blind hatchlings are only feed by their mother while the male feed the female. When they are older and have feathers they also get food from their father. After 12 weeks they leave the nest for the first time and start to try flying. The parents still care about their offspring. Later, the young birds stay in the family group until they are mature, but care for them self. They achieve maturity after 3 years.
The number of populations seems to increase. The total number of individuals has not been quantified but their range appears still large in spite of the declining. Therefor it is evaluated as Least Concern on the Red List for threatened species of the IUCN.
Factors for the decreasing populations are habitat destruction, land development and trapping for pet trade.
The Macaws and the humans
Humans were always fascinated by this beautiful and exotic colored bird. When humans started to domesticate macaws thousands of birds were trapped and exported, which caused a dramatic declining in the number of populations. Already in the Middle Age the ownership of parrots was a symbol of wealth and power. And also the training of these animals became a popular hobby. The trend spread and lead to commercial breeding in huge numbers. Macaws were popular because of their intelligence and curiosity, but humans mostly did not offer the birds proper living conditions: Often they were chained up with one leg. This wrong treatment often leads to self-destructive behavior as plucking feathers. Fortunately, in many countries the restrictions to own a Red-and-Green Macaw are very strict today. Indeed, many people still love to own and train these intelligent and playful birds.
- The very first breed of young macaws often dies because the parents are inexperienced.
- A macaw’s tongue is dry and has a bone inside it, which makes it an excellent tool for open nuts.
- Macaws can imitate sounds and words that they hear and often practice them until they get it right.
- Their strong beak is able to crush a human knuckle.
- Like humans are either right- or left-handed they tend to using one foot more than the other.
- Besides Woodpeckers and birds of the Corvidae family Macaws belong to one of the most intelligent order of all birds: Parrots.