This magnificent and easily distinguished parrot is one of the largest species of Macaw. The Green-winged macaw has yellow eyes, surrounded by bright red bars, made up of rows of small feathers, covering the white patch on the bare skin. The chest, upper wings, upper back and head of the bird is red. Legs of the bird are colored with grey. Feathers of the middle wing are green with blue tips. The tail consists of motley plumage, surrounded by red feathers. The horn-colored upper beak is black on the sides while the lower beak is colored in black or dark grey.
The natural habitat of this bird is tropical rainforest, lowlands and foothills. They are mainly found in interior regions, rarely occurring in coastal areas. The area of their distribution is partly Central and South America, stretching from eastern Panama to Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, across western part of South America from eastern Ecuador and eastern Peru to northern and eastern Bolivia; then throughout eastern South America, including Parana and Mato Grosso in Brazil, reaching Paraguay and Formosa in northern Argentina.
They are social birds, living in pairs as well as gathering into family groups or small flocks, consisting of 6-12 individuals. In feeding trees and at clay licks, however, these birds can occasionally be seen in even larger flocks, mixing with other macaws and making a lot of noise, each bird demonstrating its full vocal range. Green-winged macaws are diurnal, spending most of the time under the dense cover of rainforest, where they find shelter as well as socialize and feed. They also spend a lot of time, playing and cleaning each other's plumage, removing lice and ticks from the feathers. If you see 3 or 4 macaws together, it will probably be a pair and their young. These birds are extremely shy, rarely seen in the foliage. Feeling danger, the bird immediately flies off, emitting loud screeches.
These birds have monogamous mating system. They mate once in a lifetime, remaining and travelling together even out of the breeding season. They breed in December, nesting high in tree hollows. Usually, 2-3 eggs are laid and incubated for 28 days. The female is on the nest while the male provides her with food, regurgitating it from his throat pouch. By the end of incubation period, the eggs begin hatching with intervals of 1-5 days. The parents feed the chicks by means of regurgitation, provided that the firstling is always fed prior to others. During the first 3-4 months of their lives, the hatchlings stay in the nest, where the parents feed and care for them, until the young leave the nest to find mates. Sexual maturity is reached at about 2-3 years old.
Deforestation is among major threats to this species, leading to loss of their natural habitat. The bird is frequently hunted by the indigenous tribes due to its motley-colored feathers. Along with other parrot species, this bird has been captured for the pet trade. Presently, this macaw is protected by CITES II, prohibiting its capture and trade. And finally, the Green-winged macaw is nowadays extinct in some parts of its original range such as Argentina.
The exact number of their total population is unknown, though presently decreasing. On the IUCN Red List, the Green-winged macaw is described as “fairly common” and classified as a species of Least Concern (LC).
Feeding upon a wide variety of tree fruits, they play a significant role in dispersing seeds of these fruits, thus sustaining many tree species.