Blue-Throated Macaw

Blue-Throated Macaw

Caninde macaw, Wagler's macaw

Ara glaucogularis
Population size
Life Span
50-80 years
Top speed
km/h mph 
g oz 
cm inch 
cm inch 

The blue-throated macaw (Ara glaucogularis ; previously Ara caninde ), also known as the Caninde macaw or Wagler's macaw, is a macaw endemic to a small area of north-central Bolivia, known as Los Llanos de Moxos. In 2014 this species was designated by law as a natural patrimony of Bolivia, where it is known as barba azull, which means 'blue beard' in Spanish. Until 2010, it was hunted by natives to make feathered "Moxeño" headdresses for "machetero" ritual dances.

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Recent population and range estimates suggest that about 350–400 individuals remain in the wild. Its demise was brought upon by nesting competition, avian predation, and a small native range, exacerbated by indigenous hunting and capture for the pet trade. Although plentiful in captivity, it is critically endangered in the wild and is protected by trading prohibitions.

The name "Wagler's macaw" is in honor of German herpetologist Johann Georg Wagler, who processed many of Johan Baptist von Spix's Brazilian collections at the Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich, and first described the blue macaws for a European readership in Monographia Psittacorum (1832).

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Blue-throated macaws are large colorful parrots native to Bolivia. They are one of the rarest in the world. Their upper parts are turquoise-blue, slightly duller on the crown and brighter on the rump. Underparts are largely bright yellow but the vent is pale blue. These birds have bare facial patches obscured by blue feather lines merging into blue lower cheek and throat, separated from the crown by a narrow yellow stripe and bare pink skin around the base of the large, black bill. Despite being plentiful in captivity, these beautiful and intelligent birds are critically endangered in the wild and are protected by trading prohibitions.



Blue-throated macaws are found in a small area of north-central Bolivia, known as Los Llanos de Moxos. They inhabit tropical grasslands, flooded savanna, forest islands, and corridors of forests along waterways.

Blue-Throated Macaw habitat map

Climate zones

Blue-Throated Macaw habitat map
Blue-Throated Macaw
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Habits and Lifestyle

Blue-throated macaws are social birds; they are most frequently seen in pairs, but also gather in small groups of 7 to 9 individuals and sometimes may roost in groups of 70. Their main mode of locomotion is flying, but they are also able to climb trees, maneuver along branches and walk on the ground. These birds are active during the day and usually, stay in one general area. Blue-throated macaws communicate mostly by sound. When they suspect danger, they emit a very loud alarming call and promptly fly off. These birds also communicate with each other with quiet caws.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Blue-throated macaws are herbivores (frugivores) and eat primarily fruit from large palms. They eat the mesocarp from ripe and nearly ripe fruit and also drink the liquid from very immature fruit.

Mating Habits

26 days
1 year
1-3 eggs

Blue-throated macaws are monogamous and form long-lasting pair bonds. They usually breed once a year but if the eggs or nestlings are lost, they may produce a second clutch in the same breeding season. Blue-throated macaws usually nest in cavities of palm trees preferring dead palms as they are hollowed out by large grubs after the tree has died. Breeding pairs don't reuse old nests and usually search for different nesting sites yearly. The female lays 1 to 3 eggs and incubates them for 26 days. The chicks are altricial; they hatch helpless, naked, with closed eyes, and weigh approximately 18 g. The nestlings fledge at 13 to 14 weeks but remain dependent upon their parents for food until they are capable of foraging by themselves. They usually stay with their parents for up to a year. During this time, the parents will skip an entire breeding season. Blue-throated macaws reach reproductive maturity and start breeding at about 5 years of age.


Population threats

Blue-throated macaws have a very small population and are on the verge of extinction in the wild. These beautiful birds are threatened by nesting competition, avian predation, and a small native range, exacerbated by indigenous hunting and capture for the pet trade.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Blue-throated macaw population size is estimated to be around 208-303 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

Blue-throated macaws help to disperse seeds of fruit they feed on and also act as an important food source for local predators.


They are relatively easy to find in captivity, and the captive population consists of about 1000–1100 individuals. Individuals are kept in several zoos around the world, among them the Santa Cruz zoo in Bolivia. Captive blue-throated macaws have successfully hybridized with the military macaw, producing offspring known by aviculturists as Corrientes macaws.

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Several breeding and conservation schemes in zoos have now been set up to save this species. Other projects have been started to protect the remaining wild population, but at present, numbers are still decreasing.

In the wild, within the palm groves of Bolivia, birds nest in tree hollows created in dead palm trunks, rotten knot-holes and dead limbs of trees. There is some evidence that parents maintain the third chick of a clutch with minimal food as an insurance against the loss of the older dominant chicks. If disaster should befall the larger chick, the parent can switch to feeding the youngest, and it will exhibit a constant growth curve from the day of active feeding. It is this physiological response that enables researchers to raise the third chick of a clutch in captivity and then return them to the wild nests when they are nearing fledge.

Blue-throated macaws are early nesters and utilize these rare resources of nest holes before the other macaws are in breeding condition.

The blue-throated macaw is sometimes, albeit uncommonly kept as a pet companion parrot. When tame, it tends to be an outgoing, docile and affectionate bird, even cuddly with humans in some circumstances. An intelligent bird; like most parrots, it requires several hours outside its cage every day and regular social interaction with humans or other birds in order to remain healthy, although it is sometimes known to bully other birds kept alongside it. The species is known for its predilection for damaging and disassembling its keeper's property, as well as opening and escaping from its cage if left unsupervised. It may be less noisy than other large macaw species and while it is not known for its talking ability, it may learn to mimic a few words. The World Parrot Trust recommends that the blue-throated macaw be kept in an enclosure of 15 metres in length and that this species should not be kept indoors permanently. It may live for over 50 years in captivity.

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Fun Facts for Kids

  • In 2014 the Blue-throated macaw was designated by law as a natural patrimony of Bolivia, where it is known as barba azul, which means 'blue beard' in Spanish.
  • Until 2010, Blue-throated macaws were hunted by natives to make feathered "Moxeño" headdresses for "machetero" ritual dances.
  • On the face of the Blue-throated macaw there is a sparsely feathered patch of skin near the base of the bill that has 5-6 horizontal stripes of blue feathers; these are unique for every Blue-throated macaw and can be used to individually identify adults.
  • Adult Blue-throated macaws have yellow irises and the juveniles have brown irises. The eye color of a nestling is initially black and changes to brown soon after the eyes open. Between 1 and 3 years old, their eyes will turn grey, and then white. As the macaw matures, the iris turns yellow and the amount of gold increases with age after 10 years.
  • Blue-throated macaws live in a very small range and every breeding season nest in new cavities. For this reason, they often compete for nesting holes in trees with Blue-and-yellow macaws, Green-winged macaws, Scarlet macaws, large woodpeckers, toco toucans, barn owls, bats, and even bees.
  • When Blue-throated macaws need to clean their beaks after eating fruits, they do that in Tabebuia trees and cause some damage to the branches with their hard beaks.

Coloring Pages


1. Blue-Throated Macaw on Wikipedia -
2. Blue-Throated Macaw on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

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