The Scarlet macaw (Ara macao) is a large Central and South American parrot, a member of a large group of Neotropical parrots called macaws. It is native to humid evergreen forests of the Neotropics. In some areas, it has suffered local extinction, but in other areas, it remains fairly common. Like its relative the Blue-and-yellow macaw, the Scarlet macaw is a popular bird in aviculture as a result of its striking plumage.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A frugivore is an animal that thrives mostly on raw fruits or succulent fruit-like produce of plants such as roots, shoots, nuts, and seeds. Approx...
Seed predation, often referred to as granivory, is a type of plant-animal interaction in which granivores (seed predators) feed on the seeds of pla...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
In zoology, a nectarivore is an animal that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of the sugar-...
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some anima...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
Oviparous animals are female animals that lay their eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother. This is the reproductive...
Zoochory animals are those that can disperse plant seeds in several ways. Seeds can be transported on the outside of vertebrate animals (mostly mam...
Monogamy is a form of relationship in which both the male and the female has only one partner. This pair may cohabitate in an area or territory for...
Flocking birds are those that tend to gather to forage or travel collectively. Avian flocks are typically associated with migration. Flocking also ...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
The very colorful scarlet macaw is a large parrot. The plumage is predominantly scarlet, with light blue feathers on tail covert feathers and rump. The longer upper wing coverts are colored yellow, the upper sides of flight feathers on the wings are a dark blue, and so are the ends of their tail feathers. The undersides of the tail flight feathers and wings are dark red with the iridescence of metallic gold. These macaws have bare white skin surrounding their eyes and as far as the beak. Their upper beak is mostly pale, while the lower is black. Males and females look the same, and the only difference between young birds and adults is that the former have dark eyes while the latter have light yellow eyes.
Scarlet macaws are native to the humid evergreen forests of the American tropics in Central and South America, including Mexico in the east, Guatemala, Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Amazonian Peru. They inhabit humid lowland subtropical rainforests, open woodlands, mangrove vegetation, river edges, and savannas.
Scarlet macaws are diurnal birds that gather in flocks at night. In the morning they will often fly a long distance to find food, flying in small groups or pairs, often calling to each other in hoarse raucous voices. They make nests in tree hollows. If in their nest and danger presents itself, they will cautiously examine the scene until the danger has gone. If their nest is directly threatened, the birds quietly escape to a place of safety. Scarlet macaws often use their left foot when handling food and grasping other objects. They communicate by means of a range of postures and vocalizations.
Scarlet macaws are herbivores. In the wild, these birds like to eat mostly nuts, fruits, and seeds, some large, hard seeds amongst them. Sometimes they are seen eating clay at river banks. They now and again supplement their diet with flowers and nectar. They also love to eat insects and larvae. They are seen feeding heavily on bugs, snails, and foliage.
Scarlet macaws are monogamous and they bond for life. Once they have formed a pair, they are hardly ever seen alone, except to feed while the other bird incubates the eggs. Mates show affection by mutual preening and licking each other's faces. About every one or two years breeding occurs. 2 to 4 rounded, white eggs are laid, and are incubated for around 24 to 25 days. It is mainly the females who incubate the eggs. The young stay with the adults for up to one to two years. Males and females both care for the chicks. The parents do not raise another clutch until the first chicks have become independent. Young Scarlet macaws become reproductively mature by 3 or 4 years of age.
The species is declining due to habitat loss, being hunted for feathers and food, and capture for sale as pets. Their habitat is threatened by forest destruction. Poachers will cut down a tree with a macaw nest to get to the young, which limits the number of nesting places and thus the number of chicks raised. Nine out of the sixteen macaw species, including scarlet macaws are listed in Appendix I of CITES and classified as LC, i.e. least concern on IUCN’s Red List.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Scarlet macaw population size is around 20,000-50,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
Scarlet macaws are important as seed eaters of large tree fruits. They may have an impact on the generation of species of forest trees.
The Scarlet macaw has been bred in captivity for a long time, first at Paquime in Northern Mexico in the 11th century. The Scarlet macaw today is in captivity worldwide, mostly in the Americas. People pose a threat to this species but they can also help their population in that captive techniques developed in the pet trade can have a positive effect on wild populations, as where there are low macaw populations, "extra" chicks that would normally die in the nest can be reared by humans and released back into the wild.