Description: The stunning Scarlet Macaw is a large tropical macaw that can measure up to 36 inches in length. Males and females are mostly bright red with a bare, white face, and massive, hooked bill (which has a white upper mandible and black lower mandible) specially designed for crushing nuts. The wings are yellow on top and light blue on the edges. The rump is also light blue. The tail is extremely long (up to half of the bird’s total length) and red. Scarlet Macaws are social birds often seen in small flocks flying near the forest canopy. Males and females form life-long partnerships and are often observed preening each other.
Scarlet Macaws are popular, though expensive pets, kept by thousands of people across the world. They are demanding in captivity and require constant attention and a large enclosure for them to spread their wings and play. They are extremely loud in captivity and in the wild, and their “screams” can carry several miles. It is illegal to take a Scarlet Macaw from the wild without a permit, though thousands are taken illegally and sold in the illegal pet trade. These birds can live up to 75 years in captivity, but average between 30 and 50 years in the wild.
Diet: Scarlet Macaws feed on fruit, large seeds, and nuts.
Habitat/Range: The Scarlet Macaw inhabits dense rainforests, river edges, and savannas from southern Mexico, through Central America, to much of the Amazon region of northern South America. Large flocks of these birds can also be found on the islands of Coiba, off the Pacific coast of Panama.
Breeding: Female Scarlet Macaws lay two or three eggs in a tree cavity, which hatch in about four weeks. Both males and females attend to the chicks, who fledge after three months. Young macaws are very dependent on their parents, and stay with them for up to a year before leaving.
Status:Though not officially considered a threatened species, populations of Scarlet Macaws continue to decline in the wild through parts of their range. Hunting, the illegal pet trade, and deforestation have contributed to the decline. Nevertheless, the Scarlet Macaw can still be found in considerable numbers in parts of its range.