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Scarlet Macaw

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Photograph courtesy of Kjetil Schjolberg

A large bill with the upper mandible whitish with black sides and the lower mandible black. The eyes are between white and yellow. The bare face is whitish with faint red lines. Overall the plumage is scarlet. The median upper wing coverts are yellow with green tips. This feature is most noticeable when the bird is perched. The flight feathers are blue, with light blue on the rump, the upper tail coverts and the under tail coverts. The red tail is long, between 30 cm and 40 cm with the underside being red, the outer feathers tipped blue and the inner tail feathers all blue. The feet are dark gray.

Both sexes are alike but males have slightly longer tails and larger bills. The immature have a shorter tail with the lower mandible being lighter and the eyes brown. The adult size is between 32 - 37 inches (81 - 94 cm) and weight is approximately 2.6 lbs. (1.2 kg).

The Scarlet Macaw is similar to the Red and Green Macaw but smaller with a longer tail. The Red and Green Macaw is a darker red with green wing coverts as opposed to the yellow wing coverts on the Scarlet Macaw. The tail on the Scarlet Macaw is mainly red while the Red and Green Macaw has a mainly blue tail.

This Macaw is very rare in the wild in Trinidad. Its natural habitat is lowland areas under 1,000 metres, varying widely from forest to savannahs with tree clumps to cultivated areas bordered by trees. Similar to other parrots and macaws they roost in communal groups and are most active in the morning just after sunrise as they move out to their foraging areas. Their flight is swift and direct with powerful wingbeats accompanied by loud harsh "RAAAAH" flight calls. In most instances these Macaws are seen in pairs (even in flocks) as they form powerful pair bonds for life. They nest in the hollowed areas of trees in the upper canopy with the female incubating the eggs and both parents caring for the young. The immature remain with the parents for an extended time even after leaving the nest.

Scarlet macaws primarily eat fruit and nuts, and will occasionally supplement their diet with nectar and flowers. The majority of the fruit eaten is ripe fruit but at times they will eat unripe fruit. To remove toxins in unripe fruit they visit clay banks and feed on the mineral soil to neutralize the toxins. Although very raucous when flying, they are very quiet when feeding. In their feeding areas they will associate with Blue and Yellow Macaws and with Red and Green Macaws.

The loss of habitat and poaching for the wild life trading are serious threats to the continued existence of this species.

Family - Macaws

Latin Name  Ara macao

Range - Mexico south through Central America to South America, including Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela

 

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Photograph courtesy Karl Mayer

 

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References

Mijal, M. 2001. "Ara macao" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Ara_macao.html.

Lexicon of Parrots - http://www.arndt-verlag.com/neotrop.htm

Birds of Venezuela. Steven L. Hilty. 2003, Christopher Helm, London

A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. 2nd edition, Richard ffrench. 1992, Helm, London

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All photographs (unless otherwise stated) are the property of Brian Ramsey. No portion of the material on this site, including the photographs, may be reproduced without the express written consent of Outdoor Business Group Limited and Brian Ramsey. The permission of the other owners of the photographs must also be obtained for use.   

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Last modified: February 16, 2008