Common Name: Macaw
Scientific Name: Genus Ara
Description: Macaws are large, colorful parrots with long tails, small eyes often surrounded by bare skin, and large hooked beaks capable of crushing nuts and seeds. Macaws are very long-lived. It is not unusual for macaws to live 60 to 80 years. The scarlet macaw above at the left hatched out just after World War II and is alive and well at Naples Zoo today. Interestingly, parrots have two toes that face forward and two that face back. This enables them to grasp objects quite well and bring food up to their beaks. This trait is known as zygodactyly.
Habitat: Forests and grasslands with trees.
Range: Mexico, Central and South America
Conservation: All species of macaws are listed on either Appendix I or II on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). At least one and possibly two species are extinct. As macaws are very intelligent, they are sometimes kept as pets but require specialized care and hours of attention for proper care. Smuggling of parrots for the pet trade as well as deforestation are significant problems. Their incredible longevity also can be problematic for most owners. For these reasons and others, the Zoo does not recommend macaws as pets for most people.
Recommended LINKS & BOOKS
new macaw conservation strategy is now succeeding in South America. Dr.
Charles Munn, one of Wildlife
Conservation Society senior conservationists is hiring ex-smugglers
and using their expertise to protect these beautiful birds instead. Dr.
Charles Munn has spearheaded many efforts to protect the habitat on which
his subjects depend. He helped create Bolivia's Madidi National Park,
home to more than 1,200 species of birds (the highest number recorded
for any park) and helped establish a 2.3-million-acre buffer zone around
Peru's Manu National Park -- one of the largest parks in the world.
The World Parrot Trust This group has protected dozens of rare parrot species. Consider joining them if you're a bird lover.
A textbook that has received highly complimentary reviews from many zoo and avian associations is The Large Macaws. With 25 chapters, 552 pages in a 9 x 12 format, 350 beautiful and informative color photographs (chosen from over 6000) and 70 superb anatomical illustrations this text is well worth having for anyone who cares for macaws, especially avian focused veterinarians. The price tag is not low, but it is a worthy investment in the life of a precious animal.
Thanks to James T. Dowling-Healey for assistance with this page.