Ara macao, Scarlet Macaw, is a member of the Psittacidae or parrot family. The Scarlet Macaw is one of the largest birds in the avian kingdom. It grows to about 34-38 inches in length and weigh between two to two and a half pounds.
Their tails comprise almost half of their body length. They have extremely powerful wings, and can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour.
The Scarlet Macaw is native to the Amazon Basin of South America. The largest and most colorful Scarlet Macaws are said to be found in Nicaragua.
Scarlet Macaws feathers are a bright red with yellow on the wings which cascades into the dark blue flight feathers. Their naked facial skin is white with no feather lines. The Scarlet Macaw tail is blue. Immature birds have dark eyes that change over time from black to gray to white to yellow.
The upper mandible is mostly tan in color and the lower is black. Sexes are alike; the only difference between ages is that young birds have dark eyes, and adults have light yellow eyes. They eye color is one way to both sex and estimate the bird’s age.
The Scarlet Macaw is on the endangered species list due to deforestation and the pet trade. The reported Belizean population of Scarlet Macaws in 1989 was 24 birds. However, since then a new population of over 100 birds was discovered south of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. They are still at risk and it is illegal to import them.
During breeding season, the Scarlet Macaw lays 2 to 4 white eggs in a tree cavity. The chicks hatch after 24 to 25 days. They fledge at about 105 days and leave their parents approximately one year later. The Scarlet Macaw generally lives an average of 50 years in captivity; however they have been known to live as long as 80 years.
In the wild, Scarlet Macaws are social birds that live in flocks in the tops of tall deciduous trees. They often fly in pairs or small groups. They dine on tropical fruits, figs, berries and nuts and during the breeding season they eat insects and insect larvae.
In captivity they are known to be loud birds with a hoarse call. They thrive on a pellet based diet and an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Daily care includes cage cleaning, grooming and bathing including occasionally trimming feathers and beaks, and fresh fruits, vegetables, and water. Daily exercise and time out of the cage are critical.
Scarlet Macaws are sensitive, cuddly, and entertaining birds. They can mimic human sounds and voices and learn a number of tricks. Scarlet Macaws require a variety of stimulation including toys, climbing tools, training, and plenty of human attention and interaction.
They can be destructive due to their powerful beak and natural tendency to chew. They require large cages, training, and daily exercise. They are considered to be more aggressive than other macaws and generally do not tolerate other birds, pets or small children. The Scarlet Macaw is best suited for experiences bird lovers.