Creatures of the Amazon
Scarlet Macaw

By Mike Collis

Ara macao

Of all our Creatures of the Amazon the Scarlet Macaw is without doubt the most colourful. Its range spreads from the lowest parts of Mexico through Amazonia and Brazil to Bolivia and Paraguay. Although living mainly on the mainland a few can be found on the island of Coiba in the Caribbean. They tend to inhabit subtropical rainforests, savannas, open woodlands and waterside locations including elevations up to 1,650 feet. The Scarlet Macaw suffered near extinction due to loss of habitat and the parrot trade. Despite this they are now quite widespread.

Red Macaws grow to about 32 inches in length (tip of beak to tip of tail) and like most macaws its tail is tapered to a point, although the tail of the Scarlet Macaw is generally longer than the other species of Macaw. The normal weight of an adult Scarlet Macaw is about 2,2 lbs. The colour of the feathers on the body is mostly scarlet but the upper wing parts are yellow, the top sides of the wings are dark blue like the tips of the tail feathers. The undersides of the wings are darker red with a golden sheen. The bare skin around the eyes is white. The upper part of the beak is fawny coloured the lower part being black. When adults the Scarlet Macaws have light yellow eyes while the younger ones have dark eyes. The call of the Scarlet Macaw is very loud, high pitched and sometimes rough squawks designed to reach others in their group throughout the rainforest.

The diet of the Scarlet Macaws is mainly fruit, seeds and nuts. Their strong jaws have no problem cracking open even the hardest nuts.

After mating the female lays 2 or 3 white eggs usually in a hole in a tree. Incubation lasts for about 5 weeks and the young fledge after about 90 days. The young stay close to their parents for up to a year,

Scarlet Macaws have been known to live up to 50 years in captivity, whereas in the wild about 40 years is all they can expect. They make good pets but can be a bit stubborn at times. Scarlet Macaws are not on the Threatened List but rated as "Of Least Concern".

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