I was trying to think of a bird to write about today, and could not think of anything that captured my attention. Luckily, one of my friends is visiting, so I asked her to list some birds. The first few I’d already written about, but then she mentioned parrots, and I realized I’ve haven’t ever blogged about a species of parrot. So today I’m going to fix that, by writing about the red and green macaw.

Red and green macaws can be found in northern and central South America. In the north, they live in rainforests while in the southern parts of their range the macaws tend to be found in drier, more open areas. They require some kind of cavity for nesting, which usually is in a tree, though rock faces may be used. The red and green macaw is a member of the genus Ara, which is comprised of eight species of macaws that all live in Central and South America.

A close-up of a red and green macaw showing the tell-tale red stripes around the eyes.
Image By Tom Woodward – originally posted to Flickr as IMG_6422, CC BY-SA 2.0

With a wingspan of 125 cm and body length of 95 cm, the red and green macaw is the largest member of the genus Ara, and the second largest bird in the macaw family. They are primarily red, with green and blue feathers on its wings. The macaw has lines of small red feathers surrounding its eyes, a trait which distinguishes it from the similar scarlet macaw. Both males and females sport bright and beautiful feathers, and there is little sexual dimorphism in the species.

The red and green macaw feeds mostly on fruit and nuts. It uses its strong beak to crack open the hardest of shells, and can generate a force of 48 pounds per square inch. To avoid competing with other forest animals macaws tend to pick out underripe fruits and nuts, which are avoided by other species because they taste bad and are often toxic. In order to save themselves form poisoning, red and green macaws often snack on clay-rich soils, which help neutralize any toxins from their diet.

They’re called red and green macaws, but I see a whole lot of blue… Image By Emmanuel FAIVRE – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Red and green macaws travel in pairs, or in flocks of pairs, though they can congregate in large numbers to consume soil. They mate for life, which can be fairly long (up to fifty years). Females lay two to three eggs which hatch in four weeks. Chicks leave the nest after three months.

Due to their beautiful plumage and high intelligence, red and green macaws are popular in the pet trade. Thanks to this and habitat loss in its range, numbers are declining. The species is still classified as least concern, however, because of its large range and large population. Hopefully things stay that way and this pretty bird can stick around for a while.

Cover image By Tony Brierton from Still here…, Ireland – Scarlet Macaws Uploaded by Snowmanradio, CC BY-SA 2.0