Scientific Name: Ara militaris
The name “military macaw” is thought to derive from the fact that military personnel were the first to import these birds from Mexico into Europe.
Parrots are among the most colorful and talented birds in the world. There are more than 350 different parrot species, ranging in size from six-inch parakeets to three-foot-long hyacinth macaws.
STATUS: Military macaws are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to deforestation and capture for the exotic pet trade.
HABITAT: The military macaw can be found in arid woodlands, forested areas, and tropical rainforests of Mexico and South America. They usually nest in the tops of trees.
DIET: The macaw’s diet consists of fruit, nuts, seeds, berries, and vegetables.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The military macaw is considered the smallest of the large macaws, measuring 27 to 29 inches from the tip of the beak to the end of the tail. The military macaw is mostly green in color, with red feathers above the beak and in the tail. It has a white face, either feathered or bare, with black streaks, and blue tail and primary feathers (the big feathers at the end of the wings). Juveniles have the same colorations but are duller in shade. The beak, legs, feet, and talons are black. The eyes have a yellow iris.
That big, tough beak is used to break open fruit and nuts and to help when climbing or moving around in the tree tops. Macaws are zygodactyl, meaning they have two toes projecting forward and two backward. These strong, four-toed feet are great for climbing or holding onto a nut while the bird breaks it open with its beak.
Who's Making All That Noise?
Macaws are social animals and live in flocks of 20 to 40 birds. They are quite noisy—in fact, you can usually hear them before you actually see them in the trees. Their vocalizations are thought to be “conversations” between members of the flock. In the wild, macaws can live to the ripe old age of 60, and in captivity they can live to be 70 or even 80 years old. Macaws mate for life.