Scientific Name: Ara macao
Scarlet macaws are just one of the 15 species of large parrots which include the blue and gold macaw and the military macaw.
It is said that the scarlet macaw was considered a sacred being to the Mayan people. In Mayan tradition, the scarlet macaw represented daylight and the rising sun.
STATUS: Scarlet macaws are listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); however, their numbers are declining due to loss of habitat and the exotic pet trade.
HABITAT: These macaws live in the humid regions of Mexico, south through parts of Central America, and into northern South America. They can be found in valleys – close to river and lagoons where they are often seen at clay licks, which provide an essential part of their diet and helps them in the digestion of some of the food they eat.
DIET: Scarlet macaws eat fruit, nuts and seeds, flowers, and sometimes insects or snails to supplement their protein intake.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: These macaws are a vivid red, or scarlet, with yellow upper wing coverts (top feathers) and dark blue flight feathers on their wings and the underside of their tails. Underneath their wings and tails are beautiful, dark red feathers with a hint of a metallic gold color. Their faces are white; the upper part of their bills is light gray and the bottom part is black. The legs and feet are also dark gray to black. Macaws have four toes‒ two facing forward and two facing backward (this is described as zygodactyl) ‒ which help them hold onto branches and food. Both the male and female look alike regardless of age, save for the fact that juveniles have dark irises and adults have yellow irises.
Scarlet macaws, like other macaws, are monogamous – meaning that they stay with the same mate until one of them dies or disappears. The females lay two to four white eggs in tree cavities and incubate them for roughly 25 days. The juveniles fledge (take their first flight) after about 100 days, but they stay with their parents for as long as a year before they strike out on their own.