Scarlet macaw

(Ara macao)




Facts about this animal

With a total length of 81-96 cm and a body-weight of 1060-1123g, the scarlet macaws is one of the larger macaw species With its brilliant colours, very long pointed tail and wings, and large, powerfull bill it is unmistakable.

The plumage is mostly bright red. There is a large yellow patch on the wing coverts. The long wing and tail fwathers are mosly blue, the central tail feathers red, rump and tail coverts sky-blue.

The iris is yellow, in immature birds brown, the bare facial skin pinkish-white, the bill ivory and black, and the legs and feet dull grey.

Scarlet macaws travel in small parties, sometimes larger groups, to forage in the canopy. They use communal roosts in tall trees or mangroves for sleeping.

Scarlet macaws nest in large natural cavities in tall trees, sometimes in old woodpecker holes. A clutch consists of 1 to 2 eggs.

Did you know?
that macaws (and other parrots) occasionally eat clay found on the banks of rivers? This aids in digestion of the harsh chemicals such as tannins that are ingested when eating premature fruit. There are at least 120 known clay licks in the Amazon basin, some of them accessible for tourists and actively promoted as attractions. The largest known macaw assemblages of the world occur at five “commercial” clay licks in Peru, where the birds have become habituated to tourists and offer great opportunities for photographers.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Ara macao
Name (English) Scarlet macaw
Name (French) Ara rouge
Name (German) Hellroter Ara, Arakanga
Name (Spanish) Guacamayo macao
Local names Brasil: Arara piranga
Venezuela: Guacamayo bandera
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Paul Sapiano



Range Central and Northern South America: Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela
Habitat Subtropical and tropical dry and moist lowland forests
Wild population Between 20,000-49,999 (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 688 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Scarlet macaw


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 11D of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

Macaws are large, conspicuous and attractive birds, which are good ambassador species for the conservation of neotropical forests. They have an interesting anatomy and behaviour, and are thus also of educational interest. Zoos may keep macaws also for animal welfare reasons as they may have to take care of confiscated birds, or former pet birds.