Military macaw

(Ara militaris)


Military macaw IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

With a total length of 70 to 75 cm and a body weight ranging from 900 to 1130 g, the military macaw is clearly smaller than the very similar Buffon's macaw.

The plumage is largely green with a red forehead and blue in lower back and rump. The flight feathers are edged deep bluwe, the long and pointed tail is brownish-red tipped blue.

The bare facial skin is pinkish-white with narrow lines of blackish feathers. The bill is grey-black, the iris yellow, in young birds grey.

The breeding season appears to range form March to July. The birds nest in a tree hole, an old woodpecker nest, or on a cliff. The female lays 2 to 3 eggs and little is known about the chicks.

The military macaw feeds on seeds, figs and other fruits, nuts, berries and other vegetable mterial.

Did you know?
that there is another macaw species, which is very similar to the military macaw? It is the Buffon's macaw (Ara ambigua, which occurs from Nicaragua to Colombia. The two taxa are so similar that, in German, they are called "lesser" (militaris) and "greater" (ambigua) military macaw.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Ara militaris
Name (English) Military macaw
Name (French) Ara militaire
Name (German) Soldatenara
Name (Spanish) Guacamayo militar
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Derrick Coetzee



Range South America: Discontinuous range in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela
Habitat Dry forests, open woodland, gallery forests. Usually avoids tropical rain forest.
Wild population No data available, but decreasing (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 475 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Military 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


Photo Copyright by
Gary Denness

Why do zoos keep this animal

The military macaw is rated "Vulnerable" by IUCN and Birdlife International. Zoos therfore attempt to maintain a self-sustaining ex situ population. To this end, an International Studbook has been established under WAZA, and there are coordinated breeding programmes at the regional level.

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.