Ara macao Order: Psittaciformes Family: Psitticidae Scarlet Macaw
The class Aves comes from the Latin for both birds and flight.
Natural History Information
Range and Habitat
- Scarlet macaws are native to Central and South America. They inhabit woodland areas and the humid lowland tropical rainforest (up to 3,000 feet). These macaws spend most of their time in the treetops.
- Average two to three pounds
- 30-37 inches long (tail is about 20 inches, making up 2/3 of its length)
- Wingspan: 44-47 inches
- In their native habitat: 20- 40 years
- Under human care: up to 100 years (average 65-80)
- Macaws are important seed dispersers
- In their native habitat
- hard shelled seeds, fruits, nuts, figs, berries, vegetable matter
- insects and larva during breeding season
- clay from the river beds (no one is sure why they do this but it is hypothesized that the clay helps them digest poisonous chemicals in unripe fruit they eat)
- Akron Zoo: depending on her weight approximately 20g Harrison’s Course pellets, 20g fruits, 20g vegetables, and 10g seeds and nuts.
- Akron Zoo: macaw is weighed daily
- Behavioral Relevant Information
- Parents can be very aggressive if their nest is approached
- At Akron Zoo, we are careful to not provide too much “nesty” enrichment (such as hide houses and nesting material) during our macaws hormonal periods
- Behavioral Enrichment
- Akron Zoo: our macaw enjoys chewing up cardboard strips
- Akron Zoo: since parrots are highly intelligent, our macaw is enriched daily, rotating through different categories such as rest, self- directed behaviors (such as preening), social (with either humans or other animals), forage/ item manipulate, or explore/ investigate.
- Other Enrichment Resources
- Behaviors Trained
- Akron Zoo: step up (onto a hand or a wooden t perch), scale, kennel, target, wave, spin, shapes (can place shaped blocks into their corresponding holes), stack (can stack rings on a pole), basketball (can drop a ball in a cup), paint (holds a paintbrush)
- Reinforcers used & schedule of reinforcement
- Akron Zoo: regular diet is used for reinforcement (macaw prefers Harrison’s and seeds/ nuts)
Colony or Breeding Management
- Parrots as pets- loud, require a lot of attention, long lived, behavioral issues, etc.
- Know where your parrot came from- wildlife trade vs captive bred
Threats and Conservation Status
- CITES appendix I endangered species
- Decline due to habitat loss for logging and agricultural development as well as trapping for the pet trade
- Preyed upon by harpy eagles and orange- breasted falcons
Interesting Natural History Information
- There are two types of scarlet macaw, one from Bolivia and one from Honduras. The Bolivian scarlet is larger and darker. The yellow band on the Honduran scarlet is wider and not tipped with green. Scarlets under human care are a combination of these two types.
- There are 18 species of macaws.
- Males and females mate early in life and stay together for their entire lives.
Did you know…
- Scarlet macaws are the national bird of Honduras.
Handling & Presentation Tips
Public Contact and Interaction Guidelines
- Akron Zoo: no birds can be touched by guests. The macaw’s trainers are working on behaviors that allow her to interact with guests without them needing to be too close, such as target and stack.
- Akron Zoo: a kennel cover should be used when transporting to and from programs. Cover should be removed from the door and sides for ventilation while in the van.
- Macaw is approved for outdoor program use or enrichment between 65-85ºF
Comments from the Rating System
Contributors and Citations
- Akron Zoo