Extant distribution of the scarlet macaw
Psittacus macaoLinnaeus, 1758
The scarlet macaw (Ara macao) is a large red, yellow, and blue Central and South American parrot, a member of a large group of Neotropical parrots called macaws. It is native to humid evergreen forests of tropical Central and South America. Range extends from south-eastern Mexico to the Peruvian Amazon, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Brazil in lowlands of 500 m (1,640 ft) (at least formerly) up to 1,000 m (3,281 ft). It has suffered from local extinction through habitat destruction and capture for the parrot trade, but in other areas it remains fairly common.[ clarification needed ] Formerly it ranged north to southern Tamaulipas. It can still be found on the island of Coiba. It is the national bird of Honduras. Like its relative the blue and gold macaw, scarlet macaws are popular birds in aviculture as a result of their striking plumage.
Parrots, also known as psittacines, are birds of the roughly 393 species in 92 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea, the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos), and the Strigopoidea. Parrots have a generally pantropical distribution with several species inhabiting temperate regions in the Southern Hemisphere, as well. The greatest diversity of parrots is in South America and Australasia.
Macaws are long-tailed, often colorful New World parrots.
Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the tenth most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.
The scarlet macaw was formally described by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Psittacus macao.The scarlet macaw is now placed in the genus Ara (Lacépède, 1799), one of 6 genera of Central and South American macaws.
A species description is a formal description of a newly discovered species, usually in the form of a scientific paper. Its purpose is to give a clear description of a new species of organism and explain how it differs from species which have been described previously or are related. The species description often contains photographs or other illustrations of the type material and states in which museums it has been deposited. The publication in which the species is described gives the new species a formal scientific name. Some 1.9 million species have been identified and described, out of some 8.7 million that may actually exist. Millions more have become extinct.
Carl Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné, was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the "father of modern taxonomy". Many of his writings were in Latin, and his name is rendered in Latin as Carolus Linnæus.
The 10th edition of Systema Naturae is a book written by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus and published in two volumes in 1758 and 1759, which marks the starting point of zoological nomenclature. In it, Linnaeus introduced binomial nomenclature for animals, something he had already done for plants in his 1753 publication of Species Plantarum.
The two subspecies can be recognized by size and color detail in the feathers on the wings:
In biological classification, the term subspecies refers to one of two or more populations of a species living in different subdivisions of the species' range and varying from one another by morphological characteristics. A single subspecies cannot be recognized independently: a species is either recognized as having no subspecies at all or at least two, including any that are extinct. The term is abbreviated subsp. in botany and bacteriology, ssp. in zoology. The plural is the same as the singular: subspecies.
It is about 81 centimeters (32 in) long, of which more than half is the pointed, graduated tail typical of all macaws, though the scarlet macaw has a larger percentage of tail than the other large macaws. The average weight is about 1 kilogram (2.2 lb). The plumage is mostly scarlet, but the rump and tail-covert feathers are light blue, the greater upper wing coverts are yellow, the upper sides of the flight feathers of the wings are dark blue as are the ends of the tail feathers, and the undersides of the wing and tail flight feathers are dark red with metallic gold iridescence. Some individuals may have green in the wings.
Plumage refers both to the layer of feathers that cover a bird and the pattern, colour, and arrangement of those feathers. The pattern and colours of plumage differ between species and subspecies and may vary with age classes. Within species, there can be different colour morphs. The placement of feathers on a bird is not haphazard, but rather emerge in organized, overlapping rows and groups, and these are known by standardized names.
Scarlet is a brilliant red color with a tinge of orange. In the spectrum of visible light, and on the traditional color wheel, it is one-quarter of the way between red and orange, slightly less orange than vermilion.
Feathers are epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on dinosaurs and possibly other archosauromorphs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates and a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty. They are among the characteristics that distinguish the extant birds from other living groups.
There is bare white skin around the eye and from there to the bill. Tiny white feathers are contained on the face patch. The upper mandible is mostly pale horn in color and the lower is black. Juveniles have dark eyes; adults have light yellow eyes.
The beak, bill, and/or rostrum is an external anatomical structure of birds that is used for eating and for preening, manipulating objects, killing prey, fighting, probing for food, courtship and feeding young. The terms beak and rostrum are also used to refer to a similar mouth part in some ornithischians, pterosaurs, turtles, cetaceans, dicynodonts, anuran tadpoles, monotremes, sirens, pufferfish, billfishes and cephalopods.
It is frequently confused with the slightly larger green-winged macaw, which has more distinct red lines in the face and no yellow in the wing.
Scarlet macaws make very loud, high and sometimes low-pitched, throaty squawks, squeaks and screams designed to carry many miles to call for their groups.
The scarlet macaw can live up to 75or even 90 years in captivity, although a more typical lifespan is 40 to 50 years.
In May 2013 it was announced that a team of scientists, led by Dr. Christopher M. Seabury and Dr. Ian Tizard of Texas A&M University had sequenced the complete genome of the scarlet macaw.
A typical sighting is of a single bird or a pair flying above the forest canopy, though in some areas flocks can be seen. They may gather at clay licks.Scarlet macaws communicate primarily through raucous honks; however, vocal communication is highly variable, and captive macaws are known to be adept mimics of human speech.
Scarlet macaws eat mostly fruits, nuts and seeds, including large, hard seeds and sodium packed dirt.
While comparatively docile at most times of the year, scarlet macaws may be formidably aggressive during periods of breeding. Scarlet macaws are monogamous birds, with individuals remaining with one partner throughout their lives. The hen lays two or three white eggs in a tree cavity. The female incubates the eggs for about five weeks, and the chicks fledge from the nest about 90 days after hatching.and leave their parents about a year later. Juveniles reach sexual maturity at five years of age.
The South American range is extensive and covers the Amazon basin; extending to Peru east of the Andes, to Bolivia.In Bolivia, it is very present in the Aquicuana Reserve, located in the Beni Department, near the city of Riberalta, the Capital of the Bolivian Amazon.
In Central America, the range extends from extreme eastern and southern Mexico and Panama through Guatemala and Belize, the island of Coiba and infrequently on the mainland of Panama, and in Costa Rica in isolated regions on the Pacific Coast; the Nicoya Peninsula the Carara National Park and Peninsula de Osa.
The scarlet macaw has escaped or been deliberately released in to Florida, but there is no evidence that the population is breeding and may only persist due to continuing releases or escapes.
Scarlet macaws inhabit humid lowland subtropical rain forests, open woodlands, river edges, and savannas.
The habitat of scarlet macaws is also considered to have the greatest latitudinal range for any bird in the genus Ara, as the estimated maximum territorial range covers 6,700,000 km2. Nevertheless, the scarlet macaw's habitat is fragmented, and the bird is mostly confined to tiny populations scattered throughout its original range in Middle America. However, as they still occur in large numbers over most of their original range in South America, the species is classified by IUCN as least concern.
It is listed on CITES Appendix 1 due to predation for the pet and cage bird trade.Both subspecies are listed by USFWS as endangered.
The scarlet macaw is an early example of a parrot breeding in captivity. Captive breeding occurred in Northern Mexico at Paquime (also called Casas Grandes) and very likely Southwest New Mexico Mimbres Valley in the 11th century. Breeding pens, perches, bones, and eggshell fragments have been uncovered. The straightforward nature of scarlet macaw breeding and the value of their plumes in trade created a market for trade wherein the animals were used in religious rites north to the Colorado Plateau region.
Today the scarlet macaw is found worldwide in captivity, but is best represented in captivity in the Americas. Captive techniques developed from the pet trade have positively affected wild populations: in areas with low macaws populations, the "extra" babies that typically die in the nest may be reared by humans hands and released into the wild to bolster the population, as has been done by the Tambopata Macaw Project. Their captive diet, egg incubation, assisted hatching, hand rearing, co-parenting, parent-rearing, fledgling, maturation, and breeding are well understood within the avicultural community (AFA Watchbird magazine).
The birds can hybridize with other members of genus Ara in captivity, leading to hybrids. In the United States, hybrid scarlet macaws are created for their appearance and value in the bird trade. Hybrid scarlet macaws are also created because of fear of prosecution, as birds breeders find themselves potentially liable for enormous fines and felonies (i.e., Lacey Act) as their captive-bred pets are added to the U.S. Endangered Species List. As punishments are not given to those who sell or work with hybrid macaws, breeders are encouraged to mix genes to avoid punishment.
Spix's macaw, also known as the little blue macaw, is a macaw native to Brazil. It is a member of Tribe Arini in the subfamily Arinae, part of the family Psittacidae. It was first described by German naturalist Georg Marcgrave, when he was working in the State of Pernambuco, Brazil, in 1638 and it is named for German naturalist Johann Baptist von Spix, who collected a specimen in 1819 on the bank of the Rio São Francisco in northeast Bahia in Brazil.
The red-and-green macaw, also known as the green-winged macaw, is a large, mostly-red macaw of the genus Ara.
The blue-and-yellow macaw, also known as the blue-and-gold macaw, is a large South American parrot with mostly blue top parts and light orange underparts, with gradient hues of green on top of its head. It is a member of the large group of neotropical parrots known as macaws. It inhabits forest, woodland and savannah of tropical South America. They are popular in aviculture because of their striking color, ability to talk, ready availability in the marketplace, and close bonding to humans.
The hyacinth macaw, or hyacinthine macaw, or more commonly called the “Blue macaw” is a parrot native to central and eastern South America. With a length of about 100 cm (3.3 ft) it is longer than any other species of parrot. It is the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species, though the flightless kakapo of New Zealand can outweigh it at up to 3.5 kg. While generally easily recognized, it could be confused with the smaller Lear's macaw. Habitat loss and the trapping of wild birds for the pet trade have taken a heavy toll on their population in the wild, so the species is classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, and it is protected by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The blue-throated macaw, also known as the Caninde macaw or Wagler's macaw, is a macaw endemic to a small area of north-central Bolivia, known as Los Llanos de Moxos. In 2014 this species was designated by law as a natural patrimony of Bolivia, where it is known as barba azul, which means 'blue beard' in Spanish. Recent population and range estimates suggests that about 350–400 individuals remain in the wild. The main causes of their demise is capture for the pet trade. It is currently considered critically endangered and the parrot is protected by trading prohibitions.
The red-fronted macaw is a parrot endemic to a small semi-desert mountainous area of Bolivia. It is an endangered species; it has been successfully bred in captivity, and is available, if not common, as a pet. It is also sometimes known in the literature as Lafresnaye's macaw, named for the French ornithologist Frédéric de Lafresnaye, who was one of the first to describe the species.
The military macaw is a large parrot and a medium-sized macaw. Though considered vulnerable as a wild species, it is still commonly found in the pet trade industry. It is found in the forests of Mexico and South America. It gets its name from its predominantly green plumage resembling a military parade uniform.
The red-shouldered macaw is a small green South American parrot, a member of a large group of Neotropical parrots called macaws. The species is named for the red coverts on its wings. It is the smallest macaw, being 30–35 cm (12–14 in) in length. It is native to the tropical lowlands, savannah, and swamplands of Venezuela, the Guianas, Bolivia, Brazil, and far south-eastern Peru. It has two distinct subspecies, the noble macaw and the Hahn's macaw, and a possible poorly distinct third subspecies that has longer wings, but is otherwise similar to the noble macaw. The Hahn's subspecies is named for German zoologist Carl-Wilhelm Hahn, who in 1834 began compiling Ornithologischer Atlas oder naturgetreue Abbildung und Beschreibung der aussereuropäischen Vögel.
The yellow-collared macaw or yellow-collared macaw is a small mostly green Central South American parrot, a member of a large group of Neotropical parrots known as macaws. It has a bright yellow patch on the back of its neck/upper shoulders that gives the species its name. In aviculture, it is one of a number of smaller macaws often called "mini-macaws".
The great green macaw, also known as Buffon's macaw or the great military macaw, is a Central and South American parrot found in Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador. This species lives in the canopy of wet tropical forests and is highly dependent on the almendro tree . Two allopatric subspecies are recognized; the nominate subspecies occurs from Honduras to West Colombia, while Ara ambiguus guayaquilensis is isolated on the Pacific side of the continent in Ecuador, and possibly South-Western Colombia.
Ara is a neotropical genus of macaws with eight extant species and at least two extinct species. The genus name was coined by French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède in 1799. It gives its name to and is part of the Arini, or tribe of neotropical parrots. The genus name Ara is likely related to arara, the Portuguese word for an ara tricolor, itself derived from the Tupi word a'rara.
The Cuban macaw or Cuban red macaw was a species of macaw native to the main island of Cuba and the nearby Isla de la Juventud that became extinct in the late 19th century. Its relationship with other macaws in its genus was long uncertain, but it was thought to have been closely related to the scarlet macaw, which has some similarities in appearance. It may also have been closely related, or identical, to the hypothetical Jamaican red macaw. A 2018 DNA study found that it was the sister species of two red and two green species of extant macaws.
The thick-billed parrot is a medium-sized green and red parrot found in Mexico, that formerly ranged into the southwestern United States. Its position in parrot phylogeny is the subject of ongoing discussion; it is sometimes referred to as thick-billed macaw or thick-billed conure. In Mexico, it is locally called guacamaya ("macaw") or cotorra serrana. Classified internationally as Endangered through IUCN, the thick-billed parrot's decline has been central to multiple controversies over wildlife management. In 2018, the estimated wild population in Mexico is 1,700.
The Blue-winged macaw, in aviculture more commonly known as Illiger's macaw, is a species of macaw found in central and eastern South America. The second name is in honor of the German ornithologist Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger. It was previously placed in the genus Ara or Propyrrhura. Blue-winged macaws have been known to reach an age of 50–60 years.
The blue-headed macaw or Coulon's macaw is native to eastern Peru, north-western Bolivia, and far western Brazil. It has a total length of about 41 cm (16 in), making it a member of the group of smaller macaws sometimes known as the mini-macaws, which includes any species of macaw with a total length of 50 cm (20 in) or less. As in all macaws, its tail is long and pointed and the bill is large and heavy.
The Lesser Antillean macaw or Guadeloupe macaw is a hypothetical extinct species of macaw that is thought to have been endemic to the Lesser Antillean island region of Guadeloupe. In spite of the absence of conserved specimens, many details about the Lesser Antillean macaw are known from several contemporary accounts, and the bird is the subject of some illustrations. Austin Hobart Clark described the species on the basis of these accounts in 1905. Due to the lack of physical remains, and the possibility that sightings were of macaws from the South American mainland, doubts have been raised about the existence of this species. A phalanx bone from the island of Marie-Galante confirmed the existence of a similar-sized macaw inhabiting the region prior to the arrival of humans and was correlated with the Lesser Antillean macaw in 2015. Later that year, historical sources distinguishing between the red macaws of Guadeloupe and the scarlet macaw of the mainland were identified, further supporting its validity.
The Ara Project existed from 1992 to 2019 to conserve the two native macaw species of Costa Rica: the great green macaw and the scarlet macaw. In 2019 it split into two new entities, the Macaw Recovery Network and the Ara Manzanillo.
The Tambopata Macaw Project is a long term research project on the ecology and conservation of macaws and parrots in the lowlands of south-eastern Peru under the direction of Donald Brightsmith of the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center at Texas A&M University. The project has been working with wildlife and local communities since 1989. The long term research and monitoring has provided many insights into various aspects of parrot and wildlife of south-eastern Peru. Macaws are among the most effective flagship species for ecosystem conservation in the Amazonian rainforest.
The Catalina macaw is a hybrid between the blue-and-gold macaw and scarlet macaw. Catalina macaws are hybrid, so they don't have a true scientific name. The best way to represent these birds in taxonomy is by the expression Ara ararauna × Ara macao.
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