Blue and Gold Macaw - Ara Ararauna - Least Concern
The blue and yellow macaw (Ara ararauna), 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 (especially varzea, but also in open sections of terra firme or unflooded 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.
These birds can reach a length of 76–86 cm (30–34 in) and weigh 0.900–1.5 kg (2–3 lb), making them some of the larger members of their family. They are vivid in appearance with light blue feathers on the top of their wings, and torso, and darker on the tail—and halfway on top of their head; the frontmost half of the top of their head is covered with lime feathers. On the bottom of these aforementioned areas of their body are light orange feathers. Their beak is black, as well as the feathers under their chin. Its feet, save for the talons, are of a gray color. The bird has white skin, with its face having nearly no feathers beside a few black ones spaced apart from each other forming a striped pattern around the eyes. The irises are light yellow. Blue-and-yellow macaws can live from 30 to 35 years in the wild, and reach sexual maturity between the ages of 3 and 6 years.
Little variation in plumage is seen across the range. Some birds have a more orange or "butterscotch" underside color, particularly on the breast. This was often seen in Trinidad birds and others of the Caribbean area. The blue-and-yellow macaw uses its powerful beak for breaking nutshells, and for climbing up and hanging from trees.
Distribution and Habitat
This species occurs in Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. The range extends slightly into Central America, where it is restricted to Panama. Although they were nearly wiped out in Trinidad due to human activity during the 1970s, a recent program of reintroduction has proved successful. Between 1999 and 2003, wild-caught blue-and-gold macaws were translocated from Guyana to Trinidad, in an attempt to re-establish the species in a protected area around Nariva swamp. A small breeding population descended from introduced birds is found in Puerto Rico, and another has inhabited Miami-Dade County, Florida, since the mid-1980s.
The blue-and-yellow macaw generally mates for life. They nest almost exclusively in dead palms and most nests are in Mauritia flexuosa palms.The female typically lays two or three eggs. The female incubates the eggs for about 28 days. One chick is dominant and gets most of the food; the others perish in the nest. Chicks fledge from the nest about 97 days after hatching. The male bird's color signals readiness for breeding. The brighter and bolder the colors, the better the chance of getting a mate.
The blue-and-yellow macaw is on the verge of being extirpated in Paraguay, but it still remains widespread and fairly common in a large part of mainland South America. The species is therefore listed as Least Concern by BirdLife International. It is listed on CITES Appendix II, trade restricted.
Even well-tended blue-and-yellow macaws are known to "scream" for attention, and make other loud noises. Loud vocalizations, especially "flock calls", and destructive chewing are natural parts of their behavior and should be expected in captivity. Due to their large size, they also require plentiful space in which to fly around. According to World Parrot Trust, an enclosure for a blue-and-yellow macaw should, if possible, be at least 15 m (50 ft) in length. Captive macaws, kept with good diet, exercise, and veterinary care have been recorded to live 60 or more years. People considering a macaw as a companion parrot must be aware of this and consider that the bird may outlive the owner.