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AnimalPhotography: Scarlet Macaw

Last weekend I was visiting the Bogota Zoo, which more than a zoo is a foundation that protects endangered species. There I had the opportunity to see the scarlet macaw for the first time.

In these lines, I want to highlight how wonderful it's to know about some animals, and in this case in particular to this beautiful bird that has captivated me.

The objective is to explore how the Scarlet macaw is, its physical description, food, reproduction, habitat and much more, that will delight those who like to enjoy and share these experiences of knowledge around these wonderful species.



The Scarlet macaw is known as Ara Macao.


It is classified within the order of psitaciformes or parrots, whose characteristic is to have strong peaks in the form of a hook, capable of crushing hard seeds such as jacaranda, licaria, guarea, among others, and nuts according to wet or dry seasons; You can also use it to dig, climb or defend yourself.

It is very light, so it does not affect your flight; It is composed of two parts, the upper one is bone-colored, and sometimes it is a little pink, with small black marks on each side where it joins with the head.


The Scarlet macaw feeds on insects, minerals that neutralize some toxins in its food that are difficult to digest, also some flowers, stems and leaves of certain plants such as Licania They begin their food from the early hours of dawn.


Physically they are birds that stand out for being beautiful animals that show several colors in their plumage; from a striking scarlet red, through shades like orange, and yellow feathers with contrasts of green tips, their remiges rumps and blue outer rectrices. With a naked facial area of white color, fleshy tongues, and peaks combined between white and blackish in its lower part; a very long and sharp tail, although the young ones have it a little shorter.

They have average measurements between 84 and 89 cms, and an approximate weight of between 900 and 1400 kilograms. It is listed as the third bird to hold more size within the 16 species that exist in its genus. The longest of its body is the tail, which can be up to 53cm, and the wings an average of 41cm.

Its legs are zygdactyly... (I heard this word for the first time in the foundation, when it was mentioned by one of the guides of the place) ...with 2 fingers towards forward and two backwards, able to hold and climb comfortably to the trees. With small strong legs and flexor muscles and tendons very developed to be able to keep upright.


On its wings, it has thick, rounded and sharp front edges on its back.
because most of its bones are hollow and flexible. With skull of small and fragile bones, and a slender and light sternum. Very important are also the air sacs spread throughout your body that makes it easier to take advantage of the air you breathe, to control body temperature in turn, because they do not have sweat glands.


They can fly daily up to 15 km or even more, for the territories where they live; and in times of seasonal migrations they can fly about 100 km, depending on the frequency of finding their food. They are very noisy when they fly, but silent when it comes to feeding.

When feeding, they use the left leg to manipulate the food while they are cut off with the other, as can be seen in the following photograph.


His eyes strategically placed laterally on the head and although the exposed part of the cornea is round and apparently small, it makes appreciate its large eyeball, covered around by a skin between white and pink, covered by red feathers.

Natural habitat

This bird spends most of its time in treetops, it lives in high, medium and tropical lowland jungles, open land and gallery forests, near margins of dry rivers or mangroves, savannahs and humid plains, both in mountainous areas and close to the coasts, can be found from the south-east of Mexico, through Central America and in South America in countries like Colombia, (whose best known species is macao ), Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana and Brazil, in Europe they have been introduced to the Netherlands.


Particularly in Colombia, they reach up to 500 meters above sea level.
Originally they were in the lowlands of the north in Cartagena, in the middle valley of the Magdalena River, to the south-west of Bucaramanga, and to the east of the plains in the west of Meta and Vaupés.

They direct their journeys in search of their food, according to the season of seasons, preferring to frequent the most enlightened and high part of the forests. There they eat, rest and sleep, building common roosts. They do it in this way because usually, they coexist in groups of 3 and up to 4 individuals, especially they like to join in order to share their food, which makes them very sociable nature. Usually they usually go in the mornings in search of food.


Reproduction and life cycle.

The reproductive time of these birds is between the months of November and May.

The females lay an average of 4 eggs, which are incubated for a period of 25 days. The chick that is born first will grow faster than the others, leaving the smaller ones at a disadvantage because they run the risk of starving. When they are born, they have closed eyes and very few feathers, their beak is clear and their nails are weak. They weigh up to 25 grams and their wings measure 1.8 cms.

Pairs of scarlet macaw can nest even in nests abandoned by another animal, when they turn 4, they choose their partner and they will stay together for life. , they can be quickly welcomed by another.They can take advantage of the nests of other birds such as woodpeckers, or other holes formed in trees like the ceiba, competing for their nests with other species such as toucans, iguanas and even wasps.


Can they be in danger of extinction?

The red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, has classified it as a species of minor concern, however, the most relevant factors that endanger this survive, are the devastation of their habitat, which is caused by deforestation, oil activities and forest fires, the decomposition of populations, the commercial traffic of feathers and eggs, the copies that are sold as pets for zoo entertainments or amusement parks and the fact that they are an inbred species with a low percentage of reproduction.

And now we discover more interesting things.

Cultural importance


In the pre-Colombian era, it was an example of adornment created with its feathers in the Amazonian civilizations. The Mayans considered it as the personification of the sun's fire that extended from the sky to the earth, like the sun's rays. Thus, it was associated with the energy that allows life on earth but also causes death. Its red plumage resembles the sun's rays, the yellow the sun itself and the blue the sky. They went to their representative deity as solutions to problems such as pests or droughts, because it was believed that this deity was the one who caused it.


In the modern era, its great value in illegal trade, makes it continuously a more profitable activity for local people than agriculture itself, logging or even drug trafficking These are the main reasons that have contributed to its extinction.

In this way, the popularity of these species of macaws has allowed them to be converted into the most valued in the pet market.

Something also to highlight, is that they have been a symbol in Honduras as their national bird in 1993, selected as representative of its fauna.

It was also a mascot of the America Cup that was held in Venezuela in 2007, representing in its plumage the three colors of its national flag.

Some common names given to the flag macaw in different countries.

Scarlet macaw It's called with its original name in Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Peru. Also in Colombia it is known as arará, real or red macaw. Guara roja, in Honduras. Scarlet Macaw in Mexico. Red or red limpet. And in Bolivia it can be called: it stopped red, pink, red, or seven colors.


Well, until now this beautiful discovery of the animal world has come to us that can give us a lot of examples, because of its capacity to survive in different places, the search for its food and the seeing that in spite of their dangers, they are faithful lovers of their own nature; Worthy of being seen by human eyes with love and respect.


Some info from WP - Info Zoofundación Santacruz taken as REFERENCE. The rest is totally mine!

Leya Argoz

Living and Loving Photography
Photos taken with Nikon Coolpix L830
Bogotá, Colombia

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