Military macaw (Ara militaris)

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Military macaw in flight
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Military macaw fact file

Military macaw description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusAra (1)

A popular cage bird, the military macaw’s wild population is rapidly diminishing as more and more birds are being captured for the pet trade (1). Military macaws have bright green plumage, with vibrant red head feathers and a black beak. Blue and red tail feathers and bright blue flight feathers add to this bird’s colourful appearance, and make it easy to understand why it is such a popular pet (2).

Spanish
Guacamayo Militar, Guacamayo Verde.
Size
Length: 70 cm (2)
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Military macaw biology

Usually found in pairs or in small flocks of up to ten birds (6), the military macaw feeds on seeds, nuts, berries and fruit (2). Roosts consisting of far larger numbers of birds are found on cliffs or in large trees (6). The breeding season in Mexico is in June, when the military macaw lays a clutch of two to three eggs (5). These eggs are generally laid in nests on or near cliff faces, which offers the nest and its inhabitants a little more protection (2).

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Military macaw range

The military macaw’s range is widespread but sporadic, occupying small areas of Central and South America, in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela (1).

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Military macaw habitat

The military macaw inhabits humid forests, wooded foothills and canyons. Nests are usually made on cliff faces or in large trees (4). Most military macaws are found between 500 and 1,500 metres above sea level (5).

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Military macaw status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Military macaw threats

The main cause of the drastic decline in numbers of these magnificent birds is the pet trade. In 1995 to 1996, 96 wild-caught birds were recovered from international trade (4). Another significant factor in the reduction of the number of military macaws is the loss of habitat (1), through deforestation for cattle ranching and agriculture.

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Military macaw conservation

The military macaw is protected by law in Venezuela (1) and is on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that trade in this species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances (3). Several of the healthy populations of the macaws are in reserves such as the El Cielo Biosphere Reserve in Mexico and the many other protected areas in the macaw’s range (4). As little is known about the size or ecological requirements of these populations, further studies and monitoring have been proposed (1). Controlling the capture of these birds for the pet trade could also slow the decline in populations (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
To learn more about a Whitley Award-winning conservation project for this species, click here.
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Find out more

For further information on parrots and their conservation see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Forshaw, J.M. (1978) Parrots of the World. Second Edition. David and Charles Ltd, Newton Abbot, Devon.
  3. CITES (July, 2007)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. BirdLife International (August, 2007)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=1549&m=0
  5. Juniper, T. and Parr, M. (1998) Parrots: A Guide to the Parrots of the World. Pica Press, East Sussex.
  6. World Parrot Trust (August, 2007)
    http://www.parrots.org/index.php/encyclopedia/profile/military_macaw/
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Image credit

Military macaw in flight  
Military macaw in flight

© Jurgen & Christine Sohns / www.flpa-images.co.uk

FLPA - images of nature
Pages Green House
Wetheringsett
Stowmarket
Suffolk IP14 5QA
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1728 861 113
Fax: +44 (0) 1728 860 222
pictures@flpa-images.co.uk
http://www.flpa-images.co.uk

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