Meet the Birds

Species: Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)

Species: Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus)

Wild Population

20,000 – 50,000; total Central American population no more than 4000.

Where found

A. m. macao: Costa Rica on Pacific slope; S Panama, on Azuero Peninsula and Isla Coiba, then scattered through N South America, east of Andes, from Rio Magdalena valley, Colombia to Guianas and south to E Ecuador, E Peru, E Bolivia and N Mato Grosso, Brazil.

A.m. cyanoptera: Oaxaca and S Tamaulipas, SE Mexico, scattered to NE Nicaragua.

History

The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is found in lowland rainforest and savanna, in Mexico remote portions of humid forest, on the Pacific slope in Honduras, in Costa Rica deciduous and humid forest, Colombia in lowland rainforest and gallery forest and Venezuela in rainforest and savanna. Although the Scarlet Macaw is listed by IUCN as least concern there is evidence of a population decline in the wild. It is listed by CITES as Appendix I. The declines in this species' population are due to habitat loss and fragmentation (expected to lose 20-35% of habitat within its range over 40 years (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011)), the wild bird trade and hunting for feathers and food.

Threats

  • Exploitation for the former wild bird pet trade
  • Habitat loss and fragmentation due to logging and agriculture
  • Illegal trapping for in-country trade, food and feathers

Ecology

The Scarlet Macaw is found in lowland rainforest and savanna, in Mexico remote portions of humid forest, on the Pacific slope in Honduras, in Costa Rica deciduous and humid forest, Colombia in lowland rainforest and gallery forest and Venezuela in rainforest and savanna. Birds are encountered in pairs, parties of 3-4 or flocks up to 30 individuals as they forage on fruits, fruits and nuts of various palms, and seeds, flowers and nectar.

Wild Population

Fewer than 1000 individuals.

Where found

A.a. ambiguus: Caribbean lowlands of E Honduras to NW Colombia.

A.a. guayaquilensis: W Ecuador, Esmeraldas; smaller numbers in the Cordillera de Chongon-Colonche, Guayas.

History

Once prevalent throughout the entire Caribbean, Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) populations have declined alarmingly in recent years due to poaching and deforestation, in particular the cutting of Mountain Almond trees. BirdLife International states that over the past 50 years global populations have been reduced by half. A census conducted in the Cordillera de Chongon Colonche and Esmeraldas Province in Ecuador in 2010 found only 8 birds, with the current population in all of Ecuador suspected to be 30-40 birds (E. Horstman in litt. 2012). Recent conservation efforts in Costa Rica have stabilized numbers with less than 300 birds and an estimated 25-35 breeding pairs remaining (PsittaScene Aug. 2011).

Threats

  • Unsustainable exploitation for the wild bird trade
  • Subspecies guayaquilensis reportedly shot as a crop-pest
  • Conversion of forest to oil-palm and banana plantations, causing the loss of the large Mountain Almond
  • Increased impact of logging, agriculture, illegal coca plantations, gold mining and hunting
  • Illegal trapping for in-country trade, food and feathers

Ecology

This macaw prefers lowland humid forest and also strongly deciduous forest; in Costa Rica lowland primary forest. It is found at altitudes to 600m (1968 ft) in Costa Rica and1000m (3280 ft) in Panama. Less gregarious than other large macaws, it is found in pairs and groups of 3-4 birds, foraging on fruits and flowers.