Blue & Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna)

One of our animal ambassadors, who may ask you for a cracker, is Newton, who is part of the Education Department’s team. She is a Blue & Yellow Macaw, also called a Blue & Gold Macaw, and saying “cracker” is her way of asking for a treat.

Blue & Yellow Macaws are intelligent, playful, inquisitive, behaviorally complex, and have the ability to mimic words and sounds.

Blue & Yellow Macaws are social birds mainly found in pairs but they congregate in groups to form flocks. When in pairs, they fly close together with their wings almost touching.

When foraging, they may join small, noisy flocks during the early morning; by midday, they begin to search for shade.

They are very wary; at any sign of danger, they fly into the air screeching loudly. They are able to reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. They nest high in trees to avoid predation.

Description:
The Blue & Yellow Macaws are vibrantly colored, large parrots with long tail feathers. Their plumage is mainly brilliant blue and bright yellow in color but their forehead is green. The upper part of the body is a brilliant blue with the sides of the neck and body being golden yellow.

They have black plumage around the chin and cheeks. Their cheeks are a pinkish-white where there are no feathers, but they have lines of very small, isolated black feathers across them. Their eyes are yellow.

The Blue & Yellow Macaw has a strongly hooked black beak. They have a black throat and black legs.

They are from 32 to 36 inches long and weigh about 2 ½ pounds. They have a wingspan of 41 to 45 inches.

They have feet that are called zygodactylous, which means two toes point forward and two toes point backward.

Habitat:
Blue & Yellow Macaws are found mainly in rainforests in swampy and riparian (wetlands) areas.

Range:
They are native to South America from Venezuela to Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay. They are also found in Mexico and Panama.

Diet:
Herbivore – seeds, nuts, berries, and fruits.

Family Life:
Blue & Yellow Macaws form monogamous pairs that mate for life. They breed every 1 to 2 years.

Females lay 2 to 3 eggs and incubate them for 24 to 28 days. The hatchlings are blind and featherless. After 10 days, they begin to develop feathers. During their first week after hatching, only the female will feed the young through regurgitation.

Within 3 months, fledglings become independent but remain with their parents for up to a year. Both parents care for the young through providing food for them and protecting them. Both parents show extreme aggression toward intruders in order to protect their young.

Life Span:
In the wild: 35 years. In human care: 50 years.

Status:
Least concern.