Macaws are members of the parrot family which has 340 species. 17 different species of Macaw are found in the rainforests of South America.  Many of them are endangered.


Macaw Habits

Daily Life: except when breeding, macaws move about in screeching flocks. In the early morning, a screeching chorus begins as birds leave their roosts to gather in a tree. There they bask in the sun before setting off to feed. At midday, when the heat builds up they look for shade. When the sun's rays begin to weaken the birds come out again to feed. At dusk, they return to their assembly point, usually a bare tree, before separating to fly off to their individual roosts for the night. Blue and yellow macaws have been recorded flying as far as 25km to feed.

Although the macaw has such brilliant colours, it is actually very difficult to spot up in the tree canopy, against the golden shafts of sunlight and blue sky. This camouflage gives it some protection against birds of prey.

Powerful beaks: Most macaws feed on the fruit of trees, nuts, seeds, fruits and berries. The large macaws can crack even the hard-shelled Brazil nuts with their strong beak, extracting the kernels with the beak and tongue. Macaws can eat unripe seeds and fruits, those with tough shells and spines, or distasteful ones containing poisons - foods that other birds cannot deal with. Some macaws include flowers and nectar in their diet. Many macaws eat clay which they find on exposed river banks. This probably helps them to safely digest poisonous seeds and supplies them with minerals such as calcium and sodium.

Breeding: macaws nest in hollows in trees, sometimes high up from the ground. Two eggs are usually laid, which the female incubates for a month. The chicks are blind and naked when they hatch and develop slowly, staying in the nest for 3 months before fledging.

The parents feed the young on regurgitated food and they both defend the nest, showing great aggression towards intruders, screeching loudly and raising their wings above their heads to show the brightly coloured underwings.

Even after fledging, the young macaws may stay in their family group for more than a year. They do not breed until they are 3 or 4 years old and even after then, they may not attempt to breed every year. Pairs usually stay together for life.

Read More: Macaws and Humans

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