The Blue-and-Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna), also known as the Blue-and-Gold Macaw, is a large blue (top parts) and yellow (under parts) South American parrot, a member of the large group of Neotropical parrots known as macaws. It inhabits forest (especially varzea, but also in open sections of terra firme(non-flooded forest)) and woodland of tropical South America.
They are popular in aviculture because of their striking color, ability to talk, ready availability in the marketplace, and close bonding to humans.
The Blue-and-Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna, Linnaeus 1758), is a member of the genus Ara (Lacepede 1799), one of 6 genera of Central and South American macaws. Protonym: Psittacus ararauna. The species name is derived from Tupi Ara onamatopoeia macao: macaw; Tupi arara: parrot +una: dark or black, hence "dark parrot/macaw".
These birds can reach 76 to 86 cm (30 to 34 in) long and weigh 900 to 1500 grams (1.9 to 3.3 lbs), making it one of the larger members of its family. They are vivid in appearance with blue wings and tail, dark blue chin, golden under parts, and a green forehead. Beaks are black. The naked face is white, turning pink in excited birds, and lined with small black feathers.
There is little variation in plumage across the range. Some birds have a more orangey or "butterscotch" underside color, particularly on the breast. This was often seen in Trinidad birds and others of the Caribbean area. The Blue-and-yellow Macaw uses its powerful beak for breaking nutshells, and also for climbing up and hanging from trees.
The Blue-and-yellow Macaw generally mates for life. Blue-and-yellow macaws nest almost exclusively in dead palms and most nests are in M. flexuosa palms. The female typically lays two or three eggs. The female incubates the eggs for about 28 days. One chick is dominant and gets most of the food; the others perish in the nest. Chicks fledge from the nest about 97 days after hatching.
Distribution and Habitat
Venezuela south to Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. It extends slightly into Central America, where it is restricted to Panama. The species range formerly included Trinidad, but it was extinct there by 1970 as a result of anthropomorphic activities. Between 1999 and 2003, wild caught Blue-and-Gold macaws were translocated from Guyana to Trinidad, in an attempt to reestablish it in a protected area around Nariva swamp.
It is on the verge of being extirpated from Paraguay, but still remains widespread and fairly common in a large part of mainland South America. It is therefore listed as Least Concern by BirdLife International. It is listed on CITES Appendix II, trade restricted.
Blue-and-yellow Macaws are popular as pets partly because of their striking appearance and ability as a talking bird; however, their large size makes accommodation problematic, and they require much more effort and knowledge from owners than more traditional pets such as dogs or cats. They are intelligent and social, so for someone who can provide for their needs, they make good and loving companion parrots. Blue-and-yellow Macaws bond very closely to their owners.
Even the most well-tended Blue-and-yellow Macaw will "scream" and make other loud noises. Loud vocalizations, especially "flock calls", and destructive chewing are natural parts of their behavior and should be expected in captivity. Due to their large size, they require plentiful space in which to fly. According to World Parrot Trust, an enclosure for a Blue-and-yellow Macaw should not be smaller than 15 metres (50 feet) long.
These birds are very intelligent and can be taught tricks after gaining enough trust from owners.
They require a varied diet; a seed only diet will lead to health problems such as vitamin deficiency. An example of a good diet would be a quality pelleted mix, in conjunction with a mix featuring seed, nuts, and dried fruits, with fresh vegetables (greens and roots) and fruits fed regularly; furthermore, it is quite common (and appreciated by the parrot) to partake with their human owners of safe foods like pasta, bread, etc.
It is important to avoid foods with high fat content (generally) while striving to provide a wide variety of foods. There are some foods which are toxic to birds and parrots as a group. Cherries and most other Rosaceae pits and seeds, avocados, chocolate, and caffeine are among the foods toxic to parrots. Chocolate and caffeine are not metabolized by birds the same way they are in humans. Rosaceae seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, and avocados contain persin which are both toxic compounds to birds. Safe foods include oranges, apples, grapes, peanuts, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Ara ararauna". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/106001547. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Krishnan, Karunya. "Macaws on campus 'awesome' but noisy." The Miami Hurricane. 2009.
- Alderton, David (2003). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Caged and Aviary Birds. London, England: Hermes House. p. 235. ISBN 1-84309-164-X.
- "Blue and Gold Macaw (Ara ararauna) | Parrot Care". World Parrot Trust. http://www.parrots.org/index.php/encyclopedia/captivestatus/blue_and_gold_macaw/. Retrieved 28 January 2010.
- Doane, Bonnie Munro & Qualkinbush, Thomas (1994): My parrot, my friend : an owner's guide to parrot behavior. Howell Book House, New York. ISBN 0-87605-970-1
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