There are 23 kinds of birds that belong to the order of parrots (Psittacformes). The blue and yellow macaw is often considered to be one of the most trainable and intelligent birds of these parrots. It is considered to be the most beautiful.
The blue and yellow macaw is green on the top of his head and has blue feathers on its upper parts, with yellow underneath. It has a black chin. It is about 34 - 36 inches long from tip to tip. The blue and yellow macaw has a wingspan of 41 to 45 inches and weighs up to 1200 grams.
Macaws range from the rain forest of Panama to the lowlands of South America to northern Paraguay. They live in the forests, but not dense forests. They also live in tall palms growing in swampy areas and near rivers. They are losing their habitat because of the destruction of the rain forests, due to pollution, building, and logging.
Very little is known about the breeding habits of the blue and yellow macaw in the wild. It is believed that macaws do not breed until they are 3 to 4 years old. They probably pair for life and live in small family groups. The birds nest high above the ground in cavities found in large, dead trees. Only two or three eggs are laid in a nest. It is thought that the female incubates them. However, both male and female aggressively defend the eggs. When the young hatch, they are blind and featherless. The parents will raise only the strongest chick, leaving the others to starve to death. Babies do not develop their full plumage until they are at least 10 weeks old. After they grow feathers, or fledge, they remain with their parents for several months before becoming independent.
Macaws have very powerful beaks. At the zoo they eat fruit, nuts, seeds, lettuce, and carrots. In the wild they eat palm fruit and other tree fruits. One of the macaw's favorite foods is the seeds of the Hura crepitans tree. They usually roost at a different place from where they eat. Their feeding ground may be some distance away. Often macaws gather at "licks"to eat mineral and salt bearing clay, which is found near some rivers.
Macaws are very gregarious animals. They tend to congregate in flocks of a hundred or more animals. There doesn't seem to be a leader of the flock. All the birds seem to be equal, and they just move as a group. However, the paired birds usually fly very close together with their wings almost touching.
The macaw is a sociable bird when it is in captivity and can be hand raised. It can learn to imitate sounds and words. It cannot really talk, only mimic. It can be trained to sit on a perch, but if it is caged, its beautiful tail feathers will be ruined because they are so long.
The macaws' main enemies are the Harpy Eagle and the Hawk Eagle. Orange-breasted Falcons also like to eat them and will attack the macaws while they are flying.
There are 16 species of macaws, and 9 are considered to be endangered. The blue and yellow macaws are dwindling in number. An article in International Wildlife describes an architect who is building homes for macaws. There are not enough trees for nesting birds, so they are building birdhouses for them. It is hoped that this will increase their numbers, and they will no longer be endangered. Also the architect and bird specialists are trying to remove the second chick and raise them so this will increase their numbers also.
There are two blue and yellow macaws at the Brandywine Zoo. The female is named Caw. The male is named Max. Max is often seen sitting on a perch in the capybara display. Below is a picture of Max perched on a stick, as the zoo keeper carries him to the exhibit. Max sometimes calls out, "Hello," when you walk by.
For more information, visit:
National Wildlife Federation. International Wildlife.
Vienna,Virginia. Volume 24, Number 25. September- October 1994.