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Macaw Facts | Brazil Wildlife Guide

These birds are truly a brilliant species. Macaws are the largest flying parrots, with a dazzling array of colors in vivid yellow, hyacinth blue, emerald green, and ruby red. Their raucous calls are domineering, as they fly deftly through the forest with streamlined body and wings, and vibrant tail plumage. There are 15 species of macaw that live in Central and South America, but only 5 species inhabit the Pantanal region.

Macaws are rarely found alone, as they prefer to raise a ruckus in groups. They are a monogamous species, mating for life. A pair is almost always seen together. The two will fly or sit side by side, preening each other’s feathers and talking to each other with affectionate, rasping calls.

Macaws are often mistaken as fruit eaters. In fact, these birds rarely eat fruit, favoring nuts and seeds, which they extract with their powerful beaks. It is quite a sight to watch a macaw crack into the incredibly hard shell of a Brazil nut with apparent ease.

Unfortunately, macaws in Brazil are losing their homes to deforestation and poaching. Hunters shoot the birds for food and feathers, extracting their nests to steal the chicks. Many poachers cut down trees to access the chicks, which limits the number of places to nest. This affects the macaws’ ability to raise their young. Chicks are sold in the illegal pet trade, as macaws are highly prized. This illegal capture has devastated populations in the wild. Macaws are endangered, with an estimated 2,500 to 5,000 remaining in the wild today.

Header Credit: Luc Viatour [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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