Language English Photo: Biodôme Photo: Biodôme Photo: Biodôme OngletsDescriptionDistinguishing featuresThis large colourful parrot is predominantly red. It has a big splash of yellow and a little green on its wings, and some blue on the flight feathers and tail feathers. The rump and the base of the tail are light blue, while the tail, long and pointed, is red and blue. There are few physical differences between the male and the female. On the other hand, the young have dark eyes, while the adults have pale yellow eyes, almost white. ReproductionThe scarlet macaw nests high in trees, between 7 and 25 meters off the ground, in natural cavities or in holes left by woodpeckers. The female lays one to four eggs per clutch, but generally two or three. Incubation lasts around 28 days. The young are capable of flight at the age of three months but don’t become independent until the age of four or five months. They remain with their parents until the age of one year. Sexual maturity is reached at three or four. The macaw couple is monogamous, and will reproduce just once a year, sometimes only every two years. DietScarlet macaws feed on the nuts and fruit they find in the forest canopy. They may also eat insects, buds, leaves, bark and even nectar. Their beaks are well adapted to breaking open nuts and other very hard fruit. That adaptation gives them an advantage over other fruit-eating species that don’t have such strong beaks and therefore have no access to that source of food. PredatorsThere are few predators, but a large raptor like the harpy eagle may attack them. Carnivorous mammals are only rarely a threat to the scarlet macaw, since they hunt on the ground. Scarlet macaws avoid hyacinth macaws, however, as these are bigger, and therefore serious competitors for food. Scarlet macaws are often caught by humans to be sold as pets or for their feathers. HabitatScarlet macaws can be found in Central and South America. They inhabit areas known as terra firma in tropical rainforests, from Mexico to the Amazon, in low-lying areas (an altitude of 500 meters or less). Ecology, behaviourThese parrots fly in pairs or small family groups of three or four individuals. Scarlet macaws sometimes form flocks of 25 to 50 birds in communal roosts, in very tall trees or mangrove forests. At certain times of the day they form, with other species of parrots, large gatherings on eroding riverbanks to eat clay, the purpose of which is to neutralize the effects of toxins contained in the slightly underripe fruit that they’ve eaten. Scarlet macaw populations have decreased substantially because of the destruction of their habitat, captures for trade and the spreading of pesticides. In Costa Rica, for example, the bird is found in no more than 9,100 km² out of the 42,500 km² it once occupied. French nameAra rouge Scientific nameAra macaoPhylumChordataClassBirdsOrderPsittaciformesFamilyPsittacidaeSizeLength: 84 to 89 cmWeight1075 to 1345 gLife spanIn the wild: 50 years; in captivity: 80 yearsStatusLeast concern (IUCN).