Endangered Parrots and Macaws
In a sense, you could call the macaw the king of the jungle. They certainly act like it! They don’t slink around hiding in the shadows or in the brush. Their colorful plumage is reminiscent of Mardi Gras and their harsh, loud voices sound like revelers on their way home. This means that it’s impossible to confuse them with any other species.
They fly calling loudly, and their profile is unique, with extremely long tail feathers and short wings. They are sociable and you won’t see them alone. Normally they travel in pairs or groups and they are monogamous for life. But, it is impossible to tell male from female, their bright plumage is the same for both genders.
Populations and Habitat
Macaw is the common name for 15 Central and South American species. Two of these inhabit Costa Rica, the scarlet macaw and the great green macaw. Both bird populations are losing their homes to deforestation and poaching.
The scarlet macaw, locally known as Lapa Roja, population is in danger of disappearing completely: there are only three wild populations in Central America that have a long-term chance of survival–at Carara National Park and Corcovado in Costa Rica, and Coiba Island in Panama–although macaws can also be seen with regularity at Palo Verde National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, and other forested parts of the Gulf of Nicoya and Osa Peninsula. There are an estimated 200 scarlets at Carara and 1,600 at Corcovado, where as many as 40 may be seen at one time.
Although macaws are the biggest attraction at Carara, they are threatened with extinction by poachers who take the chicks to sell on the black market in the U.S., despite a ban that prohibits importing the birds. Sadly, most of them die before they reach the US market. §
Diet and Food
In the wild, the macaw’s diet consists of a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits and leaves. Macaws are usually found in the rainforest high in the emergent layer of the canopy, the very tops of the trees. Through observation, scientists have found that the preferred food and nesting grounds are in forests with almond trees (almendro). Unfortunately, almond wood is a highly sought after commodity for luxury construction, and many almond forests are being cut.
Breeding and Mating
Although they gather in a flock to sleep at night, macaws bond in pairs and mate for life. They breed every one to two years, and both the male and the female care for the young hatchlings. The parents will not raise another nest of eggs until the fledglings have become independent, usually in 1 to 2 years.