Blue-and-Gold Macaw


Scientific Name

Ara ararauna

Species Survival Plan



Forests and swamps


Adults are preyed upon by large South American birds of prey such as the harpy eagle / Eggs and chicks are threatened by lizards, snakes, monkeys and toucans


Seeds, fruits, nuts and berries

Originally Native To

Rainforests in South America from Panama south to Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay


32.5 - 37.5 inches


32 - 42 ounces


Bright-blue wings and gold chest

Gestation Period

29 days

Birth Season

Any month


Wild 40 - 50 years / Captivity 70+ years

Social Behavior

Very social, forage in large flocks and mate for life


2 - 4 eggs



Blue-and-gold macaws are common in rainforests in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. These omnivores use their beak as a "third foot" to help them climb. A wild macaw generally eats seeds, nuts, insects, and small lizards.

The largest member of the parrot family, these birds have very long and lovely tails, while their wingspan can reach 43 inches. They will climb more often than not, only flying to cover long distances. When in flight, these birds can reach a speed of 35 miles per hour.

Macaws are monogamous and remain a bonded pair for life. These bonded pairs fly close together with their wings almost touching.

Generally seen in pairs, they may form flocks of up to 30 birds. Each morning, they fly from roosting sites to feeding grounds and return just before sunset. They do not migrate.

Macaws make their nests in a hole near the top of a tall, dead tree. They will reuse nest cavities created by woodpeckers.

In the wild, macaws play an essential part of maintaining growth in the rainforest. The macaws eat many fruits and seeds that they later defecate to the forest floor, allowing seed dispersal that leads to new growth.

Their powerful beak crushes seeds and opens nuts. For very hard nuts, the bird uses the lower part of the beak to file down the nut's shell before cracking it open. The thick, fleshy tongue moves the food around as the macaw works on it.

Macaw populations are being threatened due to habitat destruction and large scale trapping for the pet industry. Still not truly domesticated, macaws are popular as pets due to their beautiful appearance and ability to mimic. Intelligent and eager to learn new tricks and words, these birds are known as good talkers and will often repeat words and phrases in a clear and loud voice.

These birds are extremely strong and destructive, need a very large living space, and are exceedingly loud, making them poor pet choices for some. Extremely wary, at the slightest sign of danger, these macaws will rise into the air and screech loudly. On the other hand, they are affectionate, playful, and have a long lifespan.

The female lays 1-2 eggs and incubates them while the male brings food to her. Hatchlings are blind for 1-2 weeks. The male helps feed the young, as both parents will regurgitate partially digested food.

One of these birds live at the Children's Animal Center.


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