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Great Green Macaw

©Pro-bosque

©Cerro-Blanco Reserve

Class: Aves

Order: Psittaciformes

Family:Psittacidae

Scientific Name:Ara ambiguus

IUCN Red List status: Endangered


Protected by the following WLT projects:

   

Species Range (IUCN)

Description

Great Green Macaws are, as the name suggests, almost entirely green and very large (average 85-90cm) parrots (1). They also have blue on their lower back, rump and upper tail feathers, as well as on the tip of an otherwise orange/red tail. They have a distinctive red band across the top of their bill and lines of red feathers along bare facial skin (1).

Great Green Macaws live in family groups of around five or six individuals (2). These then patrol small home ranges. They move though the forest in response to the presence of fruiting trees (2), but are also known to fly over open areas.

Behaviour

Great Green Macaws live in family groups of around five or six individuals (2). These then patrol small home ranges. They move though the forest in response to the presence of fruiting trees (2), but are also known to fly over open areas.

Great Green Macaws by Pro-Bosque
Great Green Macaws at a nest. Photo © Pro-Bosque.

Habitat

Great Green Macaws live in humid lowland deciduous forests and forest edges. The species is particularly associated with mountain almond trees from which they gain food but also use as nesting sites (3). Great Green Macaws lay up to three eggs in tree hollows, usually in August (2).

Threats and Conservation

The Great Green Macaw species, Ara ambiguus, is actually recognised as two separate subspecies; one is found in Central America and northern Colombia and the other, A. a. guayaquilensis, has a small range in Ecuador and possibly south-western Colombia (4). It is estimated the total Great Green Macaw population is less than 2,500 individuals and of this there are thought to be only around 100 individuals of A. a. guayaquilensis, split into two distinct populations in Ecuador (4).

For both populations of the A. a. guayaquilensis subspecies the World Land Trust supports a reserve that provides a key protected area within their range. In the Rio Canandé Reserve in north-western Ecuador artificial bird nests have been placed in ‘’Guayacán" trees to encourage further breeding. Likewise, in the dry tropical forests of the Cerro Blanco Woodland Reserve various initiatives have been carried out to help the conservation of the Great Green Macaw. This includes studies on nest and feeding behaviour and working closely with buffer zone communities to help protect this subspecies.

The attractive nature of Great Green Macaws means that they are hunted for the pet trade and killed for their feathers (5). Seen as an agricultural pest they are often shot by farmers. They are also at risk from extensive habitat destruction (5).

Learn more

See IUCN Red List of Threatened Species for more information on the classification of the Great Green Macaw

References

  1. Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus), Birdlife, www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=1550&m=0; May 2010
  2. Great green macaw – Biology, ARKive, www.arkive.org/great-green-macaw/ara-ambigua/biology.html; May 2010
  3. Great green macaw – Range, ARKive, www.arkive.org/great-green-macaw/ara-ambigua/range-and-habitat.html; May 2010
  4. IUCN Red List – Great green Macaw www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/142582/0; May 2010
  5. Great green macaw – Threats & Conservation, ARKive, www.arkive.org/great-green-macaw/ara-ambigua/threats-and-conservation.html; May 2010
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