Animal Facts

Blue-and-Yellow Macaw

Scientific Name: Ara ararauna

Fast Fact:

The face of the blue-and-yellow macaw is bare white skin with tracts of tiny feathers running through it. The pattern of these tracts is unique to each macaw and can act almost like fingerprints for identification. 

Blue and Yellow Macaw

Parrots are mainly tropical and subtropical birds found on every continent, except Antarctica. They are important distributors of seeds, and their messy eating habits provide food for animals on the forest floor. At three feet long (36 inches), the blue and yellow macaw is one of the largest parrots in the world. Only the hyacinth macaw, at 39 inches in length, is larger.

STATUS: The blue-and-yellow macaw is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

HABITAT: Blue-and-yellow macaws are found in the rainforests of Panama and throughout the northern half of South America.

DIET: These birds primarily eat fruit, seeds, and nuts, as well as other vegetable matter. They frequent clay beds containing kaolin and other minerals that may be useful for counteracting toxins often contained in the food they eat.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The blue-and-yellow macaw is impossible to mistake, with its cobalt blue coat of feathers and gold chest. The wings are short and rounded for maneuverability in the rainforest, while the tail is longer than the body for balance. The beak is large, hooked, and black‒ designed for cracking large nuts and dealing with tough fruit. Unlike most birds, parrots have a stationary lower mandible and mobile upper mandible designed to act like a hinge. With special tendons attached to the beak running to the top of the head, the upper mandible can act like a vise pressing against the lower mandible, creating tremendous jaw pressure to crack nuts and open fruit. Parrots have the strongest jaw pressure of any bird. The beak is also used to excavate a nest hole in a tree to raise two to four chicks per clutch. Their powerful bite can also be used for defense.

Parrots have zygodactylous feet, which means that they have two toes in front and two in back. This gives parrots a good all-around grip, allows them to cling to vertical surfaces, and enables many parrots, such as the blue and yellow macaw, to hold food in their foot and bring it to their mouth. The beak, in conjunction with their feet, allows parrots to climb vertical surfaces.

A Very Smart Bird

Parrots are intelligent birds. They’ve been estimated to have the learning capacity of a two- or three-year-old child. They have strong personalities and can be loving, affectionate, stubborn, and willful. They are good at mimicking sounds, including human speech, which makes them attractive as pets. However, the pet trade has devastated wild parrot populations throughout the world.

Parrots are very social and long-lived animals. A blue-and-yellow macaw can live 70 years or more. Caring for a pet parrot requires a great deal of dedication and work; as such, a lot of thought should be given before purchasing a bird that may outlive its owner.

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