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- Published on Sunday, 24 April 2011 17:39
- Written by Jayne Hardwick
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SPECIES: A. chloropterus
Common Name(s): Green-winged macaw, Green-wing macaw, Red-and-green macaw
The Green-winged macaw, known as the "Gentle Giant", is second in size only to the Hyacinth Macaw.
The Green-winged macaw (Ara chloropterus), also known as the Red-and-green Macaw, is often mistaken for the Scarlet Macaw, another large macaw of the Ara genus, because of its predominant red feathering. The breast of the Green-winged macaw is bright red, but the lower feathers of the wing are green. Iridescent teal feathers are surrounded by red on the tail. In addition, the Green-winged macaw has characteristic red lines around the eyes formed by rows of tiny feathers on the otherwise bare white skin patch; this is one of the biggest differences from a scarlet macaw to the casual viewer. This is the most common of the large macaws in the wild, and the largest of the Ara genus, widespread in the forests of Northern South America. The beak is strongly hooked and the feet are zygodactylous (2 toes that point forward and 2 toes that point backward). The Green-winged macaw’s powerful beak can generate a pressure of 2000 psi and can snap a broomstick in half; it is designed to crush or open even the hardest nuts and seeds.
A full sized macaw, the Green-winged macaw averages lengths up to 90cm (35.5in) with wingspans averaging approximately 102-122.5cm (41-49in). Weights average approximately 1250-1700g (43.8-59.5oz or 2.75-3.75lbs)
The Green-winged macaw has one of the largest, broadest ranges of any macaw species. It occurs in Central & South America, including Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay in tropical forests, mangrove swamps, and savannas.
Green-winged Macaws are frequently seen in pairs or family groups and occasionally gather in small flocks of six to twelve birds. Larger groups are found in feeding trees or on clay banks, where they may group with other Macaws. They are fairly shy birds and are difficult to see in foliage. Usually only heard within the forest, Green-winged Macaws will fly off making loud screeches when alarmed.
Macaws are very messy eaters - their extremely strong beaks are perfectly adapted for eating all sorts of nuts and seeds, as seen in their ability to crack open incredibly hard-shelled nuts (such as Brazil nuts) with ease. In the course of daily feeding, macaws allow plenty of seeds (while eating, as well as in their droppings) to fall to the forest floor, thus regenerating much of the forest growth.
Boa constrictors, Hawks, Opossums and Rats prey on Green-winged Macaws and their eggs in the wild. The largest dangers to all Macaws are the illegal bird trade and habitat destruction.
Some macaw owners and experts call the Green-winged macaw the "gentle giant", as it is larger in size than the Scarlet macaw and Blue-and-yellow macaw but has a more docile, sweet nature which often makes it a more desirable pet or companion parrot.
Macaws are normally monogamous, having only one mate for life.
In the wild, macaws often flock to mountains of clay known as "macaw licks". Such licks contain minerals and salts essential to the bird's diet.
In the wild, macaws do not mimic other birdcalls. Mimicry is only noted in captive species. They can learn to copy human speech, but are not considered good mimics.
The Green-winged macaw generally mates for life. In the wild, the breeding season for the green-winged macaw begins in November and December in the southern part of their range, and February and March in the north. Nests are fashioned in hollow tree trunks or holes in damaged palms high above the ground. The female typically lays two or three eggs in the nest, incubates the eggs for about 28 days, and the chicks fledge from the nest about 90 days after hatching.
The first down feathers appear around 8 days after hatching. The chicks open their eyes at around 15 days and the first feather sheaths emerge at about 3 weeks.
Sexual maturity is reached at 3-4 years.
Nuts, fruit, berries, seeds and some vegetable matter foraged from trees constitute the typical diet of these macaws in the wild. They are able to eat some poisonous fruits due to their habit of eating river clay, which appears to neutralize the toxins.
The Green-winged macaw can live 60 years or longer
The Green-winged macaw currently is not classified as endangered. However, they have disappeared from part of their former range in Panama and are extinct in some parts of its range including Argentina. Five other species of macaws are listed by the IUCN as either Endangered or Vulnerable.
Largely a forest dwelling species, green-winged macaws, along with many of their parrot relatives, are under pressure from deforestation and human population growth. They are also popular in the pet trade, going easily for as much as $1500.
According to the IUCN Red List, the global population size of the Green-winged macaw has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as 'frequent' in at least parts of its range. Global population trends have not been quantified; there is evidence of a population decline, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The U.S. Wild Bird Act forbids the commercial import of any bird listed by CITES which includes most parrots - endangered or threatened.
Alderton, David (2003). The ultimate encyclopedia of caged and aviary birds. London, England: Hermes House. p. 235.
Animal Diversity Web at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/search/simple/
Animal World at http://animal-world.com/encyclo/birds/macaws/greenwing.php
The BIG Zoo at http://www.thebigzoo.com/Animals/Green-winged_Macaw.asp
Forshaw, J.M. Parrots of the World. New Jersey. T.F.H. Publications Inc. 1978.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/142584/0
Marrison, C. and A. Greensmith. Birds of the World. New York: Dorling Kindersley, Inc. 1993.
Perrins, C. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Facts on File Publications. 1985.
Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure at http://www.rollinghillswildlife.com/animals/m/macawgreenwinged/index.html