IAATE Resource Center: Companion Parrot

Ara ararauna

FAMILY:  Psittacidae
SPECIES:  A. ararauna Macaw Blue and Gold
Common Name(s):  Blue and Gold Macaw, Blue and Yellow Macaw


Blue and Gold Macaws are large parrots. Their upper body is blue, while the underside is golden yellow, and their forehead is green. The long tail feathers are mainly blue and yellow. The chin and cheek area is pinkish-white with thin lines of black feathers. Coloration on juveniles is washed out. These macaws have a hooked beak gray black in color. Their dark gray feet have two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward, each with a black claw.


Blue and Gold Macaws have a total length of 85 to 90 centimeters, or 34 to 36 inches. They have a wingspan of 102 to 112.5 centimeters, 41 to 45 inches. Their weight ranges from 900 to 1200 grams. Females have slightly smaller measurements.


This species of macaw is found in forests and swamps of tropical South America. Their range spans from eastern Panama through Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, and Brazil. They can possibly also be found in northern areas of Peru and Argentina.

Their habitat is controlled by food availability; distances between roosting and feeding sites have been measure to up to 25 kilometers. Preferred habitat includes forests and tall palms growin in swamps or along watercourses.


Blue and Gold Macaws are found in pairs and often mate for life. They remain in their pairing even when gathered in or flying with a large flock, and pairs are readily discernable as they fly close together, their wings almost touching.

The large families of macaws roost together and leave together in the morning to feed, returning before sunset. They often seek out mountains of clay, called “macaw licks.”

Their characteristic flight silhouette is largely due to their long tail streaming out behind as they fly. Their flight is direct with slow, shallow wingbeats and is quite fast for such a large bird. These macaws can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.


Breeding season begins during the months of February through April. Pairs leave the flock and find a nesting spot, usually cavities in dead palm trees. Blue and Golds begin breeding at six to seven years old.  Clutches contain two to three eggs averaging a size of 46 by 36 millimeters. Females incubate the eggs for 25 to 30 days, while the male guards his family. After a three-month nestling period, the young leave the nest; they will become completely independent after another three weeks.


These birds feed on fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, and green plants. They show a preference for fruit from palm species.


Blue and Gold Macaws can live up to 80 years.


The number of Blue and Gold Macaws globally is unknown. CITES lists them in their Appendix II, meaning these macaws are not currently threatened with extinction but may unless exotic pet trade is controlled. The United States Wild Bird Act prohibits the commercial import of any bird listed by CITES.


CITES: http://www.cites.org/eng/app/index.shtml

Encyclopedia of Macaws by Werner Lantermann

Forshaw, Joseph. M. Parrots of the World

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