acaws are both Large and small, but what makes them unique from other parrot species is their long graduated tails and the bare patch of skin that covers their whole face. These Wonderful Creatures have large, strong, curved beaks that will easily crush any nut. Their tongue is dry, almost leather like with a bone inside it making it an excellent tool for digging into fruits. Their long agile toes are zygodactyl, meaning their first and fourth toes point backwards while the second and third toes point forward. This configuration is excellent for grasping their food or just hanging around upside down. They are like the clowns of the parrot world. Their streamlined bodies enable them to fly through the trees and their audacious colors blend in well with their natural habitat giving them amazing camouflage ability. Although Their loud squawking voices may at times annoy their owners, this shrill screech serves another purpose in the wild. It makes their presence known, denotes their territory and warns others of danger. They may also look for a mate with their loud vocal calls. When disturbed, these magnificent birds will screech loudly and circle overhead with their long cascading tails spread wide.
Macaws sleep in flocks in the trees at night and usually awaken before dawn to start the tedious task of preening their feathers and communicating with one another. If need be they will fly long distances to feed on fruit, nuts, and insects. They are often observed feasting until midday, when they settle down for more preening and noisy chatter. Their afternoon schedule may include foraging for more food and gathering at the clay licks to digest copious amounts of this substance daily. They use the clay licks more often during the breeding season and have been observed carrying it back home in their beaks and sharing it with their chicks . It seems this clay detoxifies the noxious poisons in their diet of fruit and seeds they consume daily in the rain forest trees and vines. When dusk arrives they will take flight again and return to their roost where they will squabble and figure out their perching arrangements for the night. This may change from day to day resulting in the occasional tiff or two where physical injury seldom occurs. Once they are settled, they will fluff out their feathers and quieten down for a peaceful slumber throughout the night.
oday, The Macaw’s natural habitat is only in South America, hence the name New World Parrot. They live in a wide variety of habitats from the tropical rain forests that cover the Amazon basin from Brazil to Peru to the arid regions along the coast of most of western South America. Although some species range as high as 5000 feet in the mountains, they are most numerous in the lowland tropical rain-forest (The Amazon Basin) since they are intrinsic to the water and clay licks. There was a time long ago, when the Macaw also made it’s home in the Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Cuba, and Hispaniola which is comprised of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. They are all extinct. Some of the species from these islands are: the Dominican Green-and-Yellow Macaw (extinct in 1791), the Jamaican Green-and-Yellow Macaw (extinct in the early 1800′s), the Lesser Antillean Macaw (extinct in 1760), and the Cuban Red Macaw (extinct in 1864). The Saint Croix Macaw, another extinct species is believed to originate from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. It seems, there is no clear date when the Saint Croix Macaw became extinct and Very little else is known except for the fact that it’s a medium sized Macaw and fossil bones from this bird were found on these islands..
As I learn more about these magnificent creatures, I have found that not a lot is known about their daily routines and lineage. It is believed that they are truly monogamous and their reproduction rate is low, producing only a few young every year. Some may live upwards of 60 years, but the likelihood of that continuing, diminish as the years pass because of poaching, the pet trade and loss of habitat from farming and logging. While only a few of the Macaw species are still thriving, there are some of the species (about a half a dozen or so) that are considered critically endangered. There is a common belief that only about about 1000 red fronted and blue throated Macaws still exist while the Spix and Glaucus Macaws are pretty much extinct. The Hyacinth Macaw population is believed to be under 3000.
It is truly a race against the clock as Conservationists work feverishly to prevent this from happening by monitoring their population and habitat, documenting their behavior and mannerisms, and looking for new strategies to better protect their survival in the wild. It is tedious work with very little reward as it seems to be a loosing battle because of logging, farming, and the pet trade. Until we can fully come to grips with our own human nature (greed) and their urgency to survive and flourish, we may not be able to avoid the extinction of many species of these magnificent Macaws.