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Scarlet Macaw  & Greenwinged Macaw | by ROSY CHANDY
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Scarlet Macaw & Greenwinged Macaw

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) from southern America

Macaws are what most people think of when they think of parrots. They have vibrant plumage, colouring suited to life in Central and South American rain forests, with their green canopies and colorful fruits and flowers. Their large, powerful beaks allow them to easily crack nuts and seeds and their dry, scaly tongues have a bone inside them that makes them an effective tool for tapping into fruits. Macaws have gripping toes that they use to latch onto branches and to grab, hold, and examine items. They are intelligent, social birds which often gather in flocks of 10 to 30 individuals. Some Macaws can mimic human speech.

The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is a large, colorful macaw. It is native to humid evergreen forests in the American tropics. Range extends from extreme south-eastern Mexico to Amazonian Peru, Bolivia and Brazil in lowlands up to 500 m (1,640 ft) (at least formerly) up to 1,000 m (3,281 ft). It has suffered from local extinction through habitat destruction and capture for the parrot trade, but locally it remains fairly common. Formerly it ranged north to southern Tamaulipas. It can still be found on the island of Coiba. It is the national bird of Honduras.

 

It is about 81 centimetres (32 in) long, of which more than half is the pointed, graduated tail typical of all macaws, though the Scarlet Macaw has a larger percentage of tail than the other large Macaws. The average weight is about 1 kilogram (2.2 lb). The plumage is mostly scarlet, but the rump and tail-covert feathers are light blue, the greater upper wing coverts are yellow, the upper sides of the flight feathers of the wings are dark blue as are the ends of the tail feathers, and the undersides of the wing and tail flight feathers are dark red with metallic gold iridescence. Some individuals may have green in the wings.

Three subspecies present varying widths in their yellow wing band. There is bare white skin around the eye and from there to the bill. Tiny white feathers are contained on the face patch. The upper mandible is mostly pale horn in color and the lower is black. The only difference between ages is that young birds have dark eyes, and adults have light yellow eyes. It is frequently confused with the slightly larger Green-winged Macaw, which has more distinct red lines in the face and no yellow in the wing. Scarlet Macaws make very loud, high & sometimes low-pitched, throaty squawks, squeaks and screams designed to carry many miles to call for their groups.

 

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Taken on August 31, 2009