Scarlet Macaw Ara macao

  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors needed...


Distinguishing Characteristics

The most conspicuous characters of the Scarlet Macaw and other macaws of the genus Ara are their large body size, moderate to large and curve bill, long and graduated tail feathers, sexes with the same colormorphic plumage, exposed epidermis in the facial area and loud and croaky calls (Forshaw 1989, Abranson et al 1995).

Similar Species

There is only one species of macaw almost similar in plumage coloration to those of the Scarlet Macaw, that is the Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloropterus) which is also larger than scarletsRed-and-green Macaw has darker red and green median wingcoverts, inner secondaries, tertials and scapulars. Scarlet Macaw has yellow rather than green upper wing coverts and almost white bare patches on the lores where as Red-and-green Macaws have red contour feathered lines along the lores. Both Scarlet and Red-and-green Macaws have same color pattern of light ivory color in the upper mandible and dark gray to black in the lower mandible.  However, Red-and-green Macaw have a larger and massive bill than Scarlet Macaw.

Detailed Description

Adult Scarlet Macaws have feathers of the head, neck, back scapulars, lesser wing coverts, greater part of tail, and under parts, including under wing-coverts with a clear scarlet vermillion color, which is deeper on under parts, and tends to deep poppy red. The middle and proximal greater wing-coverts are orange-yellow (between chrome and deep chrome yellow), some of them, occasionally with a terminal spot of dull greenish or blue green, particullarly the South American specimens. The distal greater coverts, alula, primary coverts and remiges have an uniform dull cobalt blue and the tertials (i.e., inner secondaries) more tinged with green. The maxilla has mostly a pale brownish yellow color. The mandible, tip of maxilla, and a triangular area on lower basal portion of maxilla, are black. The iris is pale yellow in adult birds and brown on immature birds. The bare skin of the head is pale flesh color or pinkish white. Legs and feet are dusky grayish or blackish (Ridgway 1916, Forshaw 1989).  Wiedenfeld (1994) mentioned that Scarlet Macaws from Central America (Mexico to north western Nicaragua) have some more yellow wing covert feathers with blue color in the tip and almost none or little green (Ara macao cyanoptera) and those from Central Nicaragua to Brazil have in contrast more green on the wing covert feathers (Ara macao macao).



Bare Parts

The Scarlet Macaw adults present a light yellow iris where as immature birds have a light grey color. Lores are large white bare patches with isolated filoplumes. The upper mandible has light ivory color and the lower mandible is dark gray to black coloration. Tarsi and toes are black or dark gray.



Adult females range 795-950 mm, mean 848 mm (n=13).
Adult males range 742-920 mm, mean 841 mm (n=18).


Adults male female range 950-1,200 g. (n=9) {LOOK FOR SPECIMENS WEIGHT IN THESIS AND FOR SOUTH AMERICA}

Recommended Citation

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: