Considered as an endangered species, the Scarlet Macaw may probably be the most beautiful and striking breed of macaw the world has ever seen. This bird is also the largest parrot in the world with a size that can grow as long as 33 inches–from beak to tail.
With an almost featherless face and impeccably red-colored body adorned with bright yellow and blue feathers, scarlet macaws originated from Central and South America–Costa Rica being one of the countries that push for its preservation, breeding and reproduction.
- Scientific name: Ara Macao
- Lifespan: 50-80 years
- Two types: Bolivian and Honduras; The Bolivian Scarlet Macaw has a larger and darker body than that of the Honduran Scarlet Macaw
- Lives on tall trees of lowland desidious or tropical evergreen forests
- Usually fly in pairs or trios but can gather as flocks of up to 30 individuals
- They are loud, squawking birds but are found to be quiet when they are feeding
- It mainly feeds on seeds, nuts, fruits, nectars and flowers. At times, it can also eat certain vegetables such as lettuce and even sandwiches
- It can reproduce after 1 or 2 years of maturity and can lay 2-4 eggs every hatching period
- When they are young, they have black eyes and as they grow older, they develop yellowish eyes
- Predators: harpy eagles, toucans, snakes, jaguars and humans
The scarlet macaw has grown to be one of the many endangered species of the wild. Because of poaching, the lack of knowledge in taking care of one or breeding them has led to this alarming fact. That’s why it is not suggested to have these macaws as pets if the owner cannot nurture it well.
Scarlet Macaws as Pets
In Costa Rica, it’s illegal to have these birds as “pets”, although people are occasionally able to get a license to have them if there’s a good reason, such as you’re running a re-introduction or rehabilitation program.
Scarlet Macaws are very high maintenance birds and they require a lot of close attention, affection and training. It is advisable to train them what to nip or not to nip because as they grow, they might end up biting your favorite furniture.
When it comes to feeding them, pellets are suggested food but giving them fresh fruits and vegetables are a good way diet for them. Nuts and seeds have high fat content so giving these as treats more and not as regular food is highly recommended.
Costa Rica’s Breeding and Reproduction Program
It was found that endangered scarlet macaws that were born out of captivity have started reproducing for the first time in Costa Rica recently. The photo on the right shows a macaw that made a next for itself in a giant ceiba tree, after it was released at Curu Park near to Montezuma. Since then, more and more couples are mating and found that there are a good number of eggs laid in the protective area of the ZooAve Center for the Rescue of Endangered Species.
In the breeding program however, many macaws were confiscated by environmental authorities or some owners have turned them over because they are not well-taken care of. Some Scarlet Macaws don’t even know how to feed themselves. Moreover, many refuse to leave the sanctuary because they still cannot survive in the wild.
Scarlet Macaws in Costa Rica
Scarlet Macaws are a definitely a sight to see in the rainforest and reserves of Costa Rica. Since this country is one of the original place they were first found, bird-watching is definitely worth the effort. Places such as Palo Verde National Park, Carra National Park, Corcovado National Park, Zoo Ave and even a hotel in Puntaneras named Los Suenos Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort is a great spot to see these birds quietly nesting on trees.