Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna)

Blue-and-yellow Macaw

[order] PSITTACIFORMES | [family] Psittacidae | [latin] Ara ararauna | [authority] Linnaeus, 1758 | [UK] Blue-and-yellow Macaw | [FR] Ara bleu | [DE] Ararauna | [ES] Guacamayo Azulamarillo | [NL] Blauwgele Ara


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Ara ararauna SA Amazonia, sc


There are twelve macaws in the Ara genus. Macaws are very distinctive birds, and possibly the best known, with their distinctive screeching call, sharp hooked beak, colourful plumage, very long tails and naked area around the eyes and cheeks. They are seen in most zoos, bird collections and anywhere else exotic wildlife is likely to be found. The species or the genus Ara are social birds which in the wild iive in flocks of 40 to 50 individuals composed by family groups of two to four animals.
They form pairs, and this social structure is kept when big flocks of hundreds of individuals are constituted. The species of the Ara genus vary greatly in size and colour with all of them having a similar body shape. Ara macaws have long tail feathers and large, broad heads with beaks that are extensive and strong. The most noticeable taxonomic feature of these birds is the area of bare skin on either side of the face. These bare patches can be completely bare or be covered in rows of small facial feathers surrounding the eyes. These markings vary between each macaw species.

Physical charateristics

Sexes alike. Except for the forehead, which is green, the whole upper part of the body and the undertail coverts are bright blue. The sides of the neck and the whole under parts are golden yellow and round the chin and cheeks runs a narrow black band. The naked skin of the cheeks is pinkish-white with lines of very small isolated black feathers. The wings and tail are yellow on the underside. Iris is dull yellowish-grey. Bill, legs and feet are black.

Listen to the sound of Blue-and-yellow Macaw

[audio: Macaw.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 112 cm wingspan max.: 117 cm
size min.: 86 cm size max.: 90 cm
incubation min.: 24 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 90 days fledging max.: 26 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


South America : Amazonia, Southcentral. Distribution ranges throughout much of Central and South America, from Panama to northern tip of Argentina.


Seasonally flooded varzea forest and gallery forest. Mauritia palm stands in savanna, and in NW of range, deciduous forest away from water; lowlands to only 500 m in most of range, occasionally to 1,500 m in Peru


In Trinidad, breeding takes place during April and May. Nests are holes in dead trees and cabbage palms. In Guyana, the breeding season is rather variable. Most nesting takes place during the months of February through May and June and the nest is made in the trunk of a large dead palm. Successful breeding in captivity showed two eggs laid with an interval of two days between each. The hen covered the first egg most of the time but commenced sitting closely with the laying of the second egg. The male was never found when someone approached. One egg hatched after an incubation period of 24 to 26 days. The young bird left the nest 13 weeks after hatching. At six months it could be distinguished from the adults only by its dark eyes.

Feeding habits

Most macaws feed on the fruit of trees, nuts, seeds, fruits and berries. The large macaws can crack even the hard-shelled Brazil nuts with their strong beak, extracting the kernels with the beak and tongue. Macaws can eat unripe seeds and fruits, those with tough shells and spines, or distasteful ones containing poisons – foods that other birds cannot deal with. Some macaws include flowers and nectar in their diet. Many macaws eat clay which they find on exposed river banks. This probably helps them to safely digest poisonous seeds and supplies them with minerals such as calcium and sodium.

Video Blue-and-yellow Macaw


copyright: youtube


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Ara ararauna is being overharvested and may be seriously threatened on the long term. Overharvesting for pet trade
Blue-and-yellow Macaw status Least Concern


Resident throughout range, might come out of desne forest to open areas to feed.

Distribution map

Blue-and-yellow Macaw distribution range map


Title Molecular markers for population genetic analyses
in the family Psittacidae (Psittaciformes, Aves)
Author(s): Patricia J. Faria and Cristina Y. Miyaki
Abstract: The selection of molecular markers for population ..[more]..
Source: Genetics and Molecular Biology, 29, 2, 231-240 (2006)

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