Blue-headed Macaw (Primolius couloni)

Blue-headed Macaw

[order] PSITTACIFORMES | [family] Psittacidae | [latin] Primolius couloni | [authority] P. L. Sclater, 1876 | [UK] Blue-headed Macaw | [FR] Ara a tete bleu | [DE] Blaukopf-Ara | [ES] Guacamayo Cabeciazul | [NL] Blauwkopara | [copyright picture] Robert01


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Primolius couloni SA w Amazonia


Primolius is a genus of macaws comprising three species, which are native to South America. They are mainly green parrots with complex colouring including blues, reds and yellows. They have long tails, a large curved beak, and bare facial skin typical of macaws in general. They are less than 50 cm long, much smaller than the macaws of the Ara genus.

Physical charateristics

Small, colourful macaw. Pale green body with blue edge of wing, primary coverts and flight feathers. Blue head with small grey bare face patch extending from bill around eye. Medium-sized grey bill. Red uppertail, shading to pale blue at tip. Underside of wings and tail dusky yellow. Blue-winged Macaw P. maracana has mostly green head with red front, pale face patch and dark bill. In a region where all large macaws have light colored facial skin, the Blue-head Macaw is distinctive for have dark facial skin which is also quite restricted relative to other macaws.

Listen to the sound of Blue-headed Macaw

[audio: Macaw.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Huw Lloyd

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 41 cm size max.: 43 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


South America : West Amazonia. Restricted to eastern Peru, extreme western Brazil and north-western Bolivia. In Bolivia, it occurs in La Paz and perhaps south to Beni – perhaps birds regularly occur on the eastern Andean foothills of Bolivia as far south as 140 30’S. Possibly prefers foothill forest to lowland forest.


In upper tropical forests between 150 and 1,550 m a.s.l. Prefers disturbed or partially open habitats, occurring at forest edge along rivers (although may be easier to see in this habitat), in clearings and around partly-forested settlements. Also found in swampy areas within forest, with Mauritia palms.


One possible nest was reportedly in a bamboo cavity, and another was in a tree cavity repeatedly visited by a pair of adults in the Cordillera Azul. A young chick seen accompanying parents at the clay lick at Tambopata Research Center in July 2005, and one pair out of 10 pairs cared for a single young in April at Manu National Park In captivity, clutch size is reported to be 2?4 eggs with an annual breeding cycle.

Feeding habits

The species eats soil at clay licks, possibly as a source of sodium or to protect it from dietary toxins, no further data.

Video Blue-headed Macaw


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species has been downlisted to Vulnerable as a recent review suggests it may be more abundant than currently thought, however it still has a small and declining population owing to exploitation for the cagebird trade and deforestation.
Habitat destruction is a threat in Bolivia and Peru and a potential future threat in Brazil. In Bolivia the forest is threatened by expansion of the logging industry, but it has been suggested that the species might benefit from the patchwork clearance. Collection of nestlings and capture of adults.
Blue-headed Macaw status Vulnerable


There is little information on movements in this species. Birds have consistently been observed around Tingo Maria, Huanuco, Peru, during most months of the year, and the species has been recorded. It is present year-round at Tambopata Research Center, but its abundance at the clay lick fluctuates seasonally. Its occurrence at sites in lowland south-eastern Peru was described as erratic, and the notion that populations might undergo some form of nomadism has been repeated elsewhere.

Distribution map

Blue-headed Macaw distribution range map

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