Military Macaw (Ara militaris)

Military Macaw

Military Macaw

[order] PSITTACIFORMES | [family] Psittacidae | [latin] Ara militaris | [authority] Linnaeus, 1766 | [UK] Military Macaw | [FR] Ara militaire | [DE] Soldatenara | [ES] Guacamayo Verde (Arg), Guacamayo Militar | [NL] Soldatenara | [copyright picture] Birdlife


Monotypic species


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

Large, mostly green macaw with bright red forehead patch, blue flight feathers and bright sky blue rump. Bare face with fine lines of black feathers. A.m. militaris: both adults green, olive wash on back and wing covers; blue suffusion on crown to neck, forehead and fine lines on lores red, throat olive/brown, upper tail dark brown/red and tipped dark blue. Bill grey/black, pink/white face which turns darker pink when excited. Fine lines of feathers on face green/black. Eye yellow. A.m. mexicana: both adults larger than militaris. A.m. boliviana: both adults as in militaris but throat red/brown, red bases to feathers of ear coverts; tip of tail and outer webs of primary feathers darker blue.

Listen to the sound of Military Macaw

[audio: Macaw.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Sebastian K. Herzog

wingspan min.: 70 cm wingspan max.: 75 cm
size min.: 70 cm size max.: 75 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Latin America : West Mexico, Northwest and West South America. Ara militaris occupies a massive but fragmented range from Mexico to Argentina


It inhabits humid lowland forest and adjacent cleared areas, wooded foothills and canyons. In Mexico, it is found in arid and semi-arid woodland, and pine-oak, humid lowland and riparian forest, moving seasonally to dense thorn-forest, although in Puno, Peru it was found to be more abundant in a mosaic of shade coffee plantations and degraded remnant forest patches than in neighbouring pristine Yungas forest. It occurs from sea-level to 3,100 m, but the core range is 500-1,500 m


Nests in tree holes, old Woodpecker cavities. Also in cliff cavities, usually in loose colonies,

Feeding habits

Feeds on variety of fruits, nuts from Ficus, Palm and Melia trees.

Video Military Macaw


copyright: ProAves


This species is listed as Vulnerable because levels of habitat loss and capture for the cagebird trade indicate that there is a continuing rapid population decline. Its future ought to be secured by the large number of national parks in which it occurs, but many of these currently provide ineffective protection.
Habitat loss and especially domestic trade are the chief threats, even within reserves. In 1991-1995, 96 wild-caught specimens were found in international trade, with Bolivia and Mexico possibly the most significant exporters. In Mexico, it is still one of the most sought-after species in the illegal cagebird trade; in 1995-2005, it was the fifth most seized Mexican Psittacine species by the country’s Environmental Enforcement Agency, becoming the fourth most seized Psittacine species in 2007-2010. In many areas it nests in relatively inaccessible cavities on cliff walls, which provides some protection against the pressures of nest poaching. However, nest poaching is a severe threat in Jalisco and Nayarit where the species nests in tree cavities. In Jalisco, Mexico, macaws were not found in deforested areas, even where abundant Hura polyandra (an important food source) were left as shade for cattle. One sub-population in the Cauca valley, Colombia, numbering fewer than 50 mature individuals, may shortly be lost as a dam is expected to flood the sole nesting cliff.
Military Macaw status Vulnerable


Sedentary with some local movements

Distribution map

Military Macaw distribution range map

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