Macaw

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Macaw
A Blue-and-yellow Macaw in flight
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Subfamily: Psittacinae
Formation team flying: Ara chloropterus

A macaw is a New World parrot. Some of the species are large birds, the largest of the parrots. Macaws are native to Mexico, Central America, South America, and formerly the Caribbean.

Macaws, like all parrots, are unusually intelligent birds. The usual thing for parrots is to pair for life. They stay together even out of the mating season. They often fly in formation, one above the other.

Diet and clay licks[change | change source]

Macaws and Mealy Amazons at a clay lick in Tambopata National Reserve, Peru

Macaws eat a variety of foods including seeds, nuts, fruits, palm fruits, leaves, flowers, and stems. Wild species may forage widely, over 100 km (62 mi) for some of the larger species such as Ara araurana (blue & yellow macaw) and Ara ambigua (great green macaw), in search of seasonally available foods.

In the western Amazon, hundreds of macaws and other parrots descend to exposed river banks to lick clay almost daily,[1] – except on rainy days.[2]

It was suggested that parrots and macaws in the Amazon basin eat clay from exposed river banks to neutralize toxins.[3]

The clay eating behavior of parrots was studied at clay licks in Peru. Apparently, macaws and other birds and animals prefer clays with higher levels of salt.[4] Sodium is a vital element which is scarce in environments over 100 kilometers from the ocean.[5]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Munn C.A. 1994. Macaws: winged rainbows. National Geographic, 185, 118–140.
  2. Brightsmith D.J. 2004. Effects of weather on parrot geophagy in Tambopata, Peru. Wilson Bulletin. 116, 134–145.
  3. Gilardi J.D. 1996. Ecology of parrots in the Peruvian Amazon: habitat use, nutrition, and geophagy. Ph.D. dissertation. University of California at Davis, Davis, California
  4. Powell et al. 2009. Parrots take it with a grain of salt: available sodium content may drive collpa (clay lick) selection in southeastern Peru. Biotropica 41(3):279–282.
  5. On the biogeography of salt limitation

Other websites[change | change source]