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19 Types of Macaws: Species, Facts and Photos

Macaws are large parrots with bright colors and long-tail feathers. As inhabitants of tropical regions, different types of macaws have adapted to their specific ecosystems. This article aims to objectively analyze these birds' distinct characteristics, behaviors, and preferred habitats. 

Macaws are part of the Psittacidae family, which includes parrots, lorikeets, and cockatoos. They are spread across six unique genera: Anodorhynchus, Cyanopsitta, Ara, Orthopsittaca, Primolius, and Diopsittaca. In the following sections, we will discuss all 19 macaw species.

Related Read: Macaw Facts, Types of Parrots.

All 19 Types of Macaw Species

1. Glaucous Macaw (Anodorhynchus glaucus)

The Glaucous Macaw, with its porcelain-blue feathers and striking yellow eyes, used to inhabit the palm savannahs and gallery forests of South America, preferring the palm groves for their fruit-rich diets.

This macaw species was once widespread across South America but is now critically endangered1. The last confirmed sighting of this bird was in the 1960s; hunting and habitat loss are the suspected reasons for its decline.

2. Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)

Hyacinth Macaw
Photo by DickDaniels on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Hyacinth Macaw is a prominent parrot species with striking cobalt-blue feathers and bright yellow rings around its eyes. Their natural habitat is the Pantanal region of South America. 

They are gentle and intelligent enough to use tools. However, due to habitat loss and illegal trade, Hyacinth Macaws are a vulnerable species, and conservation efforts are needed to protect them.

3. Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari)

Lear’s Macaw
Photo by Marcos Pereira on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Lear's Macaw, or Indigo Macaw, has blue plumage and is native to northeastern Brazil. It got its name from the English artist Edward Lear. The bird inhabits the unique "caatinga" woodland and feeds mainly on Licuri palm nuts. 

Unfortunately, the endangered Lear's Macaw struggles against hunting, habitat loss, and the illegal pet trade. 

4. Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii

Spix's Macaw
Photo by Daderot on Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

The Spix's Macaw, or Little Blue Macaw, is a blue-feathered bird native to Brazil. Sadly, this type of macaw is now classified as Extinct in the Wild due to trapping and habitat loss, despite the existence of captive populations. The last known wild individual was spotted in 2000.

Efforts are underway to save the species through captive breeding programs and habitat restoration projects.

5. Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus)

Great Green Macaw
Photo by Alois Staudacher on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Great Green Macaw, or the Buffon's Macaw, is a large bird in Central and South American rainforests. The bird is predominantly green with splashes of blue and red on its wings and tail and is known for its sturdy beak. 

Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction and illegal trade, the population continues to decline, making them critically endangered species.

6. Blue and Gold Macaw (Ara ararauna)

Blue and Gold Macaw
Photo by Nasimahmed01 on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Blue and Gold Macaws, or the Blue and Yellow Macaws, are large birds with distinctive sky blue, rich gold plumage, and a black beak. It is native to South and Central America and inhabits various habitats. 

Moreover, the Blue and Yellow Macaw eats seeds, nuts, fruits, leaves, flowers, and even clay from riverbanks. 

7. Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloropterus)

Green-winged Macaw
Photo by Heather Paul on Flickr licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Green-winged Macaw, also known as Greenwing Macaw or Red and Green Macaw, features vibrant colors.

This exotic bird inhabits the forests and woodlands of northern and central South America, from eastern Panama in Central America to the eastern edges of the Andes, reaching as far south as Paraguay and Bolivia. 

8. Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis)

Blue-throated Macaw
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.

The Blue-throated Macaw lives in North Central Bolivia. They have yellow bodies with blue throats and cheeks. Additionally, Blue-throated Macaws prefer palm fruits and form strong monogamous bonds. 

The cage bird trade has left these birds critically endangered2. Conservation efforts are underway, which halted the declining population.

9. Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)

Scarlet Macaw
Photo by Charles J. Sharp on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

Scarlet Macaws inhabit the rainforests and savannahs of Central and South America, spanning from southeastern Mexico to the Amazonian regions of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. Their feathers are a vibrant combination of scarlet, blue, and yellow, which help them blend in with the colorful fruits and treetops. 

The Scarlet Macaw is one of the larger members of the parrot family, measuring 32 to 36 in in length, with a wingspan of about three feet. 

10. Military Macaw (Ara militaris)

Military Macaw
Photo by neiljs on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

Military Macaws are medium-sized birds living in the forests and woodlands of Mexico and South America. They prefer regions with large trees and cliffs, usually at altitudes up to 6,500 feet. 

This type of macaw, listed as vulnerable, faces threats from habitat loss and bird trade. Despite being in many national parks, protection is often weak, particularly in Mexico, leading to a fast population decline.

11. Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys)

Red-fronted Macaw
Photo by Snowmanradio on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Red-fronted Macaws are native to the craggy mountains in Bolivia. They have a bright green body with splashes of red and blue on their wings and tails. Meanwhile, their foreheads are distinct fiery red. They live in dry forests of the eastern Andes, flying across vast distances for sustenance. 

Due to rampant trapping, the Red-fronted Macaw population has drastically declined3, qualifying it as Critically Endangered.

12. Chestnut-fronted Macaw (Ara severus)

chestnut-fronted macaw
Photo by DickDaniels on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Chestnut-fronted Macaw, or the Severe Macaw, is the largest mini-macaw. It inhabits a range of countries from eastern Panama through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru to Bolivia's northern regions and Brazil's western expanses. 

The macaw's green plumage contrasts with a chestnut-brown forehead, splashes of red and blue on the wings, and a facial patch devoid of feathers lined with delicate black lines. 

Like other types of macaws, they mainly feed on fruits, nuts, and seeds. They also occasionally eat insects and snails and visit riverbanks to snack on clay, which helps neutralize toxins from certain foods in their diet. 

13. Cuban Macaw (Ara tricolor

The Cuban Macaw was a medium-sized bird with a unique tricolor plumage, once common in Cuba and Isla de la Juventud. 

This type of macaw lives in the forest with dispersed trees and palms. Large holes in trees were its preferred nesting spots. Its diet probably consisted of hard palm seeds, fruits, and fresh plant parts. 

However, the last reported sighting was in 1885 because locals hunted them for food and cut down their nesting trees to get young birds as pets.

14. Red-bellied Macaw (Orthopsittaca manilatus)

The Red-bellied Macaw is a medium-sized bird living in South America. It has emerald-green plumage and a distinctive red belly. It has an elongated tail and a strong beak that can crack open tough shells. 

15. Blue-headed Macaw (Primolius couloni)

Blue-headed Macaw
Photo by Robert01 on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Blue-headed Macaw lives in the rainforests of South America. Its body is predominantly green, with a blue crown. This species commonly inhabits the rainforests of Peru, northwestern Bolivia, and western Brazil. 

Their population is dwindling due to habitat changes and increased cage-bird trade, marking it as a Vulnerable species. 

16. Blue-winged Macaw (Primolius maracana)

Blue-winged Macaw
Photo by Juan M. on Pexels.

The Blue-winged Macaw or Illiger's Macaw is a colorful bird in eastern and central Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. It has adapted to diverse environments such as woodlands, savannahs, palm groves, and river edges. 

The bird's diet includes seeds, fruits, nuts, and berries. It has a robust, curved beak well-suited for cracking open hard seeds and nuts. 

17. Golden-collared Macaw or Yellow-collared Macaw (Primolius auricollis)

Golden-collared Macaw or Yellow-collared Macaw
Photo by Bernard DUPONT on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Golden-collared Macaw is a bird species in Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay. It has a yellow neck collar, blue forehead, and a long, pointed tail with blue on top and a soft grey underneath. 

They eat hard nuts, seeds, fruits, berries, and occasional insects. These birds live in pairs or familial groups and roost in large groups. Moreover, they often explore their surroundings, engage in playful antics, and use their high-pitched calls to alert the group of potential threats and predators.

18. Red-shouldered Macaw (Diopsittaca nobilis)

Red-shouldered Macaw
Photo by Snowmanradio on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Hahn's Macaw is a small, colorful bird in South America that measures only 12 inches long. It has an emerald-green plumage with red patches on its shoulders and lives in small groups or pairs in its natural habitat. 

19. Southern Red-shouldered Macaw (Diopsittaca cumanensis)

The Southern Red-shouldered Macaw, small with predominantly green plumage and a distinctive red shoulder patch, inhabits Brazil's tropical and subtropical forests. Its diet mainly consists of seeds, fruits, nuts, and occasionally insects, reflecting its arboreal lifestyle.

1

BirdLife International. (2019). Anodorhynchus glaucus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T22685527A154380861.

2

BirdLife International. (2021). Ara glaucogularis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T22685542A196624397.

3

BirdLife International. (2021). Ara rubrogenys. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T22685572A196567391. 

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Christina Victoria Craft on Unsplash.
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