The Endangered Macaws of Central America and South America

Red-Fronted MacawPhoto: FreaksAnon

Macaws belong to seventeen species within six branches of the parrot family, Psittacidae. They are known for their brilliant colours and powerful beaks.

Where do Macaws Live?

Macaws are native to Central America and South America, preferring rainforests. They sleep at night in the forest canopy, but fly to forage during the day.

Picture of the Amazon RainforestPhoto: markg6

What do Macaws Eat?

Macaws eat fruit, nuts and seeds, as well as insects and snails. Some have been seen eating damp clay or soil, presumably to detoxify their digestive systems.

Lifestyle of the Macaw

Typically, macaws mate for life. When the female incubates eggs, her mate will return with food.

They nest in flocks of five to fiften mated pairs. They communicate through vocalizations. Like other parrots, some can be trained to imitate the speech of their owners.

Why are Some Macaws Endangered?

Several species of macaw are, indeed, considered endangered. The two reasons are illegal trapping and habitat loss.

Because macaws are prized as pets, trappers are motivated to illegally capture them from their natural habitat. Also, as rainforests are cut down for timber, fuel or to make room for agricultural pursuits, macaws lose their locations for nesting and foraging.

On the other hand, several conservation groups are fighting to preserve these magnificent birds. For example, is dedicated to saving the Blue Macaw (Anodorhynchus) group that includes the Hyacinth Macaw pictured above.

The endangered species include the Blue-throated macaw, Hyacinth macaw and Red-throated macaw. It is feared that the Glaucus and Spix’s macaws might already have disappeared from the rainforests.

Macaws can make good pets, but should be sourced from reputable dealers or breeders. Propective owners should learn how to properly care for these gorgeous birds.


National Geographic, “Macaw Psittacidae“, 2011, referenced April 11, 2011.

Blue, “Who we are“, Jan. 1998, referenced April 11, 2011.