Extra, Extra, Squawk all About It! A Guide to Blue and Gold Macaws

No birds epitomize the word “tropical” better than than parrots. Any movie or television show with a scene in the jungle usually features at least one or two perched in the shot, or perhaps you can just hear them screeching in the background. Macaws are among the most familiar of all parrots, often associated with sitting on pirates’ shoulders and lusting for crackers. More often than not, the species used is a blue and gold macaw. Despite this apparent familiarity, how much do you really know about blue and gold macaws?

blue and gold macaw

What is a macaw?

Macaws are the largest members of the parrot family, well known for their vibrant plumage and their ability to mimic human speech. They inhabit the rainforests, woodlands, and savannahs of South America, Central America, and Mexico, although are now extinct in the Caribbean. Compared to other parrots, macaws have proportionally larger beaks, longer tails, and a large, bald patch of skin on the face.

Where can I find blue and gold macaws in the wild?

Blue and gold macaws are native to the rainforests of South America. They are native to a number of countries, including Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Panama. Up until the 1970s their range also included Trinidad. The blue and gold macaw has also established populations in Florida and Puerto Rico.

How big is a blue and gold macaw?

The blue and gold macaw is on of the larger macaws. From the tip of its beak to the end of its tail feathers, they can measure almost three feet long. Their wingspan can be close to three and a half feet. Despite this seemingly huge size, macaws are lightweight animals. Most adults weight around two pounds.

What do blue and gold macaws eat?

Like all macaws, the blue and gold macaw is an herbivore. They use their powerful beaks to crack open fruits, nuts, and seeds. Leaves and flowers are also eaten. Blue and gold macaws have been observed in huge numbers around clay licks. It was initially believed that they ate the clay to neutralize some of the toxins contained within the plants they eat, but current research suggests they actually utilize the clay as a source of vitamins and mineral supplements.

Are blue and gold macaws endangered?

Unlike many other macaw species, the blue and gold macaw is not considered endangered. However, it faces the same threats as its cousins, such as deforestation, hunting, and collection for the pet trade. In the 1970s, the blue and gold macaw actually went extinct in Trinidad. Since them, efforts have been made to bring the species back by reintroducing birds from the South American mainland into protected habitat.