Ara chloropterusred-and-green macaw

Geographic Range

Red-and-green macaws, Ara chloropterus, are found within the Neotropical region. They are native to the northern half of South America and are found from the northern coast of Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil southward to Bolivia and Paraguay. They are found as far east as the eastern Andes Mountains and Panama City and as far west as Itaúnas, Brazil. They are most commonly found along the northern and southern borders of the Amazon rainforest and sparsely within the rainforest.

These macaws were introduced to the Dominican Republic as far north as the southern tip and northern coast of Cuba, around San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the landmasses to the north and south of the Bahia de Boquerón on the western coast of Puerto Rico. Their southernmost introduced location is an isolated population around Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Berkunsky, et al., 2016; BirdLife International, 2016; Collar, et al., 2020)


Red-and-green macaws live in trees and near water sources with clay-licks. They can be found at elevations as low as 190 m and typically remain below 500 m. They have been located as high as 1500 m in Panama. They live in tropical locations evergreen forests, and occasionally deciduous rainforests. They are more common in areas rich in canopy-emergent trees because they are used for nesting cavities during the breeding season. Uncommonly, they occupy savannahs and "llanos" which are plains in South America that lack trees. (Alderfer, 2006; Bates and Busenbark, 1959; Berkunsky, et al., 2016; BirdLife International, 2016; Collar, et al., 2020; Karubian, et al., 2005; Renton, 2004; Rodríguez, et al., 2019)

  • Range elevation
    190 to 1500 m
    623.36 to 4921.26 ft

Physical Description

Red-and-green macaws primarily red body plumage that fades to green on the central wing feathers. This changes to light blue feathers outwards to their primaries. Primaries farthest from their cavity (e.g., P10, P9) are dark blue. The base of their tail feathers are light blue transitioning to red on each feather. These feathers are tipped with blue. The underside of both their tail and wings are dark red. Their face is sparsely red-feathered and atop visible white skin. Their upper mandible is pale yellow with black at the base of their beak. Their lower mandible is entirely black. Their iris color is yellow. Males and females look alike. Adults range in length of 90-95 cm and in mass of 1050-1700 g. The wingspan ranges between 380 and 421 mm.

Juveniles have a shorter tail than adults and the black parts on adults' mandibles are a paler grey. The iris of juveniles is brown.

Red-and-green macaws are similar in appearance to scarlet macaws (Ara macao). However, scarlet macaws lack the red facial feather lines and have yellow feathers in place of green feathers found on red-and-green macaws. Red-and-green macaws are also larger than scarlet macaws. (Alderfer, 2006; Bates and Busenbark, 1959; Collar, et al., 2020; de la Peña and Rumboll, 1998; Forshaw, 1973; Kenefick, et al., 2011; Renton and Brightsmith, 2009; Rodriguez Mata, et al., 2006)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    1050 to 1700 g
    37.00 to 59.91 oz
  • Range length
    90 to 95 cm
    35.43 to 37.40 in
  • Range wingspan
    380 to 421 mm
    14.96 to 16.57 in


Red-and-green macaws form a monogamous pair for life, breeding and laying eggs at minimum once every year.

When red-and-green macaws are ready to mate, they will groom the feathers of their partner. They may pluck their own feathers, as well. Mates frequently regurgitate to share food with each other, they pant, and they crouch with their tails end up and wings dropped. Together, they search for and prepare a nest. These nests may be excavated in trees, forming their own cavities, or the pair may choose a natural cavity in a sandstone cliff. Berkunsky et al. (2016) completed occupancy models and found that these macaws' nests were significantly closer to villages than by chance alone. Further, on the landscape, these macaws are more likely to be located closer to other red-and-green macaws than by chance. (Berkunsky, et al., 2016; Collar, et al., 2020; Renton, 2004; Renton and Brightsmith, 2009)

Red-and-green macaws breed from October to May. These macaws typically choose large canopy-emergent trees in the genus Dipteryx or natural cavities in clay-licks alongside rivers. These macaws will reuse cavities in subsequent years. The typical number of eggs within their clutches ranges between 2 to 4, and they are incubated by the mother for 23 to 28 days. The eggs hatch at intervals of 1 to 5 days between each egg. While the mother incubates the eggs, the father will regurgitate to feed the mother.

The chicks start to form their down feathers within 8 days of hatching and sheath feathers at about 3 weeks. It takes about 90 days for a chick to fledge. When preparing to fledge, the young perch at the entrance of the nest, stretching and flapping their wings. The young remain in their small family groups until they leave to find their mates, only participating in larger groups along claylick cliffsides once paired with a mate. The males and females both reach sexual maturity at ages of 2 to 4 years. It is common for young macaws to remain with their family beyond fledging as they learn to forage for themselves. The young may stay with their family up to 1 year until they are fully independent. (Berkunsky, et al., 2016; Collar, et al., 2020; Renton, 2004; Renton and Brightsmith, 2009)

  • Breeding interval
    Red-and-green macaws breed once yearly if nesting site is chosen
  • Breeding season
    Nesting starts as early as late October and extends until as late as May
  • Range eggs per season
    2 to 4
  • Range time to hatching
    23 to 28 days
  • Average fledging age
    90 days
  • Range time to independence
    90 to 365 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 to 4 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 4 years

Red-and-green macaws both take care of their young. The mothers incubate the eggs, while the father forages for food and shares (regurgitates) it with the female. After the chicks hatch, both parents preen, feed the babies by regurgitation, and keep them warm. The first chick to hatch is always fed before the latter-hatched chicks. After the chicks fledge, the parents no longer care for the fledglings. However, the young macaws may continue to live with their parents for up to 1 year before being fully independent. (Berkunsky, et al., 2016; Gilardi and Munn, 1998; Renton, 2004; Renton and Brightsmith, 2009)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • male parental care
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • post-independence association with parents


Red-and-green macaws have an average lifespan of 50.1 years in captivity. As of 2008, the maximum recorded lifespan in captivity was 63.04 years. When lifespans were calculated from 1 day post-hatching, Young et al. (2012) calculated lifespans averaging 9.51 years. However, if macaws lived at least 4 years in captivity, then their average lifespans were 14.44 years.

The information of the average lifespan of wild macaws is undocumented, Collar et al. (2020) summarized the success of nests. Of 25 studied nestlings, they reported that 10 birds reached fledgling stage. Six birds were preyed upon (no predator listed) and 36% presumably starved to death.

Escherichia coli (commonly known as E. coli) has been found in red-and-green macaws that have illness or within their nests and young due to the organic material and droppings that are found in nests. It is unknown whether it contributes negatively to the gut health or overall health of the birds tested with higher quantities.

Flavivirus (West Nile Virus) was found within a captive 29-year-old female red-and-green macaw. It had caused her have issues standing, and thickened saliva and other mucosa. It is unknown if this impacts wild macaws. (BirdLife International, 2016; Brouwer, et al., 2000; Collar, et al., 2020; Hidasi, et al., 2013; Ricklefs, et al., 1998; Stockman, et al., 2010; Young, et al., 2012)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    63.04 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    9.51 to 14.44 years


Red-and-green macaws socialize along clay-licks between early morning and mid-afternoon. They are disturbed from their position by human boat and foot traffic near clay-licks and will flee until the traffic from humans have dissipated. They not only socialize with other red-and-green macaws, but also socialize with blue-and-yellow macaws (Ara ararauna), scarlet macaws (Ara macao), and hyacinth macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) that also visit the clay-licks. They let out vocal warnings to other members of their species in warning when raptors or predatory animals are spotted, sending the flock to disperse among the trees. Outside of clay-licks, red-and-green macaws socialize with either their small family group or to solely their partner.

Red-and-green macaws are monogamous and mate for life. Mating rituals involve self-and mate-preening. Both males and females take part in nest-building and both feed the chicks. They will return for multiple years to favorable nest sites, and these sites are tied to locales closer to villages.

These macaws are not swimmers and if caught in flood rains, have a low chance of avoiding drowning. Outside of breeding and nesting, red-and-green macaws rarely fight, only doing so to protecting their nests. Members of this species do not migrate. These macaws are diurnal and remain in trees at night when not nesting.

They have loud, deep, and harsh "rowaark" vocalizations. Collar et al. (2020) states they make "yelping" calls when flying.

Zoo macaws have been well-studied, and Regaiolli et al. (2021) investigated simply tasks that could be completed by macaws' feet. They examined foot "preference" in a string-pulling task, but found only individual-specific trends. Macaw cognitive and motor abilities to solve simple string tasks was high, although sample size was small.

Further. captive red-and-green macaws appear to need enrichment opportunities to stimulate their cognitive abilities. In the absence of such enrichment, macaws may exhibit stress by pulling out their feathers unnecessarily. (Berkunsky, et al., 2016; Collar, et al., 2020; Gilardi and Munn, 1998; Karubian, et al., 2005; Lantermann and Winkendick, 2015; Lee, et al., 2017; Melo, et al., 2018; Regaiolli, et al., 2021; Rodríguez, et al., 2019; Rodríguez-López, 2016)

Home Range

Although home range is not reported for red-and-green macaws, Berkunsky et al. (2016) used sample hexagons of 232.7 km^2 based on the home range for blue-throated macaws (Ara glaucogularis. These macaws' nests were significantly closer to villages than by chance alone. One the landscape, these macaws are more likely to be located closer to other red-and-green macaws than by chance.

In Peru, Collar et al. (2020) report that these birds exist in densities of 1 pair per square kilometer in Manu National Park. (Berkunsky, et al., 2016; Collar, et al., 2020)

Communication and Perception

Red-and-green macaws vocalize by squawking, calling, screaming, yelping, and chirping. Their calls have been described as being deep, harsh, and loud. They are often mentioned as sounding like they are making a "raw-awk" or "rowaark", as observed in both captive and wild individuals. They also use vocalizations to warn conspecifics of threats. These macaws may protect their nests or intimidate perceived threats by flapping their wings and diving at other birds.

Tactile communications between mates and between parents and young include preening each others' feathers, regurgitating food items (from one adult to the other and from an adult to young. (Collar, et al., 2020; Forshaw, 1973; Gilardi and Munn, 1998; Kenefick, et al., 2011; Lantermann and Winkendick, 2015; Lee, et al., 2017; Melo, et al., 2018; Renton, 2004; Renton and Brightsmith, 2009)

Food Habits

Red-and-green macaws are primarily granivorous, mainly consuming seeds. Collar et al. (2020) report that these macaws consume seeds and seed coverings from multiple genera: Jacaranda, Tetragastris, Sclerolobium, Hymenaea, Copaifera, Caryocar, Hevea, Eschweilera, Guarea, Abuta, Euterpe, Maximiliana, Micropholis, Sterculia, Spondias, Terminalia, Sapium, Croton, Parkia. These macaws also eat the pulp from the follwoing genera: Inga, Quararibea, Rheedia, Eperua, Dipteryx, Schwartzia, Borismene, Sorocea, Scheelea, Virola, and Mauritia. Less commonly, they eat fruits from 2 genera, Endopleura and Bertholletia. They occasionally also consuming leaves (from genus Carpodacus), flowers, and bark.

Red-and-green macaws in captivity are fed fruits and vegetables, pellets for large birds, seed mixes, and other various bird food mixes and treats. Red-and-green macaws need less high-fat seed content than in the wild due to reduced energy usage. (Benavidez, et al., 2018; Collar, et al., 2020; Norconk, et al., 1997)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • flowers


Red-and-green macaws have large and powerful beaks and talons for defending themselves. However, they will more often fly away to avoid predation. They will vocalize a warning if there is a known threat in their immediate vicinity and warn other macaws and parrots.

Known predators include large raptors, like roadside hawks (Rupornis magnirostris), and mammalian carnivores, like jaguars (Panthera onca).

Suspected predators include tayras (Eira barbara; a type of weasel), toucans, and hawk eagles (Spizaetus) as all have been observed in nesting areas, entering nests, and making attack dives against these macaws. However, predation has not been confirmed. (Lee, et al., 2017; Renton and Brightsmith, 2009; Rodríguez, et al., 2019)

Ecosystem Roles

Red-and-green macaws are one of many tropical bird species that can assist in the dispersal of some seeds. Tayras (Eira barbara), toucans, and large hawk eagles (Spizaetus) were seen attacking red-and-green macaws and their nests according to Renton and Brightsmith (2009).

Valkiunas et al. (2017) found apicomplexan parasites (Haemoproteus homohandai) in red-and-green macaws and found that they can cause infections and be fatal.

Pereira et al. (2018) report that feather mites in the genera Chiasmalges and Fainalges can cause itching, lesions, and secondary infections. (Benavidez, et al., 2018; Hidasi, et al., 2013; Norconk, et al., 1997; Pereira, et al., 2018; Renton and Brightsmith, 2009; Stockman, et al., 2010; Valkiunas, et al., 2017)

Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • Haemoproteus homohandai (apicomplexan protozoan)
  • Chiasmalges (feather mites)
  • Fainalges (feather mites)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Red-and-green macaws are one of the contributing species for ecotourism in parts of Brazil. The main point of interest is the claylick cliffs in which they visit daily. Melo et al. (2018) state that ecotourism assists in creating value of the protected areas and reserves in Brazil and other parts of South America by allowing visitors to view biodiverse areas.

These macaws are part of the illegal international pet trade, kept in unsanitary and small spaces before being recaptured for release or for life as a pet. Captive bred red-and-green macaws and those permitted to be exported or imported must follow rules stated by CITES Article IV, including: their export won't harm their long-term survival, that the bird was obtained legally, and the bird is transported safely and without harm.

Their feathers have also been used by native cultures as a decorative article for clothing and accessories.

Captured or relinquished macaws may also be found in rehabilitation, rescue, and education centers for those that can not be reacclimated for survival in the wild. (Berkunsky, et al., 2016; BirdLife International, 2016; Lee, et al., 2017; Melo, et al., 2018; Rodríguez, et al., 2019; Samanta, 2017)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse economic effects of red-and-green macaws on humans.

Conservation Status

Red-and-green macaws are listed as a species of “Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List. However, their populations are believe to be decreasing, especially along the borders of their geographic range. They are listed under Appendix II in CITES, which regulates safe trade and transport of live birds. These macaws have no special status under the US Migratory Bird Act, the US Federal List, or the State of Michigan List.

the most substantial threat is their collection for the legal or illegal pet trade. Young are taken from the nest for trade purposes. In the 1980s, most birds originated from Guyana and Bolivia and were shipped to the United States. The average number of birds exported per year was over 1900 individuals. However, since 1993, exporting from Guyana was banned. Additional threats include habitat destruction (especially in light of human encroachment into their habitats), habitat exploitation, and being hunted for food.

Conservation efforts include the dependence on captive breeding for legal sales in the pet trade. Some countries, like Guyana, have banned the export of wild red-and-green macaws. In the wild, land and water protections are in-place for areas they inhabit. (BirdLife International, 2016; Collar, et al., 2020; Samanta, 2017)


Mirage Cooper-Karnes (author), Radford University, Logan Platt (editor), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

male parental care

parental care is carried out by males


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


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