Fun Macaw Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 12, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Macaw facts give a sneak peek into the colorful avian world.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.4 Min

Macaws are a group of brilliantly colored New World parrots native to North America, South America, and Central America. Characterized by a muscular build, powerful beaks, and dazzling hues like blue, green, yellow, and red, these birds are an absolute treat for the eyes.

Macaws belong to the parrot family Psittacidae and are among one of the most intelligent birds found in the wild. Although a macaw may look a lot like a parrot in terms of their beaks and general body build, macaws stand out due to the remarkable color combination of their plumage.

All macaws are parrot, but not all parrots are macaws! The parrot family  Psittacidae has several genera, out of which six (Ara, Cyanopsitta, Anodorhynchus, Diopsittaca, Orthopsittaca, and Primolius) include the macaws.

Macaws are intelligent and extraordinary birds with a stunning show of exquisite colors. Read on for more interesting and fun facts about the striking species of macaws!

If you like reading about the macaw species of birds, you may also find facts on great green macaw and barn owl interesting.

Macaw Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a macaw?

A macaw is a bird from the family of parrots (Psittacidae).

What class of animal does a macaw belong to?

Macaws belong to class Aves, which means they are birds.

How many macaws are there in the world?

The number of surviving macaws in the wild depends on the individual species of macaws.

For example, macaw species such as the Spix's macaw is extinct in the wild, the blue-throated macaw (critically endangered) has 50-249 individuals left, the scarlet macaw is in abundance, the red-fronted macaw has 134-272 birds left globally, and the hyacinth macaw has around 4,300 living mature individuals (according to IUCN data, 2018 and 2016).

Where do macaws live?

Macaws mostly live in tropical rainforests. Besides the forest, the macaw habitat may also include grasslands and semi-desert regions.

What is a macaw's habitat?

Most macaw species are found in North America (mostly Mexico), Central America, and South America. Earlier, macaws were found in the Caribbean as well.

Macaws primarily inhabit tropical rainforests, but even within the forest, the habitat of macaws varies with the species. For example, while red-bellied macaws prefer swampy areas and palm groves, the scarlet macaws can be spotted in the lowlands.

On the other hand, the hyacinth macaw flips between habitats that may include palm forests, canopied rainforests, and grassy marshes. Macaws nest in the holes and crevices of trees.

Who do macaws live with?

Macaws usually live in large flocks of 10-30 individuals. They may also be found living in family groups or pairs. Pet macaws are like companion parrots and are well-suited for co-inhabiting with humans.

How long does a macaw live?

Even though the lifespan of macaws depends on the species, they are known to live for an average of around 60 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Macaws are known to mate for life, that is, the birds of a mating pair stick together until one of the mates dies. Breeding is seasonal and usually occurs about once a year.

Depending on the species, a female macaw may lay around 1-4 eggs in nests built inside holes and crevices of trees. The eggs are mostly incubated by the mother, and the father is responsible for foraging and bringing food to the mother and the chicks.

The macaw offspring are born with their eyes shut with a sparse covering of feathers and are taken care of by both the parents. The chicks do not grow their plumage until they are about 10 weeks old.

What is their conservation status?

The rampant pet trade and habitat loss have put several macaw species at risk of being endangered or totally extinct. Hence, all species of macaws fall under the ambit of conservation efforts, and accordingly, they have been included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Currently, nine species of macaws are of Least Concern, two are Vulnerable, one is Near Threatened, three are Endangered, and two are listed as Critically Endangered.

Macaw Fun Facts

What do macaws look like?

Macaws are known for their vibrant plumage.

Male and female macaws look the same and are said to be indistinguishable. The most striking physical aspect is their vibrantly colored feathers which sets them apart from the parrots.

The color may be blue, red, yellow, green, or a combination of two or more colors. Their tail feathers are long, and their hard, sickle-shaped beaks are adapted to the macaw diet comprising hard food such as nuts and seeds.

Some species may also have white facial patches around the eyes or beaks. Like most other parrots, the macaws have backward-pointing first and fourth toes.

How cute are they?

With their dazzling array of colored feathers, macaws don't just look cute but extremely graceful and elegant!

How do they communicate?

Both wild and pet macaws are extremely vocal birds and communicate with each other or with their owners through a variety of sounds and calls, screams, and squawks. These loud vocals are used by the birds to communicate with their own members in the flock or for marking territories.

Pet macaws that are habituated to listening to human speech can mimic it and tend to be very talkative.

How big is a macaw?

The average macaw size varies with the species. One of the largest among them is the exquisite hyacinth macaws with a body length of up to 3 ft 3 in (1 m) and an individual wing length of 15.2- 16.7 in (38.6–42.4 cm).

The smallest is red-shouldered macaws or mini macaws, which are on average 14 in (35.6 cm) long. Macaws are comparable in size to the green rose-ringed parakeets.

How fast can a macaw fly?

The red-fronted macaws can fly at a velocity of up to 40 mph (60 kph).

How much does a macaw weigh?

The largest type of macaw, the hyacinth macaws, weigh between 2.6-3.7 lb (1.2-1.7 kg). The smallest ones, that is, red-shouldered macaws, weigh about 0.36 lb (165 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male and yellow macaws do not have any distinct names.

What would you call a baby macaw?

Like most other birds, a baby macaw is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Macaws are omnivores, and their food mainly consists of nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, and snails. Their strong and hard beaks are perfectly suited to crack open the shells of nuts and seeds.

Are they dangerous?

Macaws can be quite aggressive and dangerous if mishandled or harassed. They are wild birds that are fully capable of doing some serious damage with their powerful beaks.

Would they make a good pet?

Beautiful macaws are one of the most loyal and affectionate pets if taken proper care of. Being highly intelligent and sociable birds, macaws are kept as companion parrots. However, since the pet trade has threatened the existence of macaws in the wild, keeping them as pets is discouraged.

Did you know...

The group of larger macaws includes the genera Ara, Cyanopsitta, and Anodorhynchus. The smaller group of mini macaws includes the genera Primolius, Orthopsittaca, and Diopsittaca.

The group of blue macaws includes the hyacinth macaw, the Spix's macaw, and the Lear's macaw. Hybrid macaws are common in the pet trade. The most common hybrid varieties include the  Catalina, miligold macaw, and harlequin macaw.

Macaws normally reach sexual maturity between 2-10 years. With specific variations, the incubation period of macaw eggs ranges between 23-30 days. Macaw pairs don't just mate but also display unique courting behavior. They share food, roost together, and even groom each other's feathers.

Macaws have excellent eyesight; while humans can see only green, blue, and red wavelengths, macaws can see the violet wavelength as well. Their eyes are positioned in a way that facilitates 360-degree viewing.

In addition, the eye bulb of macaws can move inside their sockets, allowing the bird to look out for danger without turning the head. Macaws are very good at perceiving the rhythm, pitch, and tone of sounds, a quality that helps them to communicate with each other based on variations in pitch and tone.

Macaws have a dry and scaly tongue with a bone inside it, an anatomical feature that helps the bird to break open and eat hard food.

Macaws are capable of traveling distances of up to 15 miles (24 km) every day in search of food.

The different kinds of macaws

There are 19 documented species of the macaw bird, and this includes both critically endangered and extinct species in the wild.

Out of all the wild species of macaws, some of the most popular ones include the blue-throated macaw, blue and yellow macaw (blue and gold macaw), the red-fronted macaw,   hyacinth macaw (blue macaw), scarlet macaw, Spix's macaw, and military macaw.

Symbolism of the macaw

Several South and Central American tribes associate the macaws with healing and vitality; they believe that macaws drop seeds of fruits and nuts through their excreta and spread life in the forest. Since macaws form pair bonds, they are often considered to be a symbol of lasting relationships.

To the Bororo tribe of Brazil, the macaw is a messenger of their ancestors and the Gods. For the Inga tribe of Colombia, macaws represent ease and grace and are believed to carry the prayers of mortals to the realms above.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including secretary bird, or tawny owl.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our macaw coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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