Ara ararauna

Blue and Gold Macaw


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genus: Ara
  • Species: ararauna

Scientific Name: Ara ararauna

IUCN Red List Status and Population

Least Concern (Birdlife International 2016)

Population: > 10,000 mature individuals, population declining (Birdlife International 2016)

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species states that the number of mature individuals of blue-and-yellow macaws is unknown (2016).

According to the IUCN, the population trend is justified due to the species suspecting to lose 20-35% of suitable habitat within three generations (38 years), based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (2016). The species tolerance of fragmentation and degradation has made predictions to a species decline of >25% over three generations.

Species Information

Weight: 4.5 oz to 3.7 pounds National Geographic (“Macaws” 2017).

Length: 11.8 to 39.5 inches.

Lifespan: Up to 60 years in the wild (National Geographic) with most living 30-35 years.

Reproduction: Blue-and-yellow macaws form monogamous pairs, where they mate for the rest of their lives (Catania 2011). If they lose their mate, they will find another one to replace them. They reach sexual maturity around 3-4 years of age, breeding every 1-2 years during the first half of the year (Catania 2011). Macaws nest in high trees in cavities that are made by other animals. Females will lay between 2-3 eggs with an incubation period of 24-28 days. Young begin to feather after 10 days of hatching and become independent in 3 months (Catania 2011). Both males and females care for their young and show extreme aggression towards intruders (Catania 2011).

Diet: Macaws are frugivorous, feeding on mostly seeds, nuts, and fruits. Their beaks are extremely powerful, and allow the bird to crack open nut shells.

Natural Behavior: Blue-and-yellow macaws are typically found in pairs, but also congregate in a group called flocks. These birds are extremely wary of any sign of danger, and are extremely vocal (Catania 2011). They fly closely together with their wings almost touching each other. They have wonderful vision and complex social behavior and vocalizations (Catania 2011).


Habitat Types: tropical and subtropical forests, woodlands, savannahs, swamps, riparian areas (Catania 2011).

Habitat Range: Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Birdlife International 2016).

Introduced to Puerto Rico, Regionally extinct in Trinidad and Tobago

Current Home Range: These birds have an extremely large home range, although declines are contributed to habitat loss and destruction, overhunting, and capturing for the exotic pet trade (Johnson).


The blue-and-yellow macaw is highly traded as an exotic et since 1981 and has been recorded to be wild caught when confiscated from international traders (Birdlife International 2016). It is listed in CITES Appendix II 55.531 to protect its conservation value (Birdlife International 2016).  Humans also capture macaws to use their feathers or as a food source (Catania 2011). The World Parrot Trust states that over 60,000 blue-and-yellow macaws have been trapped in the wild as of 2015, with loss of 1/3 of their habitat (“Blue-and-yellow Macaw” 2017).

Known predators to blue-and-yellow macaws are harpy eagles as well as hawk eagles. They attack the macaws while they are in flight (Catania 2011).

Exotic Pet Trade

Blue-and-yellow macaws are the most common macaw kept as pets, as they breed well in captivity and easy to obtain. Their popularity in the pet trade has extreme consequences, causing the local extinction in several native areas due to nestlings being removed. When babies are taken away, many times the parents are also killed when they try and protect their offspring (Johnson). The abundance of blue-and-yellow macaws in the pet trade makes them the least expensive out of the parrot family to own.  Blue-and-yellow macaws are an important part of the tropical forest ecosystem. They consume and disperse seeds and heavily influence forest dynamics (Catania 2011).


  1. BirdLife International 2016. Ara ararauna. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22685539A93078598.
  2. “Blue-and-Yellow Macaw”. World Parrot Trust 2017.
  3. Catania, K. 2011. “Ara ararauna”, Animal Diversity Web
  4. Johnson, Sibylle. “Blue & Gold Macaws aka Blue & Yellow Macaws”. Beauty of Birds
  5. “Macaws”. National Geographic.