Travel Ecuador : Bird watching : Birds :

Scarlet Macaw

Macaws are the quintessential parrots of tropical regions in the New World. Often used as symbols in advertisements, they are far less common in the wild. Actually, these impressive birds are not rare in undisturbed areas, but often decrease or disappear in regions near people. The Scarlet Macaw is no exception, having become uncommon in many areas of eastern Ecuador. It can still be seen near many of the jungle lodges or on treks through the Amazon though, the long tails of this brilliantly colored bird species undulating as they fly overhead.

The Scarlet Macaw is easily recognizable as a macaw by it being a huge parrot with long wings and long tail. It has incredible, scarlet-red plumage with blue in the tail and the wings. The wings also have a bit of yellow making this bird look like it got its colors straight from a rainbow. The only similar species is the Red and Green Macaw. This large, related parrot frequents the same forests as the Scarlet Macaw but is a darker red, lacks the yellow in its wings, and has small red feathers on its face.

Behavior in Ecuador
The Scarlet Macaw is rarely seen alone. Like other parrot species, it is very social and forms long term pair bonds. When Scarlet Macaws pair up, they are always seen together in close proximity such as when giving loud screeches as they fly overhead, or when acrobatically clambering through the crowns of tall rainforest trees in search of fruits and seeds. A group of three birds seen together would be the adult pair with their young. Only one nestling is typically raised in tree cavities that function as nesting sites; the scarce tree cavities a primary factor in determining the size of macaw populations.

Habitat and distribution in Ecuador
In Ecuador, the Scarlet Macaw is restricted to the lowland rainforests of the Amazon. Healthy populations of this spectacular bird species mostly occur in remote areas such as in Yasuni National Park.