Blue and Gold Macaw

By Rani Iyer

Blue and Gold Macaw

Scientific Name: Ara ararauna

The blue and gold macaw (Ara ararauna) is one macaw you can’t miss. For one thing, its dazzling color is like the sun. Second, the bird is big—their wingspan is about three and a half foot. That is a great achievement for a bird that is born featherless. Third, anyone who has been near macaws knows how noisy they can get.

Swamps, rainforests, and forests are homes to these birds. They are naturally found in South America and Panama in Central America. One population lives in Miami, USA. Although they are not

threatened in the wild, the forests they live in are fast disappearing. This means smaller populations of the magnificent birds survive in the wild.

That is bad news for the blue and gold macaw because they love to congregate in flock of about 30 birds. After this ‘morning meeting,’ the pairs fly away to feed in their feeding ground. At sunset, they return to their roosting trees. The macaws buddy up for life, they home in pairs, usually in a tree hollow.

The blue and gold macaws are extremely wary. They screech and rise into the air at the slightest sign of danger. These birds aren’t helpless. Their legs are strong, but their beak is even more powerful. They can ‘chew up’ wood, crack nuts open, crush seeds, and bite off chunks of clay from the swamp using their beaks. And when needed, they also use their beak as their third leg!

People love the blue and gold macaw. They are colorful alright. But, even more entertaining is their impish behavior, acrobatic skills, ability to talk, and being very playful. The macaws are very expressive and can show their emotions by cocking their heads, vocalizing, flashing their eyes, and blushing. The birds also communicate by fluffing the feathers, raising their wings, prancing, bowing, shaking their tail feathers and head bobbing.

The blue and gold macaws make good pets--as long as they are not taken from their home in the wild. They love company and can be trained to perform tricks. Give them lot of sunshine and lots of time outside the cage. Macaws live up to 40 years! That is serious long time commitment for a pet!

Teacher resources: Rainforest birds

Cooperative learning for classroom

Identify macaws by their feathers

More pictures of blue-and-gold macaws

Blue and Gold Macaw (Ara ararauna)

Blue-and-gold Macaw

Blue-and-yellow macaws flying toward clay lick
Blue-and-yellow macaws flying toward clay lick
Location: Tambopata rainforest


Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna)

Pair of Blue-and-yellow macaws (Ara ararauna) flying
Pair of Blue-and-yellow macaws (Ara ararauna) flying
Location: Tambopata rainforest


Animal profiles

Bare-Faced Ibis
Blue and Gold Macaw
Common Potoo
Green Honeycreeper
Grey Winged Trumpeter
Harpy Eagle
Horned Screamer
Jabiru Stork
Malachite Kingfisher
Mealy Parrot
Northern Cassowary
Savanna hawk
Scale-crested pygmy-tyrant
Rhinoceros Hornbill
Scarlet Ibis
Wattled Jacana

Asian black bear
Black-and-white ruffed lemur
Black-faced spider monkey
Bornean Rhino
Brown capuchin monkey
Capybara [2nd profile]
Coquerel's Sifaka
Crowned Lemur
Eastern Long Beaked Echidna
Howler Monkey
Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat
Malayan Tapir
Mountain Gorilla
Plains Zebra not a rainforest species
South American tapir
South American coatimundi
Spectral Tarsier
Spider Monkey
Squirrel Monkeys
White-lipped peccary
Woolly Monkey

Green Basilisk
Leatherback Sea Turtle not a rainforest species
Pygmy stump-tailed chameleon
Spectacled Caiman

Giant Chinese Salamander
Gladiator Tree Frog
Green Poison Arrow Frog
Indian Purple Frog
Monkey Frog
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