The Military Macaw goes by the scientific name Ara militaris. These social birds form flocks in the wild and are part of the order of Parrots in the animal kingdom. It is a species of bird from the Ara genus and is part of the Psittacidae family of true parrots. Originally they come from a range of different places throughout Central and South America, depending upon their subspecies. This encompasses the countries of Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela, and even a small section of Argentina.
Their numbers are declining and they are a threatened species of bird that is estimated to only have 2000 to 7000 individuals left in the wild. A lot of this is due to the loss of their natural habitat which is arid wooded areas and humid forests, which are normally at high elevations of 600 meters or more (some of the highest ranges for macaws). The average size for these birds is around 70 to 80 cm and their average weight is about 0.9 to 1.1 kg.
The 3 different subspecies of Macaw include the following:
- Ara militaris militaris
- Ara militaris mexicana
- Ara militaris boliviana
With each one being located in different ranges across and going by their namesake.
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|Military Macaw, Green Macaw
|Green, red, blue
|Around 70 to 80 cm (27.5 to 31.5 inches)
|Approximately 0.9 to 1.1 kilograms (32 to 39 ounces)
|50 to 60 years
|Conservation Status (IUCN)
|Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina
|Mountainous forest, sometimes lowland forest
|Fruits, nuts, vegetation
|Social, loud, curious
|Ara militaris militaris
Ara militaris mexicana
Ara militaris boliviana
Macaws are very social creatures that live in large flocks in the wild. This is why in captivity it is recommended that they are paired up with another bird to prevent boredom and loneliness. Because of their intelligence, these birds need a fair amount in their environment (such as toys and foraging items) to placate their curious nature. Their large beaks are very powerful and so they do not make the best pet to own if you have a family with small children.
They can be very loud birds and have a large vocal range. They will frequently make contact calls if they are left on their own as this is their way of trying to find their way back to the flock. Their vocal range includes the ability to talk, something which all Macaws can do. You can train your Military Macaw to say a number of different words or phrases (in fact, they’ll pick up words even if you don’t train them). They can also be trained to solve simple puzzles and tricks. Their intelligence is one of the highest in all of the animal kingdom.
These large birds will need a large amount of space to be housed in. They need room to stretch their wings along with room for all of the other items that need to be in their cage to keep them entertained. As a Macaw, this bird has a very powerful beak and so the cage you need for it must be extra strong and made from bars that are very thick (otherwise you Macaw will make short work of them). We have a dedicated guide to the best Macaw cages you can buy that (you can read here) for further information.
Inside of the cage you should keep plenty of toys, shreddable items, foraging objects, bathing options, perches and feeding or watering trays. In particular, you need these items to be extra strong, be prepared to get through a number of toys with these birds. Stainless steel objects tend to last the longest.
Each day, you should provide your Military Macaw with a lot of time out of the cage so that they can get attention from you, play and exercise out of the cage. Because of their intelligence, they need to be kept stimulated. Occasionally their beaks may need to be trimmed and their nails clipped. You should keep these birds in an environment that has a temperature of around 21 to 27 degrees celsius, similar to what they would have in their native environment.
The Military Macaw has its name because its appearance looks like that of a military uniform. It has mostly green feathers around its chest, neck, top of the head and upper parts of its wings. The undersides of these wings are yellow. The lower parts of its wings are a bright blue. The tail feathers are a bright red for the most part but then they end again with another section of yellow and bright blue feathers. They have a dark beak and a white face that has a section of red feathers above the beak. Around the face is a small section of darkened feathers. It can be hard to tell the difference between the genders of this Macaw and so DNA testing might be needed. Click on the video below to see this bird in action:
Different subspecies can be identified via their looks as well. In terms of size, the Mexicana is the largest of the subspecies and the Militiaris is the smallest. Boliviana is different because its throat is reddish colored and the blue sections of feathers are a darker color.
Military macaws can make a range of different calls such as contact calls, shrieking, flight calls, songs, and with humans they will mimic your speech. These loud birds can be heard from quite a distance and they’re particularly noisy when the sun is rising or setting. Click on one of the examples below to hear the different types of sound that a Military Macaw can make:
The average lifespan of a Military Macaw is 50 to 60 years. Because of this long lifespan, many pet Military Macaws will outlive their owners.
The average price you will be expected to pay for a Military Macaw is $2500. Age, health, feather markings and breeding potential will affect this price. Since these birds are vulnerable and their numbers are declining in the wild, be very careful where you get your birds from. The source should be a registered breeder that can supply official documents. Also factor in the cost of supplies for foods, toys, perches, cages, and medical coverage.
When breeding these birds will normally lay clutches of about 2 to 3 eggs that will incubate for 3 and a half weeks before hatching. The fledging then happens about 3 months later. This breeding season happens at different times depending upon where the bird is located in the world, but for the Mexican subspecies this would be around April to July.
Maintaining a healthy diet for pellets, fruit and vegetables will allow your birds to live a long healthy life. Plenty of exercise opportunities should also be provided. Avoid the common mistake of providing too many seed based foods which can lead to obesity. Common health conditions you need to keep an eye out for include Macaw Wasting Disease, Macaw Acne, overgrown beaks and foot sores.