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SCARLET MACAW
Ara macao

Perhaps the most spectacular bird found in the Costa Rican rainforest is the macaw.

These brightly colored birds are enormous. Their bodies can measure nearly 34 inches long and can weigh over 2 pounds.

The scarlet macaw is a member of the parrot family. There are over 300 species of parrots throughout the world, almost all of them live inside the tropical rainforest.


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Scarlet Macaws build their nests high in the rainforest's trees. They spend most of their day in flight, covering huge distances.

Scarlet Macaws live in tall trees that are near rivers and coastal areas. Scarlet Macaws can be found from southern Mexico to the Amazon Basin of Brazil.

Scarlet Macaws have great need for huge areas, or ranges. They build their nests very high off the ground (over 100 feet), where they lay their eggs.

Scarlet macaws aren't very picky eaters. They eat basically any tropical fruits and nuts they can find. Their beaks are well-suited to peeling fruits and breaking into nutshells. Parrots have more movement in their beaks than most other birds, which makes a more powerful bill. This stronger bill gives the macaws and other parrots an advantage, because not a lot of other animals are able to access such a large variety of nuts

Scarlet Macaws mate for life. They are very caring parents and care for their young until the young ones reach maturity (like humans). During the day, the male and female pairs of macaws are rarely seen apart.

At night, macaws tend to roost in large groups. This is to keep them safe from predators like monkeys, toucans, snakes, and other large mammals.


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With their wide strong wings, macaws can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour. They often fly in pairs or small groups and often call to each other in loud voices.

There's no question that the Scarlet Macaw is one of the most beautiful birds in the rainforest. However it's beauty is also adding to its population decline. For centuries macaws have been kept as pets. They're a very smart bird, however, they are facing troubles throughout the rainforest because of hunting, trapping, and habitat destruction. In fact in 1989, the country of Belize (one of the macaws' habitats) was home to a total of only 24 scarlet macaws.

Many people in Costa Rica are helping to bring back the macaw's habitat and protect them from poachers and pet traders. The governments of every country that macaws live in have passed laws to help protect the birds. However, there is still a lot of work and research we need to do before this bird is saved from the brink of extinction.

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