Macaw, Scarlet

Ara macao 

Very colorful with scarlet above and below, a red tail, yellow wing coverts, electric blue on the wings and lower back. The bill is very large, strong and curves downward. Neck is short. Feet are zygodactyl (two toes are forward and two are backward). They reach a length of up to 36 inches from head to tail.








Central America, Mexico to Bolivia


Tropical rain forests and woodlands

Life Expectancy

50 years

Sexual Maturity

3 to 4 years


In the wild, they eat fruits, nuts and seeds. In the Zoo, they are fed parrot pellets and a fruit mix.


IUCN - Least Concern


Scarlet macaws nest high up in tree cavities. Clutch size varies between 2 and 4 eggs. Incubation period lasts from 24 to 26 days. Pair bonds are quite strong, and breeding occurs year round. Large flocks roost in tall trees.


Their large, strong bill allows them to have great manipulative ability. Even tough Brazil nuts can be cracked very easily. The pressure exerted in a single bite can exceed 500 pounds per square inch. Zygodactyl feet (two toes in front, two toes in back) greatly assist with climbing trees and handling food items and objects. Claws are strong and powerful.

Special Interests

An Indian ruler (the Maharajah of Nawangar) had a parrot that was 115 years old. It traveled with him in a Rolls Royce and had an international passport of its own. In the parrot family, Psittacidae, there are 328 species in 77 genera.



Trapping and habitat destruction are the main causes for the reduction in numbers of scarlet macaws. The illegal pet trade threatens approximately one-third of all parrot species.

Jacksonville Zoo History

Early records indicate that the first member of this species arrived in the Zoo’s animal collection in 1956. This species has successfully bred here.


Emerald Forest Aviary