Military Macaw

Ara militaris

The Military Macaw is a large parrot and a medium-sized member of the macaw genus. Though considered vulnerable as a wild species, it is still commonly found in the pet trade industry. A predominantly green bird, it is found in the forests of Mexico and South America.
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Appearance

The Military Macaw is 70.5 cm long on average, 99–110 across the wings and weighs 900–1,100 grams . It is mostly green in color with the head a slightly paler shade. It bears a red frontal patch, with a white bare facial area barred with narrow black lines. The flight feathers are blue and the red tail bordered with blue. The large strong beak is grey-black and the iris yellow.

The Military Macaw appears superficially similar to, and may easily be confused with the somewhat larger Great Green Macaw.
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Distribution

The Military Macaw inhabits arid woodlands and subtropical forests. They typically live at elevations of 600 to 2600 m, higher in the mountains than most macaws ever range. However, these macaws may seasonally fly down to lowlands, where they are likely in humid forests and thorny woodlands. They will nest in the tops of trees and more often in cliff-faces over 600 ft. above the ground. The three subspecies of the Military Macaw are distinguished geographically. The ''Ara m. militaris'' are often found in areas of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. The ''Ara m. mexicana'' occupy areas in Mexico and the ''Ara m. boliviana'' live in Bolivia and Argentina.
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Status

The population and distribution of the Military Macaw has been decreasing over the past fifty years. The abundance of the Military Macaw has now decreased to less than 10,000 globally. This decrease is mostly due to deforestation and the capturing of wild birds for the pet trade industry. Military Macaws are now listed as Vulnerable on the 2006 IUCN Red List Category. They are also listed as CITES Appendix I, which protects the birds from being captured for trade.

Behavior

Military Macaws live in large flocks and can live about 50–60 years in the wild. They can often be heard long before they are seen. They are a very noisy bird making a variety of loud cracking and shrieking sounds, including a loud ''kraa-aak''.

Habitat

The Military Macaw inhabits arid woodlands and subtropical forests. They typically live at elevations of 600 to 2600 m, higher in the mountains than most macaws ever range. However, these macaws may seasonally fly down to lowlands, where they are likely in humid forests and thorny woodlands. They will nest in the tops of trees and more often in cliff-faces over 600 ft. above the ground. The three subspecies of the Military Macaw are distinguished geographically. The ''Ara m. militaris'' are often found in areas of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. The ''Ara m. mexicana'' occupy areas in Mexico and the ''Ara m. boliviana'' live in Bolivia and Argentina.

Reproduction

The three subspecies will breed at different times. However this probably has more to do with the geographical region they are residing in than anything else. Breeding in the ''militaris'' occurs from January to March. The ''mexicana'' breeds from April to July and the ''boliviana'' breeds in November and December. Military Macaws are monogamous and remain with their mates for life. As they fly in large flocks the mates fly together. They will also be found flying in pairs in their feeding and roosting/nesting areas. Females will lay one to two eggs which only she will incubate for a period of approximately 26 days. Military Macaws will reach sexual maturity in two to four years.

Food

The Military Macaw's diet consists of seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, and other vegetation found on treetops in their forests. Their beaks are well adapted for eating various seeds and nuts as they have the ability to break open the hardest of shells with relative ease.

Military Macaws will leave their roosts in flocks around dawn and head to their feeding areas. They will also visit heaps of clay known as “macaw licks”. These clay licks are found along riverbanks or sometimes in the interior of the Amazon rainforest. Macaws will flock to there to feed on these clay deposits, which appear to detoxify the poisons found in the seeds and vegetation of the rest of their diet. It is also thought that this clay provides the macaws with dietary salt not available in their normal diet.

Cultural

When considering a Military Macaw as a pet, it is very important to verify the bird was bred in captivity. The U.S. Wild Bird Act forbids the commercial import of any bird listed by CITES. Though it is not among the most popular parrot species sought as a pet, the military macaw is often bred in captivity for trade and can be purchased for $800.00 to $1,000. The most common of the subspecies kept as pets is ''A. m. mexicana'' and they can live for more than 60 years in captivity.

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Status: Vulnerable | Trend: Down
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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusAra
SpeciesA. militaris