Blue-winged macaw -- 蓝翅金刚鹦鹉 (Primolius maracana)

Blue-winged macaw
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Blue-winged macaw fact file

Blue-winged macaw description

GenusPrimolius (1)

The increasingly rare and exotic blue-winged macaw (Primolius maracana) can be distinguished by its high, screeching call and vibrant, colourful plumage. This aptly named bird has characteristically bright turquoise flight feathers, as well as a vivid turquoise upper-tail and crown. It has a striking red patch on its chest which contrasts with its pale green body, resulting in a stunning array of colours (5). The blue-winged macaw has bright amber eyes which stand out against the pale yellow bare patch on its cheeks. It has a black bill and brown legs and feet. Both the male and female blue-winged macaw are similar in size and appearance (6).

Ara maracana, Propyrrhura maracana.
Guacamayo Maracaná.
Length: 43 cm (2)
265 g (3)

Blue-winged macaw biology

The blue-winged macaw forages over a large area of forest for seeds such as those from the plant Cnidoscolus phyllacanthus, as well as succulent, exotic fruits. While eating, this macaw drops many seeds on the forest floor, helping the forest to regenerate (9).

The blue-winged macaw roosts in characteristically small flocks of up to 15 individuals (10). Flight activity is greatest in the mornings when roosts are vacated for foraging and at dusk when they return for safety overnight (8).

Little is known about the breeding season of the blue-winged macaw, but it is thought to extend from December through to February in northeast Brazil (5). The female blue-winged macaw will lay 2 or 3 eggs and incubate them for 26 to 27 days (6).


Blue-winged macaw range

Historically, the blue-winged macaw inhabited a large range across Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. However, its population has dramatically declined, and there have been no recent records of this species in Argentina (5).


Blue-winged macaw habitat

The blue-winged macaw is fairly adaptable, occupying a variety of forest habitats (7), such as evergreen and deciduous forest, Atlantic forest, humid forest and mangrove forest (5). It has also been found to use man-made habitats such as eucalyptus plantations (8).


Blue-winged macaw status

The blue-winged macaw is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1) and is listed on Appendices I and II of CITES (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Blue-winged macaw threats

The population of the blue-winged macaw is currently declining, and this species is becoming increasingly rare in the southern parts of its range. However, it still remains widespread over much of its Brazilian range and has returned to areas in its historical range in southern Rio de Janeiro (5).

Exploitation of the blue-winged macaw for the cage-bird trade is a major threat (5). Larger macaws are often more expensive, so slightly smaller species such as the blue-winged macaw are in higher demand as pets (6).

Another major threat to the blue-winged macaw is habitat loss. Deforestation in this species’ range has severely limited nest availability and foraging areas. Only 7.5 percent of the original Atlantic forest of Brazil remains (8), and deforestation is of particular concern in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where less than two percent of the semi-deciduous forest is left (9). Both these areas are particularly important to the survival of the blue-winged macaw (5).

In addition, the blue-winged macaw is disliked by farmers as it is considered a pest to crops and therefore persecuted. This is thought to be an important reason for why the population in Argentina has declined so dramatically (5).


Blue-winged macaw conservation

Currently, the blue-winged macaw is listed on Appendices I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to ensure that international trade of this species is only permitted in exceptional circumstances (4).

The blue-winged macaw is present in several protected areas, including the large protected park of south-eastern Brazil, the Caetetus Ecological Station (9). However, some protected areas such as the Serra Negra Biological Reserve are far too small to cover the entire range of this highly mobile macaw. In the future, wild populations need to be monitored and investigations into the impact of the pet trade need to be continued (5).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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More information on parrots and their conservation:

Learn more about the blue-winged macaw:



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This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


Atlantic forest
A highly biodiverse region found along the east coast of South America, comprising several different vegetation types, including high-altitude grassland, and lowland and montane forest.
Deciduous forest
Forest consisting mainly of deciduous trees, which shed their leaves at the end of the growing season.
Evergreen forest
Forest consisting mainly of evergreen trees, which retain leaves all year round. This is in contrast to deciduous trees, which completely lose their leaves for part of the year.
Flight feathers
The feathers at the end of the wing, involved in flight.
To keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
Refers to plants that lose their foliage for a very short period.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
  2. Forshaw, J.M. (2010) Parrots of the World. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
  3. World Parrot Trust - Blue-winged macaw (November, 2011)
  4. CITES (November, 2011)
  5. BirdLife International (November, 2011)
  6. Kumar, A. (2003) Aviculture. Discovery Publishing House, New Delhi.
  7. Marsden, S.J., Whiffin, M., Sadgrove, L. and Guimara, P. (2000) Parrot populations and habitat use in and around two Brazilian Atlantic Forest reserves. Biological Conservation, 96: 209-217.
  8. Evans, B.E.I., Ashley, J. and Marsden, S.J. (2005) Abundance, habitat use, and movements of blue-winged macaws (Primolius maracana) and other parrots in and around an Atlantic Forest reserve. Ecology of Brazilian Parrots, 117: 154-164.
  9. Nunes, M.F.C. and Galetti, M. (2006) Use of forest fragments by blue-winged macaws (Primolius maracana) within a fragmented landscape. Biodiversity Conservation, 16: 953-967.
  10. Lees, A.C., Davis, B.J.W., Oliveira, A.V.G. and Peres, C.A. (2008) Avifauna of a structurally heterogeneous forest landscape in the Serro dos Caiabis, Mato Grosso, Brazil: a preliminary assessment. Continga, 29: 149-159.

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Blue-winged macaw  
Blue-winged macaw

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