The scarlet macaw, also known as the flag macaw or, scientifically, Ara macao , is on the red list of threatened species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), although it is among those species of least concern, due to because the magnitude of the threats and their consequent disappearance are not in a critical state. Therefore, its extinction can still be fought.
The red gucamaya or flag
The scarlet macaw is a species of Central America and South America, and belongs to the Psittacidae family, with around 372 species belonging to this family. It inhabits the trees of savannas, forests and low-altitude jungles, and can be found in countries such as Honduras, Panama, Mexico , Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.
Morphologically, it can measure between 80 and 100 cm and weigh approximately one and a half kilograms, making it, along with the blue macaw, the largest of its kind. Its plumage, as its name reflects, is of a characteristic intense red, although its wings also have blue and yellow tones.
They feed mainly on nuts, seeds and fresh fruits, although they can also consume small insects and even the nectar of some flowers.
It is a social and monogamous bird , so it is usually found as part of large groups or in pairs , with which it reproduces several times a year. After the laying of the eggs, both the female and the male are responsible for their incubation, in the same way that both are responsible for caring for and feeding the young once the eggs have hatched, until, after approximately three months, they begin to fly and are self-sufficient to feed and move around.
Macaws are very long-lived birds , being able to live between 30 and 50 years in captivity and an average of 15 or 20 years in freedom, due to existing threats, although if they manage to survive them, they can live up to 40 years.
The illegal hunting is the main cause of the scarlet macaw is in danger of extinction , due mainly to interest in the market, as domestic fowl, as their colorful plumage much attention. At first glance, it seems that this should not influence their disappearance since their hunting does not imply their direct death but rather their commercialization. However, the problem appears when the buyer must take care of the bird, since in most cases, they do not know the care and needs of the animal. In addition, the scarlet macaw is a social animal so it tends to become depressed or adopt unnatural behaviors when it is in a cage, its adaptation to other means being quite complicated.
It should be noted that poachers are not only interested in hunting adult species, but many of them are also dedicated to the search, collection and theft of macaw eggs.
Another cause of the macaw’s extinction is the destruction of its habitat . The felling and deforestation of forests for the extraction of resources, construction of infrastructures or the agricultural use of the land causes the loss of the trees, which play a fundamental role in the life of the scarlet macaw, since it is, in them, in those who build their nests and spend most of their life.
On the other hand, natural predators are another factor that adds to the extinction of the macaw, such as black hawks, which feed on the chicks found in the nests.
There are at least three areas in which the scarlet macaw is protected :
- Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in Mexico.
- Chiquibul National Park (Belize)
- Maya Biosphere Reserve (Guatemala)
The measures created and implemented to promote the protection and care of the species in these territories focus on monitoring their nests, caring for the chicks, either in the nest itself, or transferring them to laboratories where they can be apply more affective means and guarantee their existence. In fact, this measure promotes the reproduction of macaws, having a double egg laying, which benefits the increase in population.
The education of the chick in captivity is a determining factor for its subsequent survival in the wild, so it is necessary to pay special attention not to create links with human beings, as well as to feed them with the same foods that they would find in the natural environment.