Macaw facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Macaw
A blue-and-yellow macaw in flight
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Subfamily: Psittacinae
Ara chloropterus -Manu National Park, Peru -flying-8
Formation team flying: Ara chloropterus

A macaw is a New World parrot. Some of the species are large birds, the largest of the parrots. Macaws are native to Mexico, Central America, South America, and formerly the Caribbean.

Macaws, like all parrots, are unusually intelligent birds. The usual thing for parrots is to pair for life. They stay together even out of the mating season. They often fly in formation, one above the other.

Diet and clay licks

Parrots at a clay lick -Tambopata National Reserve, Peru-8c
Macaws and mealy amazons at a clay lick in Tambopata National Reserve, Peru

Macaws eat a variety of foods including seeds, nuts, fruits, palm fruits, leaves, flowers, and stems. Wild species may forage widely, over 100 km (62 mi) for some of the larger species such as Ara araurana (blue & yellow macaw) and Ara ambigua (great green macaw), in search of seasonally available foods.

In the western Amazon, hundreds of macaws and other parrots descend to exposed river banks to lick clay almost daily, – except on rainy days.

It was suggested that parrots and macaws in the Amazon basin eat clay from exposed river banks to neutralize toxins.

The clay eating behavior of parrots was studied at clay licks in Peru. Apparently, macaws and other birds and animals prefer clays with higher levels of salt. Sodium is a vital element which is scarce in environments over 100 kilometers from the ocean.

Related pages

Images for kids


Macaw Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.