There are 17 different macaw species currently found in the wild. Many are popular as pets, and eight are endangered as of November 2011. Illegal trade by people who sell them as pets is a source of endangerment for all of the macaw species. Deforestation is also a significant factor in their population losses.
The smallest of the macaw species are called mini macaws. The red-shouldered macaw is the smallest of all, measuring just 11.8 inches (30 centimeters). The blue-winged and yellow-collared macaws both measure 15 inches (38.1 centimeters). Blue-headed macaws are 16 inches (40 centimeters) long. Chestnut fronted, or severe macaws, and red-bellied macaws are 18 inches (45.72 centimeters).
Of the standard macaw species, the hyacinth is the biggest, at 39.4 inches (100 centimeters). Second largest is the green-winged macaw, reaching a length of 36 inches (91.44 centimeters). Both of these macaws are friendly and make good pets, but the hyacinth macaw is endangered in the wild, while the green-winged macaw is not.
The little blue macaw, or Spix's macaw, has possibly been extinct in the wild since December 2000. Pale blue glaucus macaws are considered critically endangered, and may possibly be extinct. Another critically endangered macaw is the blue-throated macaw, which is often confused with the similar blue-and-gold macaw.
Endangered, but not critically so, is the Indigo macaw. This bird is often confused with the hyacinth macaw, but is smaller and not as darkly colored. Another endangered macaw is the red-fronted macaw, which is very rare in the wild but still available as a pet. The great green macaw is endangered, and commonly mistaken for the military macaw, which is smaller.
Blue-and-gold and scarlet macaws are very popular as pets. They are not endangered, and generally have sweet dispositions. Scarlet macaws are about 32 inches (81 centimeters), while blue-and-gold macaws are slightly larger, at 33 inches (83.82 centimeters). Another popular pet macaw species is the military macaw, which is 28 inches (71.12 centimeters) long and vulnerable in the wild.
Macaws are parrots that are native to the rain forests of Central and South America. They eat nuts, snails, insects and fruit with the help of their tough beaks. Macaws come in a wide array of bright colors, and in many sizes. They are social birds who, in the wild, live in small flocks.
These birds are intelligent, social, and most can learn to talk, which all contribute to their popularity as pets. The high prices they fetch makes illegal trapping and trading very profitable. Reasons for habitat loss include the lumber industry and agriculture.