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What Is a Blue-And-Yellow Macaw?

A.M. Boyle
A.M. Boyle

A blue-and-yellow macaw is a type of bird in the parrot family. People easily recognize these birds by their vibrant blue and yellow feathers, but they also have other distinctive characteristics. Due to its intelligence, loyalty, and ability to mimic human speech, the blue-and-yellow macaw makes a popular companion pet. While some wild populations of this parrot are prospering, some experts fear external pressures may eventually endanger this species.

There are many different types of macaws, all falling within the group of birds known as parrots. Sometimes referred to by its formal name, ara ararauna, the blue-and-yellow macaw is distinguished by vivid blue feathers on the top of its body and bright, yellow-gold feathers lining the chest and undersides of the wings. The bird has a white face and green forehead, with a dark crescent under the chin and curved black lines under the eyes. The hooked beak is normally black in color and is very strong. Typically, the bird not only uses its beak to crack nuts common to its diet but also to help with climbing and hanging onto tree limbs.


These birds can grow up to 34 inches (about 86 cm) and can weigh upwards of 3 pounds (about 1.4 kg). They have broad wingspans, often reaching 45 inches (about 114 cm) from tip to tip. Ornithologists believe that the blue-and-yellow macaw mates for life, and a pair will nest together high up in the trees, usually within a hollow in a trunk. The female will lay two to three eggs at a time, and both the male and female aggressively protect the nest. After about 28 days, when the eggs hatch, the mother bird feeds only the strongest of the newborns, while any weaker siblings are left to starve.

Hatchling macaws have no feathers and cannot see. The feathers don’t begin to fill in until the baby is about 10 to 12 weeks old. Even after the young birds have their feathers and can fly, they usually remain with the parents for about three to four months before they go off on their own.

Due to the beauty and intelligence of the blue-and-yellow macaw and the bird’s ability to imitate sounds, including human speech, many people enjoy having them as pets. Given the fact that these macaws are social by nature, they tend to bond closely with their keepers and become very loyal companions. A blue-and-yellow macaw can live up to 60 years, so when a person adopts one as a pet, it will likely be a long-term relationship.

Generally, the blue-and-yellow macaw is considered a neotropical parrot. The term refers to the area that constitutes the bird’s primary habitat, which includes most of South America and southern Mexico. Although considered endangered in some areas, such as Paraguay and Trinidad, the blue-and-yellow macaw is still widespread in other areas, especially within its primary habitat. Some experts fear, however, that the deforesting of these areas and the harvesting of the macaws to sell as pets may considerably diminish their numbers over time.

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