Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: population of scarlet macaws ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: population of scarlet macaws
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: mollysue-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 18 Apr 2004 14:53 PDT
Expires: 18 May 2004 14:53 PDT
Question ID: 332241
What is the current population of scarlet macaws vs. the population
five to ten years ago?
Subject: Re: population of scarlet macaws
Answered By: tlspiegel-ga on 18 Apr 2004 17:22 PDT
Hi mollysue,

After an extensive amount of research I found the following
information for you.  There's no exact information on the Scarlet
Macaw's population, but it is known that the population has dwindled

"The scarlet macaw is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
(CITES). Appendix I includes those species that are most endangered.

The northern Central American subspecies of scarlet macaw, Ara macao
cyanoptera, has dwindled to a population of less than 1,000."

Macaw Mama answers your questions

"The number of Scarlet Macaws left in the wild is undetermined. In
recent years, there has been a significant decline in the number of
Scarlet Macaws in Central America. The reason the Scarlet Macaw is on
Cities 1 (International Endangered Species List) is that they are now
extinct in portions of their Central America habitant. However, they
are still fairly well represented in South America."



"As recent as 1989, the reported Belizean population of Scarlet Macaws
was a total of 24 birds. But in 1996, a new population of over 100
birds was "discovered" south of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife
Sanctuary. Unfortunately, over most of its range, the Scarlet macaw is
endangered, a victim of human greed - many have been taken as a
commodity in the pet trade."


The following site shows a population count in Belize from 1998:
(please note counts are in single to double digits!)

Belize Biodiversity Information System Wildlife Conservation Society
Ministry of Natural Resources' Land Information Centre 01/19/98

NAME                    Scarlet Macaw

Resident, species present all year.                       17
Resident, species present all year.                        3
Rare: low density, unlikely to be seen, few localities    16
At risk, taken and kept as pets.                          16
Vulnerable in Belize                                      16
Vulnerable/Rare throughout range                          13
Cites I                                                   13
Middle America endemic                                    13


Administrative Unit                  Occurrence         Temporal     Reference

Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve    Sighting          Dry season       4
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve                                      10
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve                                      11
Chiquibul Forest Reserve              Sighting                          12
Chiquibul Forest Reserve                                Dry season       8
Chiquibul Forest Reserve                                Dry season       9
Chiquibul Forest Reserve                                Wet season       6
Chiquibul Forest Reserve                                                11


Hydrologic Association         Reference

Macal River                         11
Macal River                         10
South Stann Creek                   10
Macal River                          4
Chiquibul River                      6
Raspaculo River                      8
Raspaculo River                     11
Chiquibul River                     11


Seeing Scarlet By Barbara Kingsolver and Steven Hopp

"They'd never seen a scarlet macaw except in a cage. 
So this best-selling author and her ornithologist husband decided to
seek the magnificent bird in one of its last strongholds:
Corcovado National Park. 

"Picture a scarlet macaw: a fierce, full meter of royal red feathers
head to tail, a soldier's rainbow-colored epaulets, a skeptic's eye
staring from a naked white face, a beak that takes no prisoners.

Now examine the background of your mental image: Probably it's a zoo
or a pet shop, with not a trace of the truth of this bird's natural
life. How does it perch or forage or speak among its kind without the
demeaning mannerisms of captivity? How does it look in flight against
a blue sky? Few birds that inhabit the cultural imagination of
Americans--north and south--are so familiar and yet so poorly known."


"Our destination was Corcovado National Park, on the Osa Peninsula,
where roughly 1,000 scarlet macaws constitute the most viable Central
American population of this globally endangered bird."


Belize Biologist Leads Fight to Stop Proposed Dam

"It will flood more than 2,000 acres of pristine rain forest along
about 22 miles [35 kilometers] of the Macal River valley.

The valley is rich in biodiversity, including a number of endangered
species. For example, the valley is the only place left in northern
and Central America where one subspecies of scarlet macaw can live
undisturbed. In other places these macaws are poached or have guards
watching the nests."


Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)

"One of the most beautiful birds in the world, these large macaws are
dressed in feathers of scarlet red, golden-yellow, deep green and
powder blue. Their large white bare facial patches are lacking of
noticeable feather lines. They are 80-96 centimeters (32 38 inches)
and average 890 grams (2 pounds). Their tail and flight feathers are
blue above and red below. When seen from the front, landing Scarlet
Macaws look almost totally red.

Their range is the most extensive of any other macaw, extending from
southeastern Mexico to southern South America. They seem to prefer dry
forests in Mexico and Central America but are found in humid and dry
forests in South America, as well as in some savanna areas. No other
macaw has been reported to eat a diet as varied as the Scarlet. The
list of fruits, nuts and seeds seems endless. Perhaps this is a
partial explanation for their expansive range. They prefer to nest in
cavities in hardwood trees.

They have suffered from habitat loss and persecution by man over much
of their range, but nowhere so dramatically as in Mexico and Central
America. Not really endangered, they are nevertheless listed in CITES
Appendix 1. This listing, I believe, is mostly to help protect the
Mexican and Central American populations, for they are plentiful
through much of their South American Range."


Healing ourselves and a dying planet

"Rare Central American subspecies of scarlet macaw in danger of
extinction due to settlers clearing for crops and poaching for the pet

Its survival threatened by illegal settlers and poachers, a rare
subspecies of scarlet macaw living in the Guatemalan jungle has lost
some of its few protectors. Biologists working for the Wildlife
Conservation Society (WCS) have been pulled out of the colorful bird's
main nesting area in fear of armed men believed to be land settlers
who burn the jungle to clear land for cattle or homes. On May 29, five
men who were probably land invaders, dressed in dark clothes and armed
with shotguns and rifles, tried to set a trap for two WCS biologists
during their rounds. The two escaped by fleeing through thick bush.
"Not even the law of the jungle applies here," said Rodrigo Morales, a
biologist and macaw specialist with the Guatemalan environmental
group, Defenders of Nature.

Environmentalists say the rare subspecies of scarlet macaw, native to
virgin jungle in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras, is
being wiped out as settlers burn down its habitat to make room for
crops, poachers steal valuable chicks and authorities turn a blind
eye. Scarlet macaws exist in other nations, such as Brazil and Costa
Rica, but the ones in southern Mexico and northern Central America
have been isolated for so long that most scientists consider them a
subspecies, known by the scientific name Ara macao cyanoptera.

Famed for their bright red plumage streaked with yellow and blue,
Central American scarlet macaws mate for life. According to Macaws
Without Borders, a conservation group dedicated to protecting the
bird, there could now be as few as 600 of the Central American
subspecies left in the wild. "We're talking about 40 nests perched on
the edge of extinction," said Florida-born environmentalist Roan
McNab, director in Guatemala of the WCS, which also runs New York's
Bronx Zoo. "This is the absolute wild west," he said of the main
Guatemalan nesting ground for the rare birds in Laguna del Tigre
National Park in the country's lawless northern Peten department.

Peten, which makes up a third of Guatemala, was mostly virgin jungle
until only a few decades ago but forest fires are rapidly turning its
protected areas into a dust bowl. The worst forest fires in years
ravaged much of the Laguna del Tigre park earlier this year before
rains began in May. Some fires spread from nearby farms practicing
"slash and burn" agriculture while others are started by land grabbers
that environmentalists say are often sponsored by large landowners
seeking to expand territory for rearing cattle. Magali Rey of
Guatemalan environmental group Madre Selva (Mother Jungle) said
powerful local interests sought to turn Peten into "one enormous
pasture." The area is also a major corridor for cocaine smuggling and
illegal migrants headed to the United States.

Before being run out of the area, biologist Jeovani Tut monitored an
artificial nest which was home to the only known hatchling this season
in the species' main nesting area. On one visit, Tut peered into the
nest balanced high above the ground in a tree towering over miles of
pristine jungle. "It's beautiful!" the biologist cried out to
colleagues waiting 30 feet below at the sight of the lone chick, a
tattered ball of red, yellow and blue feathers that squawked loudly at
his intrusion. Before being pulled off the job, Tut had been prepared
to camp under the tree where the lone chick had hatched until it could
fly, to scare away falcons and human predators.

Poachers, who use crampons to climb trees and sometimes carry
machine-guns, sell macaw chicks for hundreds of dollars.
Resource-starved police are helpless against them and last year
officers in another part of Peten were caught smuggling chicks

Human encroachment into previously isolated areas has also wrought
havoc on the natural food chain. Driven in greater numbers into macaw
nesting grounds as forests shrink, predators such as falcons are
grabbing more chicks. As species concentrate in the remaining pockets
of jungle, macaws, which have low reproduction rates, also have to
compete for nests with other birds, mammals and bees that hijack prime
spots. Biologists fasten artificial nests to trees to try to entice
the macaws to mate. "If we lose this area, we've lost the macaw," said
WCS biologist Rony Garcia."


The Palencia Breeze

"Red Bank Village (pop. 700), in Stann Creek District, is the seasonal
home of one of the largest concentrations of Scarlet Macaws (Ara
macao) in Belize and all of Central America. The story of this sleepy
Maya village first came to light about almost 8 years ago, after a
group of researchers reported an apparent slaughter of Scarlet Macaws
on a riverbank nearby. A project was subsequently undertaken,
educating the local population about the rarity of the Scarlet Macaw
and its new value as a tourist attraction for the area.
     Through grants from Belize Audubon Society (BAS), and Programme
for Belize, the "Scarlet Macaw Group" was formed, and the villagers
are learning how to profit from tourism. You have to respect the
humble honesty of these people when they admit that they didn't know
this bird was endangered.
     As part of the project, a guest cabaña has been constructed to
encourage tourists to visit, and the villagers, who are quite familiar
with the habits of the birds, have been trained as tour guides, can
reliably lead you to the best sighting locations. The guides have also
learning about all of the numerous other species of birds and wildlife
that live in the area. Many of the women produce small woven items,
baskets, embroidered pieces and other trinkets, which are available
for purchase.
      The macaws are seen in the Red Bank area for only a brief period
of time each year. They emerge from the depths of the Chiquibul forest
and congregate around Red Bank, with a voracious appetite for the ripe
fruit of the annato and the locally-named, "pole wood" trees, which
cover the hillsides. When this fruit season has passed, they depart,
only to return the following year. This season fluctuates, as does the
reappearance of the macaws. How do they know when the fruit is ripe?
Well, evidently, the macaws have "scouts;" a small group of birds come
early in the season, to survey the situation, and determine the
appropriate time for the entire flock to return.
      The macaws are often spotted along the river, and they move
along the front range as time passes, being sighted in the village
sometimes, and even from the veranda of the guest cabaña! It all
depends on the fruit. One thing is certain, everyone who goes to Red
Bank during this season, will see the Scarlet Macaw.
     It should be mentioned that numerous other birds can also be seen
in the Red Bank area including hummingbirds, oropendolas, herons,
parrots, and toucans to name a few. Although the village caters to
guests primarily during the macaw season, Red Bank could certainly be
considered a year-round birding and cultural destination, especially
convenient for visitors of nearby Placencia, about an hour's drive
away. Cultural presentations can be arranged with advance notice. The
trip would provide interesting insight into the life of the modern
Maya of Belize; and the bashful and curious, yet friendly, natives are
happy to welcome you.

     The Scarlet Macaw is arguably the most magnificent bird of the
parrot family. With their wide strong wings, macaws can reach speeds
of 35 miles per hour. They often fly in pairs or small groups and
often call to each other in raucous hoarse voices.
      Macaws appear to prefer higher elevations and riparian
(riverine) forests. They are known to have very large territories.
They prefer to nest in holes high up in trees and lay one or two eggs.
They feed on specific fruits such as polewood, roaming large areas
searching for clumps of their favorite foods.
     As recent as 1989, the reported Belizean population of Scarlet
Macaws was a total of 24 birds. But in 1996, a new population of over
100 birds was "discovered" south of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife
Sanctuary. Unfortunately, over most of its range, the Scarlet macaw is
endangered, a victim of human greed - many have been taken as a
commodity in the pet trade."


Gone Birding News

"Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) seem to be making a comeback in the
northeastern corner of the country (South America) after having been
essentially extirpated from the area several decades ago. I've
recently heard of sightings both east and west of where Jim and Eric
were birding near the mouth of the Sarapiquí River. To the east there
have been reports from Tortuguero, and to the west macaws have been
seen in the area around Laguna del Lagarto Lodge, near the San Carlos



Scarlet Macaw Ara macao cyanoptera (subspecies occurring from SE
Mexico to Nicaragua)



"Scarlet Macaws and Red Fronted Macaws are also included onto the
endangered list. Some Macaw Parrots are nearly extinct. Concerning the
Spix's Macaw Parrots, there are only seven surviving in captivity and
with only one bird left in the wild."

Seeing Scarlet

"Costa Rica?s Osa Peninsula is home to Central America?s largest
population of scarlet macaws..."



Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)


Corporate Watch

"The Macal River Valley is on of the most pristine natural areas in
Central America and its remoteness means it has largely been spared
human disturbance. Consequently it is home to many threatened and
endangered species whose habitats have been severely disrupted,
destroyed and fragmented elsewhere in the region. These include a
population of 60-100 scarlet macaw (subspecies of parrot with a
worldwide population of less than 1,000),..."


Ecotourism  Costa Rica  
Scarlet Macaws, Costa Rica, and a Great Vacation Idea

"The next morning, after our continental breakfast which comes with
the room, we were met by Richard Frisius, co-founder along with his
wife Margot of "Amigos de las Aves" ("Friends of the Birds") a
nonprofit company dedicated to saving the two species of macaws native
to Costa Rica: the Great Green or Buffon's (Ara ambigua) and the
Scarlet macaw (Ara macao). Amigos de las Aves has a successful
breeding program going and is working toward the goal of reintroducing
flocks of these wonderful birds into protected areas of the Costa
Rican rainforest.

Just a five-minute ride from the inn we arrive at their 8-acre estate,
"Flor de Mayo" ("May Flower") in Rio Segundo de Alajuela. The estate
was formerly owned by the famous botanist and orchid lover, Sir
Charles Lankaster, and was expanded to 16 acres in 1994. The estate is
now home to not only many splendid orchids, a "bamboo cathedral" as
Richard calls it (a magnificent site to behold), a citrus orchard and
organic garden, and hundreds of other beautiful tropical plants, but
to more than 80 macaws, with a total of more than 120 birds of various
species. The estate was purchased by Richard and Margot approximately
20 years ago, when Richard retired from Pan American Airlines. The
eight acres that were added in 1994 are the site for three aviaries,
two that are 100x40 feet each, housing 16 pairs of breeding cages. The
Scarlets are all located in one aviary and the Great Greens in the
other. And there is a large flight where the macaws that are to be
released can learn to fly. They plan to release the first six Scarlet
macaws later this year."


Belizean macaws and tapirs threatened by dam project


Wild Macaws


Scarlet Macaw


Audubon Society Latin America and Caribbean Program

444 Brickell Avenue, Suite 850 
Miami, Fl 33131-2405 
(305) 371-6399 / (305) 371-6398 fax 

Created in 1998, this program seeks to promote a culture of
conservation throughout Latin America and the Caribbean by Connecting
people with nature, and conserving birds, wildlife and natural
habitats for the benefit of humanity and biological diversity.


Keyword search:

Ara macaw  Scarlet Macaw 
scarlet macaw population 
scarlet macaw in the wild
scarlet macaw 
Ara macaw  Scarlet Macaw 
scarlet macaw endangered species
endangered parrots of the world
scarlet macaw conservation efforts

Best regards,
There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy