The majestic macaw are beautiful birds with long tails and bright colorful feathers. They are part of the parrot family. They are native to Mexico, Central America and South America. They tend to live in rainforests but some prefer woodlands. They are known for their large beaks, long tails and their facial patch. Although the facial patch is larger in some variations than others, a macaw’s facial feather pattern is as unique as a fingerprint.
The largest variation of the macaw is the hyacinth, the great green and the green-winged. The smallest version, the red-shouldered macaw, is no larger than a parakeet.
There are 19 species of macaws with some of them actually extinct and others very close to it. Some of species still in existence are the glaucous, hyacinth, indigo, spix, blue-and-yellow, blue-throated, military, great green, scarlet, red-and-green, red-fronted, chestnut-fronted, miliquin, red-bellied, blue-headed, golden-collared and the red-shouldered macaw.
Macaws eat all kinds of food including seeds, fruits, palm fruits, leaves, flowers and stems. One interesting note is that in the wild macaws are known to eat clay from exposed riverbanks. Since some macaws tend to food that contain toxic substances, the clay neutralizes these toxins. The behavior is only seen in the wild and only in the western Amazon region. There is another theory is that the birds eat the clay as a source of cobalamin otherwise known as vitamin B12.
The beautiful and colorful feathers of the macaw throughout history have been a sought-out commodity for humans. The Inca, Wari and Nazca people are known throughout history to either hunt the bird or trade for its feathers. The feathers were used as adornment and were also found in ceremonial and burial sites. The feathers have also been used to create textiles.