Green-Winged Macaw (Personality, Lifespan, Breeding, Care, and Facts)

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Ali Shahid

The Green-Winged Macaw, scientifically known as Ara chloropterus, is a stunning bird that adds vibrant red and green colors to the Neotropical region. It hails from the northern part of South America and plays a crucial role in the local ecosystem. This bird contributes to its habitat by spreading seeds and nuts across various landscapes, including forests, swamplands, and open savannahs. 

Not just a wild creature, the Green-Winged Macaw has also become a popular and affectionate pet, forming strong connections with its human friends. However, beyond its role as a pet and seed distributor, this majestic bird serves as a symbol of the diverse life we need to safeguard. 

It faces challenges from deforestation and the pet trade, making its story a compelling call to action. The story of this bird illustrates the complex relationships among all living organisms and demonstrates the critical role each species plays in maintaining the delicate balance of our planet.

General Overview of Green Winged Macaw

Common NameGreen Winged Macaw, Red and Green Macaw
Scientific NameAra chloropterus
Origin and HabitatThese birds are indigenous to the lush forests and woodlands across northern and central South America, inhabiting areas from Brazil to Paraguay, and from Colombia to Venezuela. They thrive in both humid lowland forests and drier deciduous forests, as well as occasionally in savannahs.
SizeApproximately 95 cm / 37 inches in length.
WeightRanges from 1.25 to 1.7 kg.
ColorationPredominantly deep red with sections of green on the upper wing coverts and blue on the back, rump, and tail. Their legs are gray, and they have a horn-colored upper beak with a black lower mandible.
PersonalityKnown for their sociable, curious, and intelligent nature, these macaws form strong bonds with both their avian companions and human caretakers.
Talking AbilityWhile primarily using squawks and trills for communication, they are capable of mimicking human speech to some extent.
Care LevelRequires a diet rich in fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetation, along with significant social interaction and large nesting spaces.
LifespanCan live between 60 to 80 years, sometimes longer under human care.
Breeding FactsMonogamous, typically forming lifelong pairs. They breed in the treetops and are known for their small clutch size.
PricePrices can vary widely, but they are often found in the range of $1,500 in the pet trade.
Places to BuyWhile specific vendors are not listed, these macaws are commonly available through pet trade channels.
IUCN StatusListed as Least Concern (LC), though their populations are under threat from habitat destruction and illegal trade..

Habitat and Distribution

The Green-Winged Macaw, also known as the red-and-green macaw is found in various habitats throughout the Neotropical region. These birds are native to the northern half of South America, spanning from eastern Panama through countries like Colombia, Venezuela, and the Guianas, extending westward to Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, and Formosa in Argentina. They inhabit tropical rainforests, lowlands, foothills, and occasionally open areas like deciduous forests, with a preference for interior regions over coastal zones.

To adapt to their surroundings, Green-winged Macaws exhibit unique traits. They visit “macaw licks,” clay formations rich in essential minerals and salts, to neutralize toxins from their seed and nut diet. Their sturdy beaks crack open hard nuts, and their long tails provide balance, while their zygodactyl feet enable them to grip branches and food. Their vibrant plumage camouflages them in the rainforest canopy, protecting them from predators.

Although these macaws have a wide distribution from Panama to Argentina, east of the Andes Mountains, they confront threats like habitat loss due to deforestation and the illegal pet trade. Some areas, such as Argentina, have seen extinction. Despite these challenges, the species is currently labeled as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List, with an estimated population ranging from 50,000 to 499,999 mature individuals. Conservation efforts, emphasizing habitat protection and trade regulations, are vital to ensure the Green-Winged Macaw’s survival in the wild.

Physical Description

Green-Winged Macaws are among the largest macaw species. With a length of up to three feet and a weight ranging from 2.3 to 3.8 pounds (1.05 to 1.71 kg), these birds are quite substantial. Their wingspan can extend up to 50 inches (1.3 meters), and they boast an impressive lifespan of 60 to 80 years. The Green-Winged Macaw is recognized for its robust physique, sizable and powerful beaks, and gracefully elongated tails.

In terms of coloration, these macaws exhibit a striking combination. Their plumage features a deep red hue, complemented by a greenish band beneath the shoulders and wings. The transition continues with dark blue on the wings and light blue on the rump and tail coverts. 

The tail feathers are predominantly red, tipped with blue, while their legs and feet take on a deep gray shade. Notably, their upper beak is horn-colored with a contrasting black lower mandible, and their eyes showcase a pale yellow iris.

Distinguishing between juveniles and adults, there are subtle contrasts. Juveniles share a similar color palette but with shorter tails and paler gray areas on their mandibles where adults have black. Furthermore, the iris of juveniles is brown, differing from the pale yellow iris seen in adults. As they mature, the beak and eye coloration of juveniles gradually transforms to match that of the adult Green-Winged Macaws.

Behavior and Social Structure

Green-winged macaws stand out with notable traits in their social interactions, communication, and mating practices.

In terms of social behavior, these macaws are often spotted in pairs or small family groups, occasionally forming larger flocks, especially during communal activities like feeding or gathering on clay banks. Despite their bright colors, they are adept at concealing themselves, showcasing a shy yet affectionate, inquisitive, and intelligent nature.

Communication for green-winged macaws involves both visual and auditory cues. They express emotions through various actions such as vocalizing, eye flashing, feather fluffing, bowing, tail feather shaking, head bobbing, and wing raising. Loud vocalizations, known as flock calls, serve as a means of long-distance communication within their habitat, aiding in coordinating with their flock and alerting them to potential dangers. Some individuals may even learn to imitate human speech.

In terms of mating habits, green-winged macaws are monogamous, forming lifelong bonds with one mate. Breeding occurs between November and March, varying with the birds’ latitude. Females undertake the incubation of 2-3 eggs for approximately 28 days, with males providing regurgitated food during this period. 

Chicks fledge after 90-100 days but remain dependent for 2-3 years. Reproductive maturity is attained between 3 to 4 years, and breeding is not an annual event, with only a limited number of young born each year to a group of 100 breeding pairs. In captivity, adapting to breeding may take years, usually happening in the spring or early summer, with a clutch size ranging from 2-4 eggs and an average incubation period of 25.5 days (23-27 days).

Interaction with Humans

Green-winged macaws, celebrated for their friendly and affectionate demeanor, have the remarkable ability to form deep connections with their human caregivers. These intelligent birds thrive on interaction and mental stimulation when living in a human environment. Owners should be ready to offer plenty of opportunities for socialization, as Green-winged macaws may face overbonding issues if not exposed to various people.

Forming bonds with their owners, these macaws exhibit a friendly and gentle nature, actively seeking attention and affection. Their intelligence allows them to learn up to 15 words and perform tricks, enhancing the bonding experience. However, owing to their penchant for chewing, it’s crucial to provide a variety of chew toys to keep them engaged and prevent destructive behavior.

Training Green-winged macaws requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Due to their shorter attention spans, short training sessions focusing on simple behaviors, gradually advancing to more complex ones, are recommended. Establishing trust is paramount, and using treats, praise, and attention as rewards can effectively encourage desired behaviors.

While these macaws can be affectionate pets, prospective owners need to consider their large size, requiring a spacious cage or aviary, and their powerful beak, which can pose risks if not handled correctly. The birds are also known for their loud vocalizations, making them potentially unsuitable for apartment living. Prospective owners should be aware of the substantial long-term commitment, as Green-winged macaws boast a lifespan of 60 to 80 years and necessitate a balanced diet and regular veterinary care to prevent common health issues.

Diet and Nutrition

In their natural habitat, Green-Winged Macaws follow a herbivorous diet, consuming an array of seeds, fruits, nuts, and green plants. Their menu includes both granivorous and frugivorous elements, and they’re also known to ingest clay and tree bark, which is believed to aid in neutralizing toxins present in some of their food sources. When kept in captivity, a well-rounded diet for these macaws involves high-quality commercial pellet food supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables, ensuring a diverse nutrient intake.

Maintaining a balanced diet is vital for the overall health and longevity of Green-Winged Macaws. These birds require a proper mix of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. To prevent issues like obesity and other health problems, it’s crucial to manage the intake of high-fat seeds and nuts, offering them as treats rather than the main dietary component. Approximately 20-30% of the macaw’s diet should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Beyond their dietary needs, Green-Winged Macaws play a crucial role in their ecosystems as seed dispersers. By consuming a variety of tree fruits, they actively contribute to the dispersal of seeds, supporting the regeneration and maintenance of numerous tree species. This ecological service is integral to sustaining forest structure and biodiversity, crucial for the health of tropical ecosystems. Their significance in seed dispersal becomes even more crucial considering that many large-seeded plants in Neotropical forests were historically dispersed by now-extinct megafauna.

Care and Husbandry

Creating a suitable living environment for captive Green-Winged Macaws requires careful attention to their size, activity level, and mental needs. A recommended minimum cage size of 2.5×3 feet is suggested, with larger spaces always preferable to allow for ample movement and wing spreading. 

Equipping the cage with sturdy perches and chewable fruit tree branches, regularly replaced for safety and stimulation, is essential. To prevent muscle atrophy and promote overall well-being, it’s crucial to allow the macaw to roam freely outside the cage for at least 2-3 hours daily.

Ensuring mental stimulation is vital, given the macaw’s intellectual capacity, akin to a 3-5 year old child. Interactive play, including singing and dancing, along with a variety of toys, puzzles, and foraging opportunities, provides enrichment and fosters a strong bond between the macaw and its owner.

In terms of health, Green-Winged Macaws may be prone to issues like proventricular dilation disease, psittacine beak-and-feather disease, and respiratory problems like psittacosis. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for early detection and prevention. 

A balanced diet, proper housing, and mental stimulation contribute to preventing common health problems. Owners should stay vigilant for signs of illness, ensuring a warm, draft-free environment if the bird becomes sick. Regular grooming tasks, such as nail or wing trims, may be necessary and are best performed by a veterinarian or an experienced bird handler.

Conservation Status

The Green-Winged Macaw confronts multiple threats, contributing to a decline in its population. Foremost among these is habitat loss caused by deforestation, a significant peril as it deprives the species of vital natural habitats. Direct threats include hunting for food and feathers, as well as the capturing of chicks for the pet trade. 

The illegal pet trade poses a particularly severe challenge, diminishing wild populations while often involving inhumane practices. Climate change further compounds the decline by impacting their habitat.

Conservation initiatives for the Green-Winged Macaw encompass habitat protection, legal regulations on trade, and reintroduction programs. Some regions of their range benefit from protection measures, with successful reintroductions observed, such as in the Ibera Natural Reserve in Argentina after a 200-year absence. 

International agreements like CITES regulate macaw trade, aiming to prevent exploitation. Organizations like the World Parrot Trust and the Macaw Recovery Network contribute to conservation through captive breeding, rescue, release, and reforestation projects.

Despite the pet trade being a significant contributor to the species’ decline, it has the potential to play a role in conservation. Regulating the pet trade to ensure sustainability and legality is crucial. The ESA in the United States provides protections for certain macaw species, aiding in controlling trade and possession. 

Awareness campaigns and education about the negative impacts of the illegal pet trade can reduce demand and promote conservation. Although the Green-Winged Macaw is not currently listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, local populations may still be at risk, emphasizing the need for ongoing conservation efforts to safeguard both their populations and habitats.

Green Winged Macaw for Sale and Price

The cost of a Green-Winged Macaw in the United States varies significantly based on factors like age, health, and the seller. Prices range widely, starting from $800 and reaching as high as $8,500. For example, Macaw Parrots Shop sells Green-Winged Macaws aged 6 to 13 months for $1,900 to $3,000. The Golden Cockatoo lists a price of $7,499.99. Worldwide Exotic Parrots Farm offers baby Green-Winged Macaws for $800 and older ones for $1,500. Terry’s Parrot Farm sells them for $900.

It’s crucial to note that these prices are subject to change and may not encompass additional expenses such as shipping, cages, toys, food, and medical care. Prospective buyers should also consider the bird’s lifespan, which can extend to 60-80 years, and the long-term commitment required for their care. Understanding the comprehensive costs and responsibilities involved is essential for those considering the adoption of a Green-Winged Macaw.


A Green-Winged Macaw is not just a dazzling spectacle of red, green, and blue plumage; it plays a vital role in northern and central South America ecosystems. Thriving in forests and woodlands, these macaws are pivotal in seed dispersal, contributing significantly to tree regeneration. Beyond their ecological significance, their social behavior, intelligence, and ability to form strong bonds with humans make them cherished pets. However, this companionship comes with significant responsibilities and ethical considerations.

Responsible ownership is crucial, as Green-Winged Macaws demand extensive care, including appropriate housing, a balanced diet, and mental stimulation to flourish in captivity. Their impressive lifespan, reaching up to 80 years, requires substantial, long-term commitment from their caretakers.

Conservation efforts are imperative for Green-Winged Macaw survival, as they confront threats from habitat loss, hunting, and the illegal pet trade. Establishing protected areas, enforcing trade regulations, and implementing conservation programs are essential to maintaining stable populations in the wild. The role of the pet trade in conservation is intricate, with both negative impacts and potential benefits arising from regulated, sustainable practices. Balancing the appeal of these captivating birds as pets with their crucial ecological role requires careful consideration and concerted conservation actions.


  • Dr. Sajjad Ali

    Dr. Sajjad is an Avian expert and loves to treat and help parrots. He has two years of clinical experience in treating and helping parrots as a vet.

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