Scarlet Macaw (Personality, Diet, Caring, Breeding, and Health)

Last Updated on January 10, 2024 by Ali Shahid

Scarlet macaws (Ara Macao) are considered to be the most beautiful parrot in the world because of their brilliant red, yellow, and blue plumage and white cheeks. They can reach a length of 32 inches ( Due to its hooked and powerful beak, this bird is capable of breaking open hard-shelled seeds, excavating in clay, and defending itself against predators.

Their range extends from southern Mexico to Peru, as well as Bolivia, eastern Brazil, and Trinidad in Central and South America. Flashy, gutsy, and full of life, this bird has a great deal of energy. Scarletts make great pets because they’re intelligent, friendly, confident, and gorgeous. There is no difficulty in teaching them simple tricks and mimicking sounds, and they can develop a vocabulary of approximately ten words over time.

However, they are not the best talker. Most people start with scarlets as their first pet bird, but they are not the best choice for novice bird owners. It is hard to resist the stunning color and personality of the Scarlet Macaw, however, experts advise novice bird owners not to purchase one. Around every one to two years, they breed in captivity with a clutch size of 2 to 4 white and rounded eggs, incubated for 24 to 25 days.

According to research, scarlet macaws eat a variety of nuts, leaves, berries, seeds, and other fruits in the rainforest. Research shows that Scarlet Macaws typically live between 40 and 50 years in the wild, but in captivity, they can live up to 75 years, so they are long-term investments. If you are interested in getting a Scarlet Macaw you can get one from Terryparrotfarm, ExoticBirdsforSale, Omarsexoticbirds, Stevenparrots, and BirdsNow for $2000-$3000.

Currently, they are classified as the least concern species, but as their numbers continue to decline, they may soon be classified as endangered species.

Habitat of Scarlet Macaw

Studies have shown that the Scarlet Macaw (Ara Macao) inhabits a large area in Central and South America, and there are two subspecies: 

  • Ara Macao cyanoptera, native to Central America, especially Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Mexico, and Nicaragua  
  • Ara Macao Macao, is indigenous to South America, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Scarlet macaws from Central America typically have larger wings and more blue than those from South America. They thrive in humid evergreen forests at elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 feet. Their striking beauty has led to population declines in the wild, but conservation efforts, especially in Costa Rica, aim to protect them. 

These social birds form strong, lifelong bonds with their mates and often gather in large, noisy groups. Their diet consists mainly of nuts, leaves, berries, and seeds, and their powerful beaks are adept at cracking hard nuts and seeds. However, they face threats like deforestation, smuggling, and trapping for food and feathers. 

Listed in CITES Appendix I, they cannot be imported as pets into the United States. The IUCN Red List estimates their global population between 20,000 and 50,000, highlighting the urgent need for conservation measures.

Even though many scientists agree that they are distinct species, some believe there is no such thing as a subspecies. Others divide scarlet macaw into three categories based on their size and coloration:

  • Mexican Scarlet
  • Central Scarlet
  • South American Scarlet

Mexican scarlets, in general, are smaller and have less yellow. South Americans are larger and have a little more yellow on their wings. Central American scarlets are visually stunning, with a wide yellow band on their wings.


A scarlet Macaw measures approximately 81 centimeters (32 inches) in length, of which the tail makes up more than half. All macaws indeed possess long tails, but this species has a longer tail than other large macaws. On average, they weigh 1 kilogram (2 lbs 3 oz). This bird has mostly scarlet plumage, but

  • Light blue rump and tail covert feathers
  • Yellow upper wing coverts
  • Dark blue upper flight feathers
  • Metallic gold undersides of wing and tail flight feathers
  • Dark blue upper sides of the flight feathers

Some parrots may have green under their wings. Around the eye and on the bill, bare white skin can be seen. The face patch contains small white feathers. A pale horn color dominates the upper mandible, and a black color dominates the lower.

Adults have light yellow eyes, while juveniles have dark eyes. Many people confuse this bird with the slightly larger green-winged macaw, which has a more distinct red line on its face as well as no yellow on its wings.

In the wild, Scarlet Macaws use their multitude of coloration as a dispersion tool to confuse predators. It is due to the unique coloration of these birds that predators are not able to focus on one bird when they attack them.

A scarlet macaw makes a very loud and throaty squawk, squeak, and scream that is meant to carry over many kilometers. The scarlet macaw is capable of living up to 75 in captivity, though it is more likely that it will live only 40 to 50 years in the wild.

Scarlet Macaw Behavior

You may initially be drawn to the scarlet’s striking plumage, but its character will hold your attention for a long time. A scarlet macaw is an intelligent bird with character and energy. When hand-reared or hand-trained, scarlet macaws are extremely affectionate.

With a sweet disposition and a great sense of humor, they make great companions. There are small flocks of scarlet macaws in the wild. You can form a strong bond with this bird if you keep it as a lone pet.

Keeping this bird as a tame housemate requires daily interaction and attention. It can become aggressive and destructive if not properly trained and socialized. A scarlet macaw is an idiosyncratic bird that may become obsessed with one person in particular.

As a way to prevent this behavior, teach them to socialize with every member of the family from an early age. This bird has a powerful beak that is impressively large.

It is capable of biting if provoked. A family with young children who are unable to understand bird warning signs or boundaries may not be the best fit for this bird.

Speech & Sound

Scarlet macaws are not the most adept talkers in the macaw family, but with those beautiful looks, they do not need to speak. Though it will scream more than talk, it will learn a few words and phrases.

If you live among sensitive neighbors or have a baby, this is not the bird for you. Birds screeching at such a loud volume will disturb those nearby.


In their natural habitat, scarlet macaws mainly feed on nuts, fruits, and seeds, including tougher varieties. Research indicates they also incorporate flowers, nectar, insects, larvae, clay, and snails into their diet. Their robust beaks are well-equipped to crack open hard nuts and seeds.

Intriguingly, scarlet macaws can consume fruits toxic to other creatures, potentially due to clay consumption, which may neutralize plant toxins. Given that tropical trees don’t fruit annually, scarlet macaws cover extensive distances daily for foraging, playing a crucial role in seed dispersal within tropical forests.

Notably, they assist in dispersing large, hard seeds when consuming Cohune Palm fruits, facilitating their germination and growth. To support the food chain, maintaining a healthy forest is vital. In captivity, a nutritious diet for scarlet macaws includes commercial macaw pellets, whole grains, fresh produce, and occasional nuts as treats.

Caring for Scarlet Macaws

For your bird’s comfort, the temperature in your household should be between 70 and 80°F (21-27°C). Considering the size of these birds, macaw cages must also be large. A minimum cage size for parrots should be 3x3x6 feet, with 1.5-inch spacing between bars.

The stainless steel cage you choose should be large enough to handle hard use by your macaw. Macaws need to chew toys and branches to entertain themselves and exercise their beaks.

The cage should include accessories that encourage activity at various heights to keep your bird happy and healthy. They may need their nails trimmed if they grow too long. The birds love bathing in the tropical rainforest.

Parrots need two to three hours out of their cages every day to maintain their mental and physical health. It can’t tolerate being confined all day long and needs plenty of space. Excessive screeching and feather plucking can result from boredom.

A high-quality pellet can provide essential nutrients for your bird. The scarlet macaw consumes clay as a means of eliminating toxins from its body.

As captive animals do not have access to that luxury, their owners are responsible for providing them with the proper nutrition.  


It is estimated that scarlet macaw breeds approximately every one to two years. There are two to four white, round eggs in each clutch, which are incubated for 24 to 25 days. The females are primarily responsible for incubating the eggs.

The young may remain with their parents for a period of one to two years after hatching. During the early stages of development, the male regurgitates and liquefies food to feed the young.

It is unlikely that the parents will raise another batch of eggs if the previous offspring have not become independent. The scarlet macaw reaches sexual maturity when it is three or four years old.

The female and male scarlet macaws take care of their young. The scarlet macaw is dependent on its parents for a considerable amount of time before becoming sexually mature and independent.

Population number

The IUCN Red List estimates that there are between 20,000 and 50,000 Scarlet macaws in the world. As of today, this species is of Least Concern (LC); however, its numbers are in decline.

Population threats

Habitat loss, hunting for feathers, and pet sales are causing the species to decline. Forest destruction threatens their habitat. The number of nesting places and chicks raised is limited due to the poaching of trees with macaw nests. IUCN’s Red List classifies nine out of sixteen macaw species as LC, i.e., least concern, including scarlet macaws.

Conservation Status

Scarlet macaws live in deep rainforest habitats that are threatened by forest destruction. It is also worth noting that poachers are seeking out the parrots and will even cut down the tree where the nest is to gain access to the young.

In addition, they will shoot the adults to obtain food. This practice may eventually lead to a reduction in the number of young raised by macaws. There have been efforts made to slow the decline of scarlet macaw populations.

Efforts to safeguard the dwindling scarlet macaw population have garnered attention through various dedicated organizations. The inception of the World Parrot Trust in 1989 marked a pivotal step towards preserving parrots within their natural ecosystems.

Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, the Association for Parrot Protection (LAPPA), established in 1995, exemplifies grassroots conservation by actively shielding scarlet macaw nests, deploying artificial nesting solutions, enhancing local habitats, advancing scientific research, and fostering environmental awareness initiatives (Nemeth and Vaughan, 2005).

Parallelly, in Guatemala, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) champions analogous conservation tactics, aiming to avert the potential local demise of scarlet macaws attributable to the pet trade (Gonzalez, 2003).


As large birds, macaws need plenty of room to play and stretch their muscles. By nature, these birds are active. These birds must be able to burn off their energy.

Scarlet macaws should be exposed to the outdoors for at least two hours per day; five hours is ideal. Keep a variety of chew toys on hand to encourage it to exercise its powerful beak and jaws.

Toys that can stand up to punishment help build jaw muscles and satisfy chewing instincts.  Your macaw can meet its exercise needs by playing and climbing on a parrot cargo net or playing gym.

Common Health Problems of Scarlet Macaws

Scarlet macaws may suffer from a variety of health complications, which may be due to both pathological and non-pathological factors. Even though they are susceptible, they can be prevented by taking good care of them and eating the right foods.

Infections such as parrot fever and Psicattine beak and fever disease may occur in them. Macaw Wasting Syndrome affects the digestive and nervous systems.

Furthermore, they are prone to nutritional diseases, which is why it is advisable to provide them with a balanced diet and a clean environment.

Macaws tend to self-mutilate when neglected, stressed, or lacking mental stimulation, so it is essential to provide Scarlet with a loving environment. They will be less likely to develop overgrown beaks if provided with chew toys.  

From Where to Get a Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet macaws cost between $2,000 and $3,000 from reputable breeders and online stores like Terryparrotfarm, ExoticBirdsforSale, Omarsexoticbirds, Stevenparrots, and BirdsNow.

If you are considering purchasing Scarlet, it is wise to conduct a background check on the seller as well as the bird. Breeder credibility, seller history, and the reason for selling the bird are all important questions to ask.

The Scarlet macaw faces many conservation efforts due to illegal poaching and deforestation, so you may adopt one.


With its beauty comes an incredibly charming personality! This bird is considered one of the most beautiful in the world! The Scarlet Macaw has high social and activity demands, so it’s not a good bird for apartment dwellers or people who rarely get home.

You will surely enjoy having a Scarlet Macaw as a pet and ultimately as a companion if you are willing to commit!


  • Ali Shahid

    Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.

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