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Buffon's macaw, great green macaw
Psittacidae (true parrots)
The Buffon's macaw is a large parrot with a mostly yellowish-green body, scarlet forehead and deep blue shoulders. The top of the tail is red tipped with blue. Like other macaws, this bird also has a strongly hooked beak and zygodactylous feet (2 toes that point forward and 2 toes that point backward).
65-85 cm (26-34 in.); wingspan 110-125 cm (44-50 in.)
1200-1600 g (2.7-3.5 lb.)
Includes seeds, fruits, nuts, and berries
Approximately 29 days
Approximately 4 months; chicks then remain with parents for up to 1 year
Approximately 2-4 years
80 years or more
Sporadic distribution throughout eastern Honduras to western Colombia
Inhabits deep canyons, dry plateaus, nest mainly on cliffs, ledges, and rock faces
Macaws are often monogamous, remaining bonded for life.
In the wild, macaws often flock to mountains of clay known as 'macaw licks'.
When disturbed, these bright birds screech loudly and circle overhead with their long tails streaming.
Macaws are playful and inquisitive and are able to mimic human vocalizations very well.
Macaws are extremely messy eaters - their incredibly strong beaks are perfectly adapted for eating all sorts of nuts and seeds, as seen in their ability to crack open incredibly hard-shelled nuts with ease.
Macaws are able to reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
In the course of daily feeding, macaws allow plenty of seeds (while eating, as well as in their droppings) to fall to the forest floor, thus generating much of the forest growth.
Buffon's are endangered primarily because of illegal pet trade and habitat loss. Bird collectors pay thousands of dollars per bird. Smugglers take the eggs or young birds and sell them to exotic pet stores in the United States.
The main threat is habitat loss. These birds nest in the cavities of almendro trees and feed almost exclusively on this tree's fruit. Unfortunately, this tree is becoming increasingly popular in the logging industry. It is estimated that only 30 breeding pairs remain in the wild in Costa Rica.
In 1990, Defenders of Wildlife began a campaign in which more than 100 commercial airlines agreed to stop carrying birds. This stopped the delivery of new birds to dealers and forced some of them to breed the captive species they already had. In 1995 the Wild Bird Conservation Act was enacted and it halted the import of endangered birds. The U.S. Wild Bird Act forbids the commercial import of any bird listed by CITES which includes most parrots - endangered or threatened.
Parrots of the World
. New Jersey. T.F.H. Publications Inc. 1978.
Marrison, C. and A. Greensmith.
Birds of the World
. New York: Dorling Kindersley, Inc. 1993.