Mexican Military Macaw

Buffon's Macaw

Scientific Classification

Common Name
Buffon's macaw, great green macaw
Psittacidae (true parrots)
Genus Species
Ara (macaw) ambiguus

Fast Facts

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 has a strongly hooked beak and zygodactyl feet (2 toes that point forward and 2 toes that point backward).
85 - 90 cm (33 to 35 in.); wingspan 110 to 125 cm (44 to 50 in.)
1200 to 1600 g (2.7 to 3.5 lbs.)
Orchids made up 71% of the diet of a pair watched in Ecuador, and their feeding range was estimated at 2,000 ha. Their diet also includes seeds, fruits, nuts, and berries.
Approximately 29 days
Clutch Size
2 to 3 eggs
Fledging Duration
Approximately 4 months; chicks then remain with parents for up to 1 year
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 2 to 4 years
Life Span
80 years or more
These birds can be found in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador.
This macaw inhabits humid and wet lowland, foothills and dry deciduous forest, but occurs in edge habitats and crosses open areas. It is found mainly below 600 m, but occurs to 1,000 m and occasionally up to 1,500 m.
The global population estimate is fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, or fewer than 3,700 individuals in total, when juveniles and immature birds are included. There were estimated to be 1,530 individuals in the southern Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica populations in 2009. The population is decreasing but is not severely fragmented.
IUCN: Endangered
CITES: Appendix I
USFWS: Vulnerable

Fun Facts

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.

These birds produce loud squawks and growls, and a creaking “aaa” call.

Macaws are messy eaters and 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 56 kph (35 mph).

Ecology and Conservation

The Buffon’s Macaw qualifies as Endangered because extensive habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade are suspected to have caused very rapid and continuing population declines. These threats have had such a significant impact that it is very rare in four out of six range states, and the total population is now suspected to be small.

In 1990, Defenders of Wildlife began a campaign in which more than 100 commercial airlines agreed to stop transporting birds. This stopped the delivery of new birds to dealers and forced them to breed the captive species that 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, which are endangered or threatened.

These macaws may help foster new forest growth by dropping seeds in their excrement or while feeding.


Forshaw, J.M. 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.

BirdLife International. 2016. Ara ambiguus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22685553A93079606. Downloaded on 27 February 2019.