Illiger's macaw Illiger's macaw
Illiger's Macaw

Scientific Classification

Common Name
Illiger's macaw, blue-winged macaw
Psittacidae (true parrots)
Genus Species
Ara (macaw) maracana (small macaw)

Fast Facts

The Illiger's macaw is a small macaw with a black bill and bare cheek regions. In general the plumage is green. The forehead and sides of abdomen and lower back orange-red to red; the crown is blue; the head, nape, and cheeks greenish-blue; the wings blue with blue primary-coverts and bluish-green edges; the under wing-coverts olive-green. The tail feathers are blue with reddish-brown tips and olive-yellow underside.
Approximately 40 cm (15.7 in.)
Approximately 300 g (10.6 oz)
Includes seeds, fruits, nuts, and berries
Approximately 29 days
Clutch Size
Usually 2 eggs
Fledging Duration
11 weeks; then remain with parents for up to a year
Sexual Maturity
2 to 4 years
Life Span
50 to 60 years
Eastern Brazil, Paraguay, and northeast Argentina
Inhabit forests (especially palm groves)
Global: 2,500 to 9,000
IUCN: Near Threatened
CITES: Appendix I
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

These birds enjoy palm groves, feeding almost exclusively on the palm nuts and nesting in holes in the palms. The palms normally grow in water, lending the macaws additional protection against predators.

Macaws are monogamous, remaining bonded for life. They are often seen flying in large flocks and the bonded pairs fly close together, their wings nearly touching.

In the wild, macaws often flock to mountains of clay known as "macaw licks."

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 56 kph (35 mph).

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.

Some research suggests that, in the wild, Illiger's sometimes do not live over 40 years of age because of diseases, predators, stress, and bad eyesight! After the breeding period, their life span rapidly declines due to cataracts, making it difficult to recognise danger or to find food.

Illiger's macaws are seriously endangered in Paraguay because of deforestation due to an ever-increasing demand for tropical wood to supply the European and American markets and a growing human population as the primary causes of deforestation.

This species is targeted for pet trade as well. Bird collectors pay thousands of dollars per bird. Smugglers take the eggs or young birds and sell them to exotic pet stores. Recent observation has led some scientists to believe that Illiger's macaws may already be extinct in Bolivia.

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.


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.

Low, R. Macaws, A Complete Guide. London. Merehurst.

Perrins, C. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Facts on File Publications. 1985.

BirdLife International (2008) Species factsheet: Primolius maracana. Downloaded from on 26/8/2008.