The Military Macaws (Ara militaris) received their name when
they were first imported into Europe by military personnel; also
some suggest that this species was named for the overall "army
or olive green" color of its plumage.
At first glance, these parrots may not be as striking as some
of their cousins, but these parrots are beautiful nonetheless. They
are fun-loving and sociable, and many of those kept as pets have
distinguished themselves as excellent talkers.
Distribution, Status, Life in the Wild:
They occupy a massive but fragmented range from Mexico down to Argentina
in South America.
They live in pairs, in families, or in large flocks, usually
roosting in the highest outer branches of trees or foraging for
fruits and nuts. They are usually easily identified even out of
sight by their loud screeching and croaking.
Macaw (beak detail)
They were once very common in Mexico, but are now listed as
an endangered species due to the clearing of their habitat for agriculture
and capture for pets. While the remaining two populations are not
endangered, the entire species has been listed on Appendix I of
CITES to assure protection of the northernmost race.
BirdLife International classifies this species as "Vulnerable".
The main threats are habitat loss and domestic trade. The current
population is estimated at 10,000 to 20,000, and is decreasing.
In the wild, their breeding season stretches from about January
to March. The female can lay as many as four eggs which are incubated
for about a month, 28 days before they hatch. The female is the
only one who tends the eggs and the young. Captive birds readily
hybridize with related species
Macaw in flight
Subspecies and Ranges:
Each subspecies represents a different and distinct
population and they are are separated by thousands of miles of terrain.
- Military Macaw, A.m. militaris - The nominate form occurs
in the eastern tropics of Colombia to western Venezuela and south
into eastern Ecuador and northeastern Peru.
- Bolivian Green Macaws, A. m. boliviana - this subspecies
is found in the tropical portions of Bolivia and ranges to extreme
- Mexican Green Military Macaws , A. m. mexicana population
- the northernmost subspecies is located in Mexico from southeastern
Sonora and Sinaloa south to the Yucatan and perhaps into western
They are probably the smallest of the large macaws
at a length of 27 - 33 inches (70 - 84 cm) from beak to tail. Their
wing length: 14 inches; wingspan: 39 - 43 inches; and weight: 862
The plumage is mostly green, except for the red tuft of feathers
on the forehead (behind the cere of the beak) , white cheek patches
with tiny black feathers, bluish-red primary wing feathers, and
tail feathers that are brown red above and yellow underneath.
The plumage of young birds is duller compared to the adults'.
Macaws in flight
Similar Species: Similar to Great Green or Buffon's Macaw (A.
ambigua) - except for being smaller.
Military Macaws as Pets:
This parrots readily breeds and is therefore easily available in
the pet trade. The military macaw is the quietest and least expensive
of the large macaws to acquire.
It can get nippy and thus requires more attention and training
to maintain a pleasant nature.
Militaries do well in a large macaw cage as an indoor pet. They
enjoy toys, especially wood items that they can chew. They are quite
capable talkers and can be easily trained, including being potty
trained to the cage.