10 Macaw Facts for Kids
1. The Macaw is a long tailed parrot. It is considered a New World parrot. Of the “true parrots” six are Macaws. They live in the Amazon jungle, Central America, Mexico and some parts of the Caribbean. They are colorful birds with large beaks. They can be found in a host of colors typically with blue, yellow and green feathers. The Blue and Yellow feathered Macaws are the most prolific in captivity.
2. The size range of this species goes from about the size of a standard parakeet to a bird with a wing span of about 4 feet.
3. They are zyodactal which means that they have their first and fourth toes pointing backward. This adaptation allows them to use their claws to perch securely and use their claws as hands and hold their food while they eat it.
4. A Macaws feather pattern on their face is as unique as a humans finger print. No two Macaws have the same pattern.
5. A Macaw’s wild food diet consists of seeds, nuts, fruits and even some vegetation that is considered poisonous. Macaw’s in the west Amazon region are known to eat clay. They will swoop down to a dry river bed and eat the clay. They do this every day.
6. It is thought that the clay somehow neutralizes the toxins in some of the toxic plants that they are known to favor. Some scientists believe that the carbon exchange occurs from consuming the clay. Some scientists dispute this belief and instead believe that the clay “licks” as they are called are used for their sodium content.
7. Other scientists believe that the birds eat the clay for the vitamin B that is located in the clay. This behavior is exclusive to the Macaws that live in the western area of the Amazon.
8. Most of the species is on the endangered list and sadly a few have already made it to the extinct list. The rapid decline of these birds is due to deforestation of their homes and illegal trapping for the bird trade. All Macaws are protected but unfortunately that does not keep poachers out of the forest.
9. They are often trapped and used for breeding and hybridization. They are cross bred with other parrots for their feather color.
10. Deforestation has negatively affected their habitat. Conservation efforts include education, laws banning the sale and export of these birds and stricter guidelines for deforestation of their habitat.