Parrots, also known as psittacines, is a group of birds belonging to the order psittaciformes. The order consists of more than 370 species of birds distributed over 80 genera. One of the species belonging to this huge collection is Ara militaris, or the Military Macaw. Out of around 19 species of macaws 10 species belong to the genus Ara.
The Military Macaw species is itself divided into three subspecies, viz. A. m. militaris, A. m. boliviana and A. m. mexicana. There are very minor differences in the three subspecies, one of them being size. A. m. militaris is the smallest of the three subspecies, while A. m. mexicana is the largest.
Description: The overall body of the macaw is green in color. The head is a slightly paler shade of green. There is a bright red patch above the beak, between the eyes. The eyes are surrounded by a light red or pink-colored patch. The beak is black to gray in color. The tips of the wing are blue. In general, the wings have a blue hue. The tail feathers, on the other hand, are blue in color, with yellowish-green tips. The red tail feathers are visible only during flight. The under-wings are pale hay in color. The bird looks spectacular especially during flight, the colors looking vibrant and full of life. Military Macaws flock together in the wild, often flying with their mates.
In the wild, they usually reside on tree-tops. They can be found at around 600 m from ground level. Some Military Macaws even reside on tree-tops as high as 2500 m and more. The usually prefer to live in subtropical or dry, arid forests. However, they often fly seasonally to lower altitudes with humid climates.
One peculiar feature of Military Macaw feeding habits is their liking for clay deposits usually found on riverbanks. These clay deposits are called 'macaw licks'. Macaws often flock to nearby clay deposits after a feed. The macaw licks are said to provide the macaws with essential mineral salts that are otherwise absent in their diet. It is also hypothesized that the clay licks serve to detoxify their bodies.
Military Macaws (and many other macaw species) are in general rather noisy birds! They make a lot of different sounds; sometimes shrieking, sometimes chirping, and sometimes making the signature 'kraa-aak!' sound. This feature of the bird makes it an exceptionally delightful pet, as the bird tries to imitate the sounds it hears. Some macaws can even be trained to talk! Macaws are quite playful and inquisitive. They love to interact with humans. However, once in a while they can get a little cranky. (Don't put your hand through the cage at such times!)
Military Macaws even flock in pairs. A pair can even be seen looking for food together to feed their young ones. They may even take turns to stay back with the little fledglings while the other goes looking for food. The female usually lays one or two eggs. The young ones hatch after 25 to 30 days.
Many people love to keep Military Macaws as pets. It is a rather large bird, unlike other small species of parrots. Hence Military Macaw needs more attention and care. If you are planning to keep one as a pet, I suggest you visit the PETCO website. It will give you a comprehensive idea about the care the bird needs. PETCO also sells all kinds of pet supplies, like cages, feed, toys. They have a 'care-sheet' that helps you assess if you can give your macaw enough time to be a healthy and playful pet. It will indeed be a good idea to take a tour of the website before you buy your pet Military Macaw.
The thrill of walking down the streets with a macaw perched on your shoulder, talking to people who pass you by is indeed very tempting! Along with the pride comes a lot of responsibility as well. Macaws can be pets for life, living to be almost as old as human beings. They, however, make wonderful companions. Be sure you are well-informed before you pick a macaw as a pet, for they truly can turn out to be 'friends for life'.