The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is a large, colorful Macaw native to humid evergreen forests in the American tropics. Macaws originated in the humid lowland subtropical rain forests, open woodlands, river edges, and savannas of Central and South America.
Their plumage is mostly scarlet, but the rump and tail-covert feathers are light blue; the greater upper wing coverts are yellow, while the upper sides of the flight feathers of the wings are dark blue as are the ends of the tail feathers, and the undersides of the wing. The tail flight feathers are dark red with metallic gold iridescence. Some birds may have hints of green in their wings.
There is bare white skin around the eye and to the bill. Sexes are alike; the only difference between ages is that young birds have dark eyes, and adults have light yellow eyes.
Scarlet Macaws are about 81 to 96 cm (32 to 36 inches) long, of which more than half is the pointed, graduated tail typical of all macaws. The average weight is about a kilogram (2 to 2.5 pounds).
Scarlet Macaws make loud, low-pitched, throaty squawks, squeaks and screams designed to carry many miles to call for their groups. A typical sighting is of a single bird or a pair flying above the forest canopy, though in some areas flocks can be seen. These birds are known to have partners for a lifetime, therefore are often seen in pairs.
They can live up to 75 years, although, a more typical lifespan is 30 to 50 years and eat mostly fruits and seeds, like apples, nuts, bananas, and other tropical fruits. They also feed on nectar and buds.
Before the Scarlet Macaw's decline in population, its distribution included much of Costa Rica. However, by the 1960s Scarlet Macaws had been decreasing in numbers due to a combination of factors, particularly hunting, poaching, and the destruction of habitat through deforestation. They have also been widely exacerbated by habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade.
Further, the spraying of pesticides by companies cultivating and selling bananas for export played a significant role in decreasing the Scarlet Macaw populations.