|In Goiânia, Brazil|
|Distribution across South America|
The red-bellied macaw (Orthopsittaca manilatus), also known as Guacamaya Manilata, is a medium-sized, mostly green South American parrot, a member of a group of large Neotropical parrots known as macaws. It is the largest of what are commonly called "mini-macaws". The belly has a large maroon patch which gives the species its name.
It is endemic to tropical Amazonian South America, from Colombia and Trinidad south to Amazonian Peru and Bolivia, and central Brazil as far as the northwestern cerrado. Its habitat is moriche (or buriti) palm (Mauritia flexuosa) swamp forests and sandy savannahs with palm groves. They are critically dependent on the Moriche palm for roosting, feeding and nesting. Although the bird is locally common, in places it has been adversely affected by clearing of the palms for use as posts, or to allow cattle ranching; also by capture for the pet trade.
Not to be confused with the African red-bellied parrot (Poicephalus rufiventris), a similarly named smaller parrot.
The red-bellied macaw (Orthopsittaca manilata, Boddaert 1783) is a species of the monotypic genus Orthopsittaca (Ridgway 1912), one of six genera of Central and South American macaws. Gender agreement of species name follows David and Gosselin (2002b). It was formerly classified as Ara manilata (BirdLife International 2004, Sibley and Monroe 1990 & 1993, Stotz et al. 1996). The protonym was Psittacus manilatus. The genus name Orthopsittaca is from Gr. orthos straight; psittake parrot; [“anterior lateral outline of cere straight or very faintly concave, without convexity in front of nostril” (Ridgway 1912)]; species name manilata / manilatus is from L. manus hand; latus broad, wide. Hence, "a parrot with wide hands [feet] and straight nose [cere]".
The red-bellied macaw is medium-sized, about 300 g (11 oz) in weight and about 46 cm (18 in) in length including its long pointed tail. The plumage is mostly green; the cere and much of the face are covered with bare mustard-yellow skin, and the irises are dark brown. The forehead is bluish. The chin, throat and upper chest are greyish with some green scalloping, and the lower abdomen ("belly") has a large maroon patch. The tail is long and tapered. The underwings and undertail are dull olive yellow. Adults have dark-grey beaks. The legs and feet are dark grey. In common with other parrots, they have zygodactyl feet, two toes pointing forward and two backward. Males and females have identical plumage, but males are usually larger and have larger heads. Juveniles are duller in colour than adults and have a grey beak with a conspicuous white mid-line stripe running along the length of the culmen (top of the upper beak). The Spix's macaw is the only other macaw in which juveniles have a similar white culmen.
Red-bellied macaws make reedy, high-pitched screams. They roost communally in the moriche palms, and large numbers can be seen at the roost sites at dawn and dusk; (see crepuscular). They choose large stands of these palms that have an overabundance of woodpecker holes as roosting sites. They sleep communally in these groups of hollows. Depending on the size of the hollow, between five and 10 birds sleep together. As dusk approaches, they all pile into these dormitories and sleep shoulder to shoulder.
Their diet consists almost exclusively of the fruit and seeds of moriche palm, which are 100% carbohydrate, 0% fat and very high in Beta-carotene.
Red-bellied macaws nest in cavities of dead moriche palm trees. There are usually two to four white eggs in a clutch. The female incubates the eggs for about 27 days, and the chicks fledge from the nest about 77 days after hatching. Juveniles reach sexual maturity in 2–3 years.
Distribution and habitat
The red-bellied macaw has an extremely large range throughout the Amazon Basin of the North Region, Brazil, except in the northwest quadrant centered on a large region of the Rio Negro flowing from Colombia-Venezuela. It ranges through the Guianas including the Guiana Highlands into eastern Venezuela, the lower Orinoco River Basin and across to the island of Trinidad.
It is extremely difficult to keep these birds alive in captivity, because of their high strung personality, and low fat and high carbohydrate diet. Export/Import for the pet trade often results in 100% mortality. Captive-bred chicks have a low survival rate.
The only country to export these birds in recent years is Guyana.
Because of lack of commercial availability of moriche palm nuts, shelled unsalted peanuts have been used as a staple in the diet of captive birds. They must not be fed commercial bird seed, especially fatty seed like Sunflower.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Orthopsittaca manilata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Jobling, James (2009). Helm Dictionary of Scientific Names. Christopher Helm. ISBN 1-4081-2501-3.
- Forshaw (2006). plate 73.
- Alderton, David (2003). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Caged and Aviary Birds. London, England: Hermes House. p. 237. ISBN 1-84309-164-X.
- ffrench, Richard (1991). A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd ed.). Comstock Publishing. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2.
- Hilty, Steven L (2003). Birds of Venezuela. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-6418-5.
- Forshaw, Joseph M. (2006). Parrots of the World; an Identification Guide. Illustrated by Frank Knight. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09251-6.
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