Red-bellied macaw

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Red-bellied macaw
Orthopsittaca manilata -Brazil-6.jpg
In Goiânia, Brazil
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Genus: Orthopsittaca
Ridgway, 1912
O. manilatus
Binomial name
Orthopsittaca manilatus
(Boddaert, 1783)

Orthopsittaca manilata

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 was described by the French polymath Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon in 1780 in his Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux from a specimen collected in Cayenne, French Guiana.[2] The bird was also illustrated in a hand-coloured plate engraved by François-Nicolas Martinet in the Planches Enluminées D'Histoire Naturelle which was produced under the supervision of Edme-Louis Daubenton to accompany Buffon's text.[3] Neither the plate caption nor Buffon's description included a scientific name but in 1783 the Dutch naturalist Pieter Boddaert coined the binomial name Psittacus manilatus in his catalogue of the Planches Enluminées.[4] The red-bellied macaw is now the only species placed in the genus Orthopsittaca that was introduced by the American ornithologist Robert Ridgway in 1912.[5][6] The species is monotypic.[6] The generic name combines the Ancient Greek orthos meaning "straight" and psittakē meaning "parrot". The specific epithet combines the Latin manus meaning "hand" and latus meaning "broad" or "wide".[7]

A pet juvenile in Peru


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).[8] The Spix's macaw is the only other macaw in which juveniles have a similar white culmen.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Two flying in Guyana

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.

Its southern limit in Brazil is the south-central and northwestern cerrado bordering the Amazon Basin.


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.


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.[9] Juveniles reach sexual maturity in 2–3 years.

Food and feeding[edit]

Their diet consists almost exclusively of the fruit and seeds of moriche palm, which are 100% carbohydrate, 0% fat[citation needed] and very high in Beta-carotene.

Conservation status[edit]

Red-bellied macaws are listed as "least concern" by the IUCN. Population numbers have not been estimated, but wild populations seem to be declining.[1]


It is extremely difficult 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Orthopsittaca manilatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Buffon, Georges-Louis Leclerc de (1780). "La perriche-ara". Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux (in French). Volume 11. Paris: De L'Imprimerie Royale. pp. 387–388. |volume= has extra text (help)
  3. ^ Buffon, Georges-Louis Leclerc de; Martinet, François-Nicolas; Daubenton, Edme-Louis; Daubenton, Louis-Jean-Marie (1765–1783). "La perruche-ara, de Cayenne". Planches Enluminées D'Histoire Naturelle. Volume 9. Paris: De L'Imprimerie Royale. Plate 864. |volume= has extra text (help)
  4. ^ Boddaert, Pieter (1783). Table des planches enluminéez d'histoire naturelle de M. D'Aubenton : avec les denominations de M.M. de Buffon, Brisson, Edwards, Linnaeus et Latham, precedé d'une notice des principaux ouvrages zoologiques enluminés (in French). Utrecht. p. 52, Number 864.
  5. ^ Ridgway, Robert (1912). "Diagnoses of some new genera of American birds". Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 25: 97–102 [99].
  6. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Parrots, cockatoos". World Bird List Version 9.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  7. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 240, 285. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  8. ^ Forshaw (2006). plate 73.
  9. ^ 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.

Cited texts[edit]

External links[edit]