The Red and Green Macaw (Ara chloropterus) is also known as the Green-winged Macaw and is a large bird that is the largest member of the Ara family of Macaws and found across South America.
The Red and Green can be differentiated from the Scarlet Macaw quite easily just by sight. While both birds have a red breast, this bird has green upper wing coverts and some yellow feathers above this. There are red lines around the eyes made by tiny feathers on otherwise white skin and there are iridescent teal feathers on the tail. When seen together, the Red and Green are clearly somewhat bigger than its Scarlet cousin is.
It usually has a wingspan up to 49 inches (125cm) in length, making it second only to the Hyacinth Macaw in the whole parrot family. Its body length is around 35-37 inches (90-95cm) and an adult bird will weigh around 1250-1700 grams (2.7-3.7lbs). Their lifespan in captivity can be anywhere up to 80 years old.
The birds cannot reliably be sexed visually, though experienced breeders say that males’ beaks are slightly longer and narrower than those of a female and the males can be larger. But this is not a guarantee so DNA sexing is the best definitive method.
If you are purchasing one of these birds to be a pet, it is advisable to get one that has been partly hand reared. This is because these birds become very attached to the people around them and see themselves as part of the family. But to achieve this, they need to be in the house and around people from a young age. They are very affectionate birds when raised correctly and high responsive to training with time and patience.
If you are looking to breed the birds, it is better to either opt for an established pair or a small group of younger birds who can then choose their own mates. In the wild, they will typically live in groups of 6-8 birds. If you are aviary breeding them, avoid keeping them with smaller birds than other macaws as they can hurt or kill them simply because of the size difference.
Macaws are excellent fliers but prefer to climb, like many of the parrot family. They do shriek, which can be a big noise so this is a consideration if you live in a built up area. Singular birds can learn to mimic human speech to a degree. They also love a bath and on a hot day, will appreciate being sprayed with an ultra-fine mist in addition.
These are very large birds, so they need a great deal of room otherwise their wings and tail will be damaged. If they live in a cage, it needs to be big enough for them to stretch their wings and high enough that their tail doesn’t touch the floor. Often people learn the bird to simply live in the room rather than a cage as it is so difficult to find one big enough to accommodate them.
If they live in an aviary, make sure they cannot get access to wood framework as with the strength of their beak, they can shred almost anything. They do enjoy climbing so very strong mesh should be used to make the aviary and they will appreciate tree stumps and thick branches to play with. You can add plants to their aviary but they need to be ones that are safe for the birds to consume, as that is exactly what they will do with them.
They are relatively hardy birds but if living outside, a night house sheltered from frost is always advisable.
There are specialist brands of food available for macaws, which incorporate a large amount of their feeding needs. It is also crucial that they get plenty of greens and fruit to supplement this, usually to a ratio of 30% fresh food to 70% seed and pellets.
Fruit that may be enjoyed by these birds includes grapes, oranges, melons, bananas, nearly any fruit as long as the seeds or pits have been removed, in the case of apples and plums for example. Vegetables too will be almost universally accepted including broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, peas and sweetcorn. The main thing to avoid is avocado, as this is poisonous to any bird.
Human foods such as pasta when cooked and whole grain bread will be enjoyed though wait until the pasta is cooled before offering it. Cereals and grains are also nutritious and healthy for them as well as being a good source of protein and carbohydrates.
Grit and minerals are also important for the birds, both for digestion and general health. Typically, this is a mixture of grit, cuttlebone and charcoal but special mineral blocks for macaws are also available which mimic the mineral deposits they favour in the wild.
Fresh twigs from trees such as willow will also be appreciated to gnaw on and this is important for beak and claw maintenance.
Experts confirm these are not easy birds to breed. A pair of birds needs to get on well before they will even consider breeding so, as mentioned before, an established pair is the safest bet. Young birds are aged at least four before they are sexually mature.
The ideal breeding conditions for these macaws is an outdoor aviary with a lot of room. In the wild they nest in tree hollows but will use nest boxes in captivity, as long as they are large enough. The female lays 2-4 eggs that are incubated for 24-28 days. The young fledge at around 3-4 months but are fed by their parents for some time after this.
The adoption or purchase of this type of bird is not something that should be undertaken lightly but if you can offer the time and correct conditions, these birds are fantastic members of the family. They are gently giants, affectionate and very intelligent and will be with you for a lifetime.