Great Green Macaw Fact File

Ara ambiguus

Credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons



(2.8 and 3lbs)





Wild 60 years

Captive 60 years



Fruit, Nuts, Seeds

Conservation Status


Critically Endangered

The great green macaw is among the largest parrots and as their name suggests is covered by green feathers.

Native to the forests of South and Central America they will move around in small flocks seeking out fruits, nuts and seeds. Their strong beak is an adaptation to help break in to these nuts.

Females will form a nest in a tree hollow where she deposits her eggs while she raises them.

They are suffering a significant decline due to habitat loss and capture for the illegal wildlife trade. They are a desirable species within the pet trade and are also collected for their feathers.

Read on to learn more about these brilliant birds.


What does the great green macaw look like?

Great green macaws are as their name suggests one of the largest parrot species. Their body is covered by green feathers with blue feathers on the lower back, rump and upper tail feathers. A patch of red feathers is present at the top of the bill.

On the face is a patch of bare skin with black lines and small red feathers across it.

They are equipped with a large beak which is curved and colored greyish-black. This strong curve is an adaptation which helps them to break through the hard shells of nuts and seeds. The eye is pale yellow and surrounded by a pinkish-white eye ring.

The legs and feet are colored grey. Their feet are zygodactyl meaning that two toes face forwards and two feet face backwards.

These birds measure an average length of 85-90cm (33.5-35in) long with a weight between 1.3 and 1.4kg (2.8 and 3lbs). Their wingspan is between 110 and 125 cm (44 to 50 in) across.

This species is similar in appearance to the military macaw but is slightly larger and lighter in color.


What does the great green macaw eat?

Great green macaws are herbivores which feed on fruits, nuts, seeds, flowers, roots and bark. A major component of their diet is the seed of the almendro (Dipteryx panamensis).

Due to the large size of their beak the great green macaw is able to break open nuts which other species cannot.

Macaws will often gather at areas of clay which they will lick.

The great green macaw is necessary within the forest to ensure that the seeds of plants are spread.

Great Green Macaw

Credit: riley, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Where can you find the great green macaw?

South and Central America is the native home of the great green macaw. Here they can be found in the following countries - Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; Honduras; Nicaragua and Panama.


What kind of environment does the great green macaw live in?

Great green macaws are known from patches of humid, wet lowland and deciduous forests. They may cross open areas while travelling.

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How does the great green macaw produce its young?

Breeding is variable across their range. In Ecuador it takes place from June to November.

Pairs of macaws are considered monogamous and remain together for life.

The nest is located in a tree hollow. As much as 90% of their nests are located in the mountain almond tree. The thick trunk of this tree helps to protect the nest from disturbance.

In to the hollow the female will deposit up to 3 eggs. These are incubated by the female for 26 days. At hatching the chicks are born blind and naked.

Both parents will work to feed the chicks until their fledging at 11 weeks after hatching. Chicks may remain with their parents for up to 1 year of life.


What does the great green macaw do with its day?

Great green macaws will move around in flocks of 5-6 members.

A range of vocalizations are produced by the great green macaw including a screech or a growl. When in flight they are highly vocal. They are also able to mimic the voice of humans.

In flight a great green macaw will fly at speeds of up to 56 km/h (35 mph).

Great Green Macaw

Credit: Alois Staudacher, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the great green macaw?

The population of the great green macaw is in decline with the current mature population believed to include just 500-1,000 individuals.

They have been affected by a range of factors including the conversion of their habitat for agriculture, cattle ranching and logging. Parts of their range are being converted for use as palm oil plantations.

Over half of their range has been lost accelerating their decline.

Capture of this species for the illegal wildlife trade and their feathers is also ongoing. Some are also shot due to a view that they are pests of crops.

Programs are ongoing to breed and release captive great green macaws to expand their population.

Quick facts

The great green macaw is also known as Buffon's macaw, great military macaw or grand military macaw.

Two subspecies of the great green macaw are recognized.

Great Green Macaw

Credit: Photo by David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


World Land Trust. 2021. Great Green Macaw: Species in World Land Trust reserves. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 October 2021].

BirdLife International. 2020. Ara ambiguusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T22685553A172908289. Downloaded on 21 October 2021. 2021. Great Green Macaw Care Sheet | Birds Coo. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 October 2021].

Bouglouan, N., 2021. Great Green Macaw. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 October 2021].

Wildlife Conservation Network. 2021. Great Green Macaws: The Aston-Martin of the Bird World - Wildlife Conservation Network. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 October 2021].

Trust, W., 2021. Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) | Parrot Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 October 2021]. 2021. Buffon's Macaw Facts and Information | SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 October 2021].

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