Avian Expert Articles

Macaws Get U.S. Fish & Wildlife Protection

Military macaw; Ara militaris
Military macaw

For many species, the threat of extinction is a real one. And for many of us, we are usually unaware of the absolute disappearance of any creature when the last animal has taken its last breath. It is when such animals and other organisms are no longer able to adapt to a continually changing environment that once allowed for their unfettered proliferation. A natural extinction rate typically allowed for the loss of one to five species a year. But with the increase of illegal poaching, and other unavoidable changes, we now see an alarming rate of extinction occurring at an unnatural rate of approximately a dozen or more organisms a day.

One of the more visible wonders of our little world is the birds that fly in its beautiful skies. With a wide range of natural habitats that include exclusivity to certain environments, our birds are also at risk of extinction. In fact, there are plenty of birds currently on the endangered list.

Recently, there was attention drawn to the plight of the Kakapo parrot, a bird found in New Zealand. This particular parrot cannot fly, but has other fascinating traits that help to maintain its uniqueness over the other parrot species. Currently, there are around 125 Kakapo parrots in existence. That’s up from a one-time low of only 50 in 1995. Their protection is highly guarded, a factor that has contributed to their rise in number.

Another encouraging sign for an endangered species is the recent sighting of a batch of thirteen Orange-Bellied Parrots, which sadly represents almost 20% of the remaining known population (approximately 65 birds in existence). They are located in Melaleuca, a remote locality near Tasmania, Australia. With their early sighting, hope is brought that the birds are beginning to increase by their breeding with favorable environmental provisions.

More recently, two rare Macaw parrots have been listed as endangered. The Great Green Macaw, a native of Central and South America, is one of the larger of the Macaw species. They are distinguished not only by their size, but also by a reddish forehead with a blue-feathered lower back. Of course, they are mostly green in color throughout. Unfortunately, their present population is estimated at around 3,000.

The other newly listed macaw is the Military Macaw. This bird is smaller than the previously mentioned Great Green Macaw, but bears a visual resemblance to it. Military Macaws also sport a reddish forehead and are also predominately green in color. A distinguishing part of their appearance is the blue “flight” feathers. Interestingly, these birds have an adorable ability to “blush” red and pink when they get excited. These birds are native to Mexico and South America. Their present population is estimated at around 13,000.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ruled that these two Macaw species be utterly protected to avoid the all-too-real possibility of their extinction. The protection order was announced on October 2, and will take effect on November 2. The listing by the Endangered Species Program adds them to an already full exotic bird listing that includes the White Cockatoo (2014, 8,000 to 48,000 remaining), the Blue-throated Macaw (2013, 500 remaining), the Hyacinth Macaw (2013, 1500 remaining), the Philippine Cockatoo (2014, 450 to 1,245 remaining), and the Yellow-crested Cockatoo (2014, 6,000 remaining). Of course, there are more. You can read a short ESA listing.

There are several creative ways to participate in the fight to preserve some of this world’s most beautiful assets including the Great Green Macaw, the Military Macaw, and the other exotic birds listed. Even better, with the unnecessarily elevated extinction rate so prevalent, there are many well-designed programs to allow animal and bird lovers like ourselves to provide assistance. A good place to start is this official  web page from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species division.











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