Scarlet Macaw (25)
Scarlet macaws are large colorful parrots that live in Central and South America. Some scientists think that the scarlet macaws found in Central America, called Ara macao cyanoptera, are a different subspecies from those found in Brazil, called Ara macao macao. A subspecies is a group of animals that is very similar to, but slightly different from, other animals within the same species. The South American scarlet macaw is a red and yellow bird with white patches on its face and green feathers on its wings. The Central American scarlet macaw is also red and yellow with white patches on its face, but is larger and has blue on its wings instead of green. The Central American scarlet macaw is found in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, while the South American scarlet macaw is found in Columbia, Equador, Peru and Brazil.
Other scientists think that there should only be one species of scarlet macaw called Ara macao. They think that there are not enough differences between the South American and Central American scarlet macaws to make them separate subspecies. Scientists are now using genetic analysis and other scientific methods to try to answer this question.
Scarlet macaws prefer undisturbed rainforest. They eat fruits, nuts, flowers and nectar, and they often eat unripe fruit and nuts that other animals avoid. These macaws also eat clay from river banks. No one is sure why they do this, but the clay seems to be important to them. One hypothesis is that the clay helps the parrots to digest poisonous chemicals found in the unripe fruit they eat.