The macaw is the common name for a group of birds in the parrot family. They are brightly coloured, with long tail feathers and strong, curved beaks. The majority of these beautiful birds are found in the American Tropics, though most species are classed as endangered.
Deforestation, coupled with the relatively slow reproduction rate of the macaw, is the main cause of the problem. Macaws like to nest high up in dead trees, gnawing an appropriately-sized hole in which to lay the egg. As well as being high up, macaws are keen to retain a considerable distance between them and another nesting pair. Thus the increased removal of dead trees has caused increased competition between macaws. With many of the higher nesting sites gone, nesting pairs are forced to roost lower down, leaving their babies vulnerable to a range of predators. The loss of one baby macaw really does have a profound effect on the viability of the species. Seventeen living species remain; several West Indian varieties are now extinct, and the only species which enjoy a reasonably secure population are the Blue and GoldMacaw.
The Blue and Gold Macaw, along with the Red-Shouldered Macaw, are commonly seen in pet shops and zoos. The majority of these are legally exported from South America to other parts of the world, though there is also a number of illegal exports. Macaws are a colourful, exotic and endlessly intriguing pet, but they are large, loud and demanding. As a relatively intelligent animal, a macaw will need attention and toys to keep them busy. Their strong beaks are designed for chewing, and this activity is something a macaw will gleefully engage in, blissfully unconcerned about whether it's busy carving an antique chair or an old log. In short - if you want to keep a macaw, know what you're getting into.
The lifespan of a macaw is anything up to a hundred years, although about 50 to 65 years is more common. Bear in mind that macaws are monogamous and mate for life. A solitary macaw will bind primarily with their keeper, and are extremely demanding of attention. Not, in other words, the ideal pet unless you know exactly what you're doing and have read far, far more than this short introductory article.