Military Macaws-Main

Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Fall/Winter 2007 issue.

Military Macaws, or guacamayas as they are known locally, are a class of medium-sized parrots native to Mexico, Central and South America. Not quite as colorful as some of the larger members of the macaw family, the Military Macaws are equally impressive.

There are three subspecies of the Military Macaw: Ara M. Militaris, Ara M. Mexicana and Ara M. Boliviana. Of these, it is the Mexicana that is considered to be more abundant. It is a medium-sized macaw with mostly green plumage, except for a red frontal band and a blue tinge on the back of the head.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), an authoritative guide to the status of extinction risk of many animal species around the world, the Military Macaw is considered "vulnerable." This may not seem apparent, given the number of macaws that can be found at pet stores in Mexico, the United States and Canada. And this comes as no surprise. Macaws can be extremely playful and can mimic human voices, even intelligible words, quite well. Macaws are monogamous, remaining bonded for life, and require constant attention from their human families when domesticated. Given that fact, and their expected life span of 50 to 60 years, one should truly think twice before considering adopting one of these animals as pets.

More comprehensive education and awareness, particularly in Mexico's rural areas where people routinely raid macaw nests in search for newborn chicks, would go a long way in helping preserve the species. Specific action taken by conservation groups in the United States has successfully removed the Bald Eagle from the IUCN list of endangered species. Much work is left to be done for other birds, such as the critically endangered California Condor and the Whooping Crane. Locally, a group of Puerto Vallarta concerned citizens have set in motion the creation of a local conservation group exclusively devoted to the preservation of these beautiful creatures. For more information, please contact Bob Price at the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens at