Mini portrait: Blue-winged Macaw

Blue-winged Macaw or Illiger's Macaw (Primolius maracana), until 2006 in recent times known under the scientific Latin species name Ara maracana).

A wonderful and lively "Mini-Macaw" of just over 40 cm, which used to be extremely rare in human care (read: captivity). I was lucky enough as a boy to "bump into" this species by chance way back around 1970, when, most surprisingly, there was a single tamed pet bird sitting in a secluded pet shop in Copenhagen's inner city, which my parents allowed me to buy for own saved funds.

The Blue-winged Macaw is, like the other "Mini-Macaws" (which are now divided into several different genera), extremely noisy, but it has a fervor and a presence in its relationship with people that makes it an exciting acquaintance.

Outside the breeding season, it has a friendly nature, and single kept birds can become very tame and good at imitating. Over recent years, it has often been bred in human care, and it is probably today the Blue-winged Macaw that is the most often offered "Mini-Macaw"species for sale in a number of European countries.

Until the year 2000, BirdLife International categorized it as a “Vulnerable” species, but it was then happily downgraded to the “Near Treated” category, as the organization assessed the future prospects in the nature for this species as being more positive. Currently BirdLife International estimates that there are between 1,500 and at most 7,000 specimens of this species left in the wild. Its two closest relatives are categorized respectively in the “Least Concern” category, Yellow-collared Macaw (Primolius auricollis), and the “Vulnerable” category, Blue-headed Macaw (Primolius couloni).

Blue-winged Macaw or Illiger's Macaw (Primolius maracana) is an exciting acquaintance for every avicultirist, e.g. by virtue of its warmth and presence in relation to people

The Blue-winged Macaw used to be widespread over a very large range in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, but it is now considered extinct in Argentina. Generally speaking, the population in the wild is declining relatively quickly as a result of man's destruction of its natural habitats and because this species is particularly considered a crop pest. In addition, very unfortunately, it is still hunted, as it continuosly is captured for the cage bird trade.

The scientific Latin species name "maracana" is the natives' name for the bird and is associated with its cry. It loves to bathe, which is why it should always have access to clean bathing water when the conditions otherwise allow it.


Jorgen Petersen


Conceived/Updated: 29.02.2012 / 01.01.2024