Red Fronted Macaw

Ara rubrogenys 

by Sally Blanchard

» Lives in a small semi-arid mountainous area of Bolivia
» Only in the Pet Trade in the late 1970s
» Critically endangered with a population of only 150 or so birds
» The smallest of the "Large Macaws" at 21.5 to 23.5"

The red-front is the smallest of the large macaws and one of the last ones to become a fairly common companion. I saw my first red-front in a mall pet shop in the late 1970s. This was only a few years after they were discovered in the wild and they are critically endangered now.

During a very stressful period in my life in the late 1980s, I had a red-fronted macaw for a short time. The bird had been in a far too small cage in a bird shop and had endured a great deal of trauma and neglect. He had been weaned far too young and received little or no handling before and after weaning. During a relocation, he was dropped down some stairs in a cage. For these reasons, he was very insecure and because he was too noisy, his too small cage was placed underneath a counter. He was about ten months old when he came to live with me and I “regression-weaned” him by handfeeding him soft warm foods with my fingers for a month or so. He then reweaned himself on his own timetable which really increased his sense of security. He stopped his incessant food begging. Although he still had some problems he became a delightful companion. He would sit on my shoulder and if he decided I was giving the television too much attention, he would spread one wing over my face and show me, up close and personal, the beautiful orange sherbert color in the inside of his wing. Unfortunately, I got him during a time that I had to spend a great deal of my life in southern California because my father was ill and dying and I had to find another home for him so he could get the attention that he needed..

I have met quite a few young red-fronts in the last few years and they have become one of my favorites. When I had my store with the 15 foot ceiling, I bird sat for a somewhat mischievous red-front named Merlin. It was such a delight to see him fly through the store showing off all of his colors. Youngsters don’t have the extensive colors of the adults but they become more colorful as they mature.

A well-socialized, properly weaned red-front has the potential to be one of the best avian companions. They can be loyal, amusing and, if they are secure,  generally quieter than the other macaw species. Their talking voice is quite sweet and melodic. One amusing behavior is the use of the orange sherbet on their inner wings to communicate. Perhaps because they are not an arboreal species, they seem to have flatter feet, which gives them a comical gait when they walk.  Some young birds seem to become traumatized fairly easily and should be treated with kid gloves until they get past that delicate stage. Young birds who have not been well-socialized can become problem screamers.  




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