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Red Bellied Macaw Chronicles Part 6 - Feather Studies

Evet Loewen | Apr 24, 2013


Of any of my birds, the Red Bellied Macaws have always drawn the greatest interest from their caretakers and the treating veterinarians and staff. It is their subtle and elegant appearance that first attracts people to them. As one gets to know them, it is their amiable nature, sans the drama of other small macaws and conures, which draws people into their orbit.

Red Bellied Macaws have a distinctive yellow facial patch that was described as "heart-shaped" by staff at For the Birds. That facial patch is a dark yellow for older birds and for birds that get the appropriate amount of sunshine (more on that to come). The featheration over the head, neck and chest is opalescent with hints of turquoise and blues amidst the general light lime green cast. Hints of a brown tone appear on the back and secondaries mixed in with the greens.

Chest feathers below lower mandible (male)

Belly feathers below crop (female)

The leading edge of the wings finds more blue than green, again with an iridescent quality.  The underside of the wings brings in translucent yellow green featheration, with elongated narrow feathers.  All featheration seems very understated compared to my "high-contrast" Illiger's.

There really seems to be very little of a red-belly on this species - more of a small patch of burgundy in the vent area. The physiology of the species from head to tail is very trim, with the tail feathers tapering to an elongated narrowed "V".  Round dark brown eyes, black beak and legs and talons set apart the opalescent, nearly translucent featheration. 

They are handsome. They are not raucous. Though I have one who is pretty silly sometimes, silliness hasn't seemed to be their modus operandi.

Since this avian species, like all others, evolved to fill an environmental niche, and developed their featheration and colors and behaviors in order to survive and thrive in the wild, it is hopelessly anthropomorphic for me to equate their appearance with my perception of their behavior. However, so far I've not been censored on this blog, so I'll say this: the subtleties of their featheration match their understated (compared to other macaws) personalities. They just aren’t "in-your-face" kinda psittacines. Mine have been gentle souls. Not that they won’t give you a good bite if they have to. But they typically prefer not.

Four feathers from Marco (captive bred) on left, and four feathers from Jake (wild caught) on right



To Follow: Part 7-- Observing Sophia and Flock Integration