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Great Green Macaw

 (Ara ambiguus)
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© Allan Taylor

Project Status: Active | mid-1990s - current


Ara Manzanillo, Macaw Recovery Network, Pro-Forest Foundation, Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí, HARI (Hagen Avicultural Research Institute), Natural Encounters Conservation Fund, Paradise Park, Macaw Landing Foundation, Tracy Aviary, Zoo de Doue, In Defense of Animals (IDA), Kilverstone Trust, Shared Earth Foundation, Lynn Chase Wildlife Foundation, Adelaide Zoo, In Defense of Animals, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), Barbara Delano Foundation, Kyle Brown Legacy Fund, Paultons Park, Woburn Safari Park

Macaw in danger of extinction

In its native Central America loss of habitat has reduced the Great Green Macaw’s (Ara ambiguus) population to as low as 500.

Progress and outcomes:  Since the mid-1990s the World Parrot Trust has supported several in-country organisations to help save the species.

Projects include protecting unique lowland Atlantic forest in Costa Rica, funding Fundación ProBosque for an honorary warden program to protect the macaws in Ecuador, and partnering with The Ara Project (as of 2019 Ara Manzanillo and Macaw Recovery Network, two separate entities) in Costa Rica, and Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí in Ecuador to help increase Great Green Macaw populations through captive breeding, rescue, release, and reforestation efforts. In 2016, Fundación ProBosque, in conjunction with Jambelí Rescue Foundation, released five Great Green Macaws to the wild after a stint in a pre-release flight. In Costa Rica, WPT collaborates with Ara Manzanillo on the Caribbean coast, and Macaw Recovery Network at Punta Islita on the Pacific coast. Staff at Ara Manzanillo have crafted 18 nests and installed them 25 meters high in native trees in the area. Between 2016 and 2019 more than 30 chicks have fledged and are now flying free. Macaw Recovery Network staff in 2019 monitored 36 wild nests that were active. Twenty-four of those had chicks that successfully fledged.

Focus on future work: Efforts undertaken in the next few decades will likely decide the fate of this species. WPT will continue to support its partners and their work towards:

  • Aiding in the confiscation of Great Green Macaws from the wildlife trade
  • Rehabilitating confiscated birds
  • Encouraging captive reproduction of the species
  • Releasing birds to the wild to supplement wild populations
  • Educating locals about sustainable use of lands
  • Assisting with habitat restoration efforts

With your help we can further ensure the protection of these birds. 

IUCN/CITES Status: Critically Endangered / Appendix I

Wild Population: 500 - 1000 mature individuals

Where found: A.a. ambiguus: Caribbean lowlands of E Honduras to NW Colombia.
A.a. guayaquilensis: W Ecuador, Esmeraldas; smaller numbers in the Cordillera de Chongon-Colonche, Guayas.

History: Once common throughout the entire Caribbean, Great Green Macaw populations have declined alarmingly in recent years due to poaching and deforestation, in particular the cutting of Mountain Almond trees. BirdLife International states that over the past 50 years global populations have been reduced by half. A census conducted in the Cordillera de Chongon Colonche and Esmeraldas Province in Ecuador in 2010 found only 8 birds, with the current population in all of Ecuador suspected to be 30-40 birds (E. Horstman in litt. 2012). Recent conservation efforts in Costa Rica have stabilized numbers with less than 300 birds and an estimated 25-35 breeding pairs remaining (PsittaScene Aug. 2011).


  • Unsustainable exploitation for the wild bird trade
  • Subspecies guayaquilensis reportedly shot as a crop-pest
  • Conversion of forest to oil-palm and banana plantations, causing the loss of the large Mountain Almond
  • Increased impact of logging, agriculture, illegal coca plantations, gold mining and hunting
  • Illegal trapping for in-country trade, food and feathers

Ecology: This macaw prefers lowland humid forest and also strongly deciduous forest; in Costa Rica lowland primary forest. It is found at altitudes to 600m (1968 ft) in Costa Rica and1000m (3280 ft) in Panama. Less gregarious than other large macaws, it is found in pairs and groups of 3-4 birds, foraging on fruits, nuts, bulbs and flowers.

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