Green-winged / Greenwing or Red and Green Macaw

The Green-winged or Red-and-green Macaws (Ara chloroptera) are the most common of the large macaws and are widespread in the forests of South America.

However, in recent years their numbers have declined due to destruction of their habitat, illegal capturing for the pet trade, and hunting; and these magnificent birds are now considered in danger of extinction (CITES II).

They are the second largest members of the macaw family – the largest being the Hyacinth Macaws.

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    Green-winged or Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloroptera)
    Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloropterus), also known as the Green-winged Macaw

    They have very powerful beaks that can generate a pressure of 500 up to 2,000+ psi (pounds per square inch). Humans, for example, average a bite force of around 150 psi. These large macaws are capable of crushing or opening even the hardest nuts and seeds.

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      In flight, they can reach speeds of up to 35 miles / 56 km per hour.

      These majestic parrots have been kept in captivity as far back as the 17th century. Nowadays, these “Gentle Giants” – so named for their large size and gentle disposition – are well established in aviculture and are readily available as pets.

      They are fairly long-lived, capable of living 60 years or longer.

      Distribution / Habitat

      They occur naturally from eastern Panama in Central America south across Northern South America, from Colombia east to Venezuela, the Guianas and south through Brazil (Parana and Mato Grosso) to Paraguay and west to eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru and northern and eastern Bolivia. Rarely, they are found in northern Argentina (Formosa).

      They are found in tropical rainforests along lowlands and the lower foothills of interior regions, mostly avoiding coastal areas.

      These forest birds spend most of their days foraging in the canopy. They are usually seen in pairs or small family groups.

      Distribution Map of Green-winged Macaws (Ara chloropterus)
      Female Green-wing Macaw wearing an EZ Bird Harness

      Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloropterus), also known as the Green-winged Macaw


      They are usually between 26- 39 inches (66 – 99 cm) long (including the long tail), and have a wingspan of 41 – 49 inches (104 – 125 cm). They weigh between 32 – 60 oz (900 – 1700 grams).

      The chest is bright red. The “shoulders” or upper wings are red, as is the upper back and head; the middle wing feathers are green, turning blue toward the tips. On the tail, iridescent teal feathers are surrounded by red.

      There are characteristic bright red lines around the eyes formed by rows of tiny feathers on the otherwise bare white skin patch.

      The upper bill is horn-colored with black on the sides and the lower bill is dark grey or black.

      The eyes are yellow and the legs are grey.

      Gender ID:

      Males and females look alike, except for females usually being slightly smaller in size. However, this method of sexing these parrots is not very reliable and DNA or surgical sexing is generally recommended in cases where the gender is important (such as birds being placed into breeding programs).


      Red-and-green Macaw or Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloroptera)

      Look like adults, but have shorter tails, grey eyes and the lower bill is grey with a white base.

      Similar Species:

      They are often confused with the Scarlet Macaw. They are most easily distinguished by the following:

      • Upper Wing Feathers: The Green-winged Macaw has green upper-wing covert feathers – while the Scarlet has yellow, or yellow and green upper wing feathers.
      • Plumage: Darker red plumage
      • Tail: Shorter, blue-tipped tail (red-tipped in the Scarlet)
      • Face: The Green-winged Macaw has red feather stripes around their eyes on the otherwise bare white skin patch, which the Scarlet doesn’t have.
      • Size: The Red-and-Green is larger in size than the Scarlet. This is most obvious when they are seen side-by-side.
      Red-and-green Macaw or Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloroptera)
      Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloropterus), also known as the Green-winged Macaw

      Red-and-green Macaw or Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloroptera)

      Diet / Feeding

      They mostly feed on various seeds, nuts, fruits and green vegetation. They also feed on clay, plant matter and tree barks.

      For more information on what to feed your Macaw, click the link!

      Breeding / Nesting

      They are monogamous, forming pair bonds that last a lifetime. However, if they lose a mate, they will usually find another.

      The average clutch consists of 1 – 3 eggs, which are laid in the cavity of a tree.

      The eggs are incubated by the female for about 25 – 28 days. The young leave the nest about 90 days after hatching.

      In captivity, these macaws are often crossed with other large macaw species to develop a number of hybrids, such as Buffwing, Calico, Harlequin, Ruby, Cameo, Flame and Jubilee Macaws.

      Calls / Vocalizations / Sounds

      Their calls include different vocalizations, such as shrieking, or yelping and cawing sounds made by Common Crows.

      Sound Recordings

      Red-and-green Macaw or Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloroptera)

      Red-and-green Macaws as Pets 

      Confusion over Naming and Alternate (Global) Names

      English Names

      Historically, there has always been a lot of confusion with the Scarlet Macaws, which also have a mostly red plumage. However, only the Green-winged Macaw has a broad green band on the wings (which is mostly yellow in the Scarlet).

      The confusion also extended to their naming. The macaw with the green wing band – Ara chloroptera – was known as the Green-winged or Red and Blue Macaw, Red-blue-and-green or Red-green Macaw, Crimson or Maroon Macaw.

      Its smaller cousin with the yellow band – the Ara macao – was referred to as Red or Red and Gold Macaw, Red and Yellow, Red-yellow-and-blue or Scarlet Macaw.

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        Dr. Osmond Hill researched these species, and in 1949 suggested as a way of ending this mix-up to refer to the Ara chloroptera as the “Green-winged Macaw” and the Ara macao as the “Scarlet Macaw”.

        The Green-winged Macaw as well as the Hyacinth are often referred to as “Gentle Giants” – in reference to their large size yet very gentle personalities.

        Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloropterus)

        Global Names

        Chinese: ????? … Czech: Ara zelenokrídlý, ara zelenok?ídlý … Danish: Mørkerød Ara … Dutch: Groenvleugelara … Estonian: rohetiib-aara … Finnish: Vihersiipiara … French: Ara chloroptère, Ara de Cuba … Irish: Macá gorm dearg glas … German: Grünflügelara … Guarani: Gua’a pyt … Italian: Ara aliverdi, Ara rossoverde … Japanese: benikongouinko … Norwegian: Grønnvingerødara, Grønnvinget rødara, Mørkerød ara … Polish: ara zielonoskrzydla, ara zielonoskrzyd?a … Portuguese: arara-canga, arara-piranga, arara-verde, Arara-vermelha, arara-vermelha-grande … Russian: ???????????? ??? … Slovak: Ara zelenokrdla, ara zelenokrídla … Spanish: Guacamaya Rojiverde, Guacamayo Aliverde, Guacamayo Rojo, Papagayo rojo … Swedish: Grönvingad ara, Mörkgrön ara

        Green-winged or Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloroptera)

        Further Macaw Information

        Green-winged Macaws as Pets


        Red-and-green Macaws or Green-winged Macaws (Ara chloroptera)

        Red-and-green Macaws as Pets:

        Some macaw owners and experts call the Green-winged Macaw the “gentle giant”, as it is larger in size than the Scarlet Macaw and Blue-and-yellow Macaw, but has a more docile and sweet nature which often makes it a more desirable pet than the other two popular species.

        However, with size comes strength that must be considered when deciding if a Red-and-green Macaw would be a fit addition to a household. Their strong beaks can easily snap a broomstick in half.

        Red-and-green Macaws or Green-winged Macaws (Ara chloroptera)

        Bird experts often advise those interested in obtaining a macaw as a pet to educate themselves extensively about these birds prior to obtaining one, as they require more attention than a dog or cat.

        They require large space due to large size. Preferably a bird room or aviary, but large cages are acceptable provided they are given plenty of opportunities to be out of their cages, maybe on an play stand with lots of toys to engage their strong beaks and keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

        They can be trained to talk – although they are not considered very good mimics. They are very demanding and have a tendency to become aggressive or pluck, if their considerable needs aren’t met.

        They are noisy and are not good choices for those sensitive to noise – or living with people or close to people that could be annoyed by it.

        Macaw Owner Penny (her birds are featured at the bottom of this page) describes her experience with her companion birds as follows: “My […] Macaw […] Rosie is now 14 yrs. old. She is never in a cage. She sleeps on a perch next to my bed, eats at the table, watches TV in the living room and has a 6 ft. long perch on the front porch.

        She also loves car rides. She rides on the passenger seat and sings and dances to the radio. I took her to Florida last year and she loved it I believe as much as I did. Then I have Pepper, another Greenwing, who is 6 yrs. old who came with a little boy Triton Cockatoo named Baby, who is also 6.

        I have had them for about 8 months. Pepper up until about four months ago had never talked or was never willing to leave the cage.

        Finally she has begun to be very sweet and comical. She still has an issue about bathing but she will come around Baby is a sweet and a piece of work. He loves to cuddle and laugh.

        He also has changed a lot since he came. He loves to talk and makes funny little noises. At first, he did nothing but scream and destroy anything and everything he could get a hold of – but not anymore.

        I love my birds.” (PS. Penny also shares her home with 2 dogs, 7 cats, 1 mouse and 1 rabbit)

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          Red-and-green Macaw or Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloroptera)
          Greenwing Macaw wearing a bird harness

          Green winged Macaw – Ara chloroptera

          Training and Behavioral Guidance:

          Macaw ownership generally presents multiple challenges, such as excessive chewing – especially at certain stages in their life.

          They do discover their beaks as method of “disciplining us” once they are out of the “baby stage” and they can generally be somewhat naughty, and it really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.

          Undisciplined macaws will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires.

          They regard anything in your home as a “toy” that can be explored and chewed on; destroying items that you may hold dear or are simply valuable.

          Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation.

          Not everybody can tolerate the natural loud call of a macaw and even though it can’t (or should not) be entirely eliminated, there are ways to discourage screaming / screeching in your pet macaw.

          Overall, it is important to guide parrot behavior, but even more so if your feathered family member is a magnificent and powerful macaw.

          • AvianWeb Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit the following website to learn more about parrot behavior and training.
          SeaAquarium Photo

          If you are considering one of these magnificent parrots as pets, please visit the following websites for information:

          Diet / Feeding

          In captivity, a quality dry food mix, in addition to fresh food items, and sources rich in minerals need to be provided. Check out this article on Macaw food here.

          Further Macaw Information

          Photo of author

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