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Severe Macaw

Severe Macaw

OverviewAlternate (Global) Names

Distribution / HabitatSubspecies, Ranges and ID

DescriptionCalls / Vocalizations

Breeding / NestingDiet / Feeding

The Chestnut-fronted or Severe Macaws (Ara severa) are larger mini-macaws that have a wide range over southern parts of Central America and over a large area in northern South America.

Populations occurring in Brazil are often referred to as the Brazilian Green Macaws.

Their common English names refer to the chestnut-colored feathers across their foreheads and the name “Severe” was derived from their reputation of being aggressive as they reach adulthood – a name that some feel is ill-deserved.

Their lifespan is listed between 25 up to 80 years, but I would say the lower end is more realistic. The longer lifespan that some resources list is more applicable to the larger parrots than the mini-macaws. Mini macaws reach reproductive maturity when they are about 3 – 4 years old.

Chestnut-fronted Macaw or Severe Macaw (Ara severa)

Distribution / Habitat

Severe Macaws are found from eastern Panama, south along the Pacific Slope of the Andes in western Colombia to southern Ecuador, and east of Andes from Colombia, eastern Ecuador and eastern Peru to Santa Cruz, eastern Bolivia.

Their range also stretches north of the Amazon river east to western and southern Venezuela, the Guianas, Suriname and southwards through Amazonia (northwest of Maranhao in northeastern Brazil and north of Mato Grosso in western Brazil) to northern Bolivia.

Severe Macaw

Chestnut-fronted Macaw or Severe MacawIntroduced populations have established themselves in southern Florida, USA.

Their habitats are various forests (partly cleared, secondary, humid lowland, gallery, swamp, Várzea and humid lowland forests); as well as being found along forest edges, in open country with trees, palm groves, and savannas. They generally avoid continuous terra firme forests (= rainforests that are not inundated by flooded rivers). They occur at elevations up to 4,920 feet (1,500 meters).

These mini-macaws are generally difficult to spot as they are usually roosting quietly in the canopy – usually in pairs or small flocks.

The greatest threat to these birds is the deforestation of their habitat and local declines have been reported in Cauca Valley in Colombia and western Ecuador. However, they appear to be withstanding, or even benefitting from, selective logging and land clearing.

Subspecies, Ranges and ID:

  • Chestnut-fronted Macaw (Ara severus severus – Linnaeus, 1758) – nominal form
    • Range: Along the Orinoco River in Eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana and northern Brazil
  • Lafresnaye’s aka Lafresnayes Macaw (Ara severus castaneifrons – Lafresnaye, 1847)
    • Some authorities include this race with the nominate form.Range: Eastern Panama, Western Colombia, Ecuador, Eastern Peru, Northern Bolivia, Mato Grosso in BrazilID: Marginally larger in size. Otherwise identical to nominate form.



They are about the same size as Congo Greys, but have a more slender body structure.

Length: about 15.6 to 20 inches (~40 to 50 centimeters) of which around half is the length of the tail

Weight: between 10.6 – 14.5 oz (300 – 410 g).

Chestnut-fronted Macaw or Severe Macaw (Ara severa)

Physical Description:

  • The plumage is mostly green with patches of red shoulders and blue on the wings.
  • There is a blue wash on the crown.
  • The underside of the flight feathers are dark orange-red, red/brown and tipped blue.
  • There is a chestnut brown patch above the beak. The chest feathers are also tipped with a bit of chestnut brown and there is also a bit of brown down the sides of their cheeks and under the chin
  • This is the only mini-macaw to have lines of tiny red-brown feathers on the white bare facial skin, as is typical of the larger types of macaw.
  • The tail feathers are mostly green, except the feathers in the central area are red-brown, turning blue toward the tip.
  • The beak is greyish-black.
  • The feet are grey.
  • The eyes (irises) are yellow.

Gender ID

  • Males and females look alike.


  • Dark grey eyes
  • Shorter tails

Diet / Feeding

Their natural diet consists of seeds, nuts, fruits, green leafy matter and flowers.

Breeding / Nesting

The breeding season differs by location. In Panama, they mostly breed from February to March; in Colombia from March to May; and in the Guianas and Suriname from September to December.

They usually nest in the cavities of dead or living trees.

The average clutch consists of 2 – 3 oval, white eggs that measure about 1.5 x 1.2 inches (38.5 x 30.5 mm) in size. The eggs are incubated for about 26 – 28 days to hatching. The young fledge (leave the nest) when they are about 3 months old, but will remain for their parents for some time afterwards.

Calls / Vocalizations / Sounds

Their calls in flight are loud and high-pitched. Their noisy contact calls include harsh screeches.

Sound Recordings

Chestnut-fronted Macaw or Severe Macaw (Ara severa) - bathing

Chestnut-fronted Macaw or Severe Macaw (Ara severa)Alternate (Global) Names

Chinese: ?????? … Czech: Ara malý … Danish: Dværgara … Dutch: Dwergara, Lafresnaye Dwergara … Estonian: jõgiaara … Finnish: Joikuara … French: Ara à front chtain, Ara sévère, Ara vert, Ara vert, Ara sévère de Lafresnaye … German: Rotbugara, Lafresnaye Rotbugara … Italian: Ara frontecastana, Ara severa … Japanese: himekongouinko … Norwegian: Brunpanneara, Dvergara … Polish: ara kasztanowoczelna … Portuguese: anacã, ararica, ararinha, ararinha-de-fronte-castanha, maracanã, maracanã-açu, Maracanã-guacu, maracanã-guaçu … Russian: ?????????????? ??? … Slovak: ara tmavocelá , ara tmavo?elá … Spanish: Guacamaya Cariseca, Guacamayo Severo, Maracaná Grande … Swedish: Dvärgara


Severe Macaws as Pets

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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