Ara militaris 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Psittaciformes Psittacidae

Scientific Name: Ara militaris
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common Name(s):
English Military Macaw
Spanish Guacamayo Militar, Guacamayo Verde
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Taxonomic Notes:
Identification information: 70 cm. Large, green macaw. Overall dark lime-green. Red forehead and bare white facial area with black lines. Flight feathers blue above and yellowish-olive below. Blue lower back. Tail blue and red. All-black bill. Similar spp. Almost identical, but probably allopatric, Great Green Macaw Ara ambigua has greener hindneck and pale-tipped maxilla. Voice Noisy and harsh cr-a-a-a-k and various shrieking cries.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd+3cd+4cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Avendaño, J., Begazo, A., Bonilla, C., Brightsmith, D., Cantú, J., Hennessey, A., Herzog, S., Juárez, M., Lyons, J., Renton, K., Ricalde, D., Sharpe, C J, Politi, N., Rivera, L., Rojas Llanos, R. & Gilardi, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Isherwood, I., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.
This species is listed as Vulnerable because levels of habitat loss and capture for the cagebird trade indicate that there is a continuing rapid population decline. Its future ought to be secured by the large number of national parks in which it occurs, but many of these currently provide ineffective protection.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ara militaris occupies a massive but fragmented range from Mexico to Argentina. In Mexico, it occurs from central Sonora to Guerrero on the Pacific slope, east Nuevo León and Tamaulipas to San Luis Potosí on the Atlantic slope (Howell and Webb 1995a), and Durango, Morelos, Puebla and Oaxaca in the interior (C. Bonilla in litt. 2012). In Colombia, it is known from the Guajira Peninsula and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta through the Sierras de Perijá and de San Lucas, south along the East Andes, with local populations on the Pacific slope in Chocó, the Cauca valley, the head of the Magdalena valley and in the Sierra de la Macarena (Hilty and Brown 1986, Snyder et al. 2000). A new population was recently reported from two localities in the Catatumbo-Barí National Park on the Colombian-Venezuelan border (J. E. Avendaño in litt. 2011). It is very local in north Venezuela (Rojas-Suárez et al. 2004), and occurs disjunctly in the east Andes of Ecuador, Peru (also in the río Chinchipe drainage [Begazo in litt. 1999]), Bolivia and north-west Argentina. It has been extirpated from many areas, especially in Mexico (practically extirpated from most of Veracruz and Hidalgo on the Atlantic side, and Chiapas, Oaxaca, as well as coastal regions of Guerrero and Michoacan on the Pacific slope (Howell and Webb 1995a, K. Renton in litt. 2007), and is very local elsewhere. In Argentina the only records since 1991 are from Salta Province, with up to five birds in 2005-2007 at Finca Itaguazuti (Chebez 1994, M. Juárez in litt. 2007) and 50 in the Sierra de Tartagal (Navarro et al. 2008). Similarly, an assessment of 21 known localities in the southern Yungas of Bolivia) found a total of 37 individuals at eight of these (L. Rivera in litt. 2012). Populations in Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia face continuing threats, and further extirpations are expected.

Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Colombia; Ecuador; Mexico; Peru; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:276000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:11-100Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):3100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  This species is suspected to be declining due to continued habitat loss and capture for domestic trade.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:6000-15000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:2-100Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It inhabits humid lowland forest and adjacent cleared areas, wooded foothills and canyons. In Mexico, it is found in arid and semi-arid woodland, and pine-oak, humid lowland and riparian forest, moving seasonally to dense thorn-forest (Juniper and Parr 1998, Renton 2004), although in Puno, Peru it was found to be more abundant in a mosaic of shade coffee plantations and degraded remnant forest patches than in neighbouring pristine Yungas forest (S. K. Herzog in litt. 2007). It occurs from sea-level to 3,100 m, but the core range is 500-1,500 m (Juniper and Parr 1998). Nests and large communal roosts are sited on cliff-faces or in large trees (Howell and Webb 1995a, Juniper and Parr 1998, Cruz-Nieto et al. 2006).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):12.70
Movement patterns:Altitudinal Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss and especially domestic trade are the chief threats, even within reserves (Snyder et al. 2000). In 1991-1995, 96 wild-caught specimens were found in international trade, with Bolivia and Mexico possibly the most significant exporters (Chebez 1994, D. Brightsmith in litt. 2007). In Mexico, it is still one of the most sought-after species in the illegal cagebird trade; in 1995-2005, it was the fifth most seized Mexican Psittacine species by the country's Environmental Enforcement Agency, becoming the fourth most seized Psittacine species in 2007-2010 (J. C. Cantú in litt. 2010). In many areas it nests in relatively inaccessible cavities on cliff walls, which provides some protection against the pressures of nest poaching. However, nest poaching is a severe threat in Jalisco and Nayarit where the species nests in tree cavities (C. Bonilla in litt. 2007, K. Renton in litt. 2007). In Jalisco, Mexico, macaws were not found in deforested areas, even where abundant Hura polyandra (an important food source) were left as shade for cattle (Renton 2004). GARP analysis estimates that the species has suffered 23% habitat loss within its range in Mexico (Ríos Muñoz 2002). One sub-population in the Cauca valley, Colombia, numbering fewer than 50 mature individuals, may shortly be lost as a dam is expected to flood the sole nesting cliff (Fundación ProAves 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II, and legally protected in Venezuela, Peru and Salta province, Argentina (L. Rivera in litt. 2012). A trade ban in Mexico was decreed in October 2008 (J. C. Cantú in litt. 2010). There are reasonably healthy populations in El Cielo and Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserves, Mexico (J. Lyons in litt. 1998, K. Renton in litt. 2007), Madidi and Amboró National Parks, Pilon Lajas Biosphere Reserve and Apolobamba National Integrated Management Area, Bolivia ( Juniper and Parr 1998, B. Hennessey in litt. 1999, D. Ricalde in litt. 1999, S. K. Herzog in litt. 2007), and Manu Biosphere Reserve and Bahuaja Sonene National Park in Peru (S. K. Herzog in litt. 2007); a small but stable remnant population in Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve, Oaxaca, Mexico (C. Bonilla in litt. 2007, K. Renton in litt. 2007), with populations in at least some of the other protected areas in its potential range (IUCN 1992, Desenne and Strahl 1994, Chebez et al. 1998, Begazo in litt. 1999, B. Hennessey in litt. 1999, D. Ricalde in litt. 1999, Snyder et al. 2000).  The subspecies mexicana is part of the European Endangered [Species] Programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (

Conservation Actions Proposed
Assess its population status and ecological requirements. Monitor the largest known populations. Control capture and trade of wild birds, beginning in reserves (Desenne and Strahl 1994, Snyder et al. 2000). Improve management and awareness initiatives in and around national parks.  Develop and extend captive breeding programmes.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2013. Ara militaris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T22685548A48043680. . Downloaded on 28 October 2016.
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