Blue-winged Macaw Primolius maracana


Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Near Threatened because the population is moderately small and undergoing moderately rapid declines owing to extensive loss of habitat and trapping for the cagebird trade.

Population justification
The population is estimated to be in the band 2,500-9,999 individuals in total, equating to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 individuals.

Trend justification
A moderately rapid and on-going population decline is suspected owing to habitat loss, capture for the cage-bird trade and persecution as a crop pest.

Distribution and population

Propyrrhura maracana formerly occupied a huge range in Brazil (Pernambuco, Piauí, Maranhão, Pará, Tocantins, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Bahia, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul), Paraguay (Concepción, Canindeyú, Amambay, Alto Paraná and Caazapá) and Argentina (Misiones and north Corrientes), but has undergone a decline (Chebez 1994, Juniper and Parr 1998). The species is found in Marajó island, Pará (where it is common in mangrove forest and cerrado), over most of Brazil to Paraná and adjoining parts of Paraguay. There are no recent records from Misiones, Argentina and it is thought to be virtually extinct in the country (Bodrati et al. 2006). In São Paulo state, the species has its stronghold in and around Caetetus Ecological Station. In Brazil, this macaw is found in a broad range of habitats, including mangrove forest in Marajó, semi-deciduous and humid forest in southern Pará and São Paulo, Atlantic forest in Rio de Janeiro, Bahia and Espirito Santo, cerrado in Tocantins, and caatinga in Bahia and Piauí. Despite declines in the southern part of its range the species remains widespread over most of its Brazilian range, and has even recolonised areas in its historical range in southern Rio de Janeiro, including the environs of Itatiaia National Park (Collar 1997a). Some areas considered as strongholds for the species are largely protected (Serra do Cachimbo in Pará is mostly under care of the Brazilian military, who bar colonists and loggers, although they conduct weapon tests in parts of the range) or not under strong pressure (Marajó). Previously unreported populations have been found in the Atlantic forest of Itarana (Barra Encoberta, Santa Joana, Alto Jatiboca e Limoeiro [de Jetibá 2003]).


It inhabits evergreen and deciduous forest (including Atlantic forest and cerrado savanna) with an apparent preference for gallery forest (especially in the Caatinga region) and forest edge up to 1,000 m (Sick 1997, Juniper and Parr 1998). There is evidence of breeding from December through February in north-east Brazil (Y. de Melo Barros verbally 1999). It apparently feeds on seeds from Cnidoscolus phyllacanthus and Jatropha spp. (Y. de Melo Barros verbally 1999), Guazuma ulmifolia (C. Yamashita in litt. 2000) as well as introduced like Melia azederach (Chebez 1994) and Casuarina (Camacho et al. 2009). It appears able to persist in fragmented landscapes where a core area of forest remains but it is unlikely that landscapes containing only small fragments are capable of sustaining the species (Nunes and Galetti 2007).


Its decline is only partly explicable by deforestion, since it has disappeared from localities where apparently suitable habitat remains (Juniper and Parr 1998). It suffers from capture for the cage-bird trade, with 183 individuals arriving in the USA from Paraguay between 1977 and 1979 (Chebez 1994). At least in Argentina its decline could have been largely caused by persecution as a crop pest (Bodrati et al. 2006).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. It has been recorded at numerous protected areas in Brazil, but Serra do Cachimbo is unprotected and Serra Negra Biological Reserve is a mere 10 km (Wege and Long 1995, Clay et al. 1998). Twenty birds have been released in Bahia, Brazil, with the intention of correlating differences in ability to survive in the wild with differences of history in captivity (Waugh 1997).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Collate data on specimen and recent records to provide an improved assessment of distribution and status. Monitor known populations to assess trends. Investigate the impact of trade. Protect habitat in areas known to harbour high concentrations of the species and develop captive breeding programmes to further extend this range.


36-43 cm. Small, colourful macaw. Pale green body. Red front and bluish crown. Yellowish-white bare face patch. Pale red rump and patch in mid-belly. Blue flight feathers, and mostly blue uppertail, with yellowish underside. Moderately-sized black bill. Similar spp. No other small macaw has red on front. Distinguished from Aratinga parakeets by bare facial patch. Voice High-pitched and harsh screeching.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Clay, R., Mansur, E., Sharpe, C J, Stattersfield, A., Symes, A.

de Melo Barros, Y., Yamashita, C., Clay, R.P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Primolius maracana. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/08/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/08/2019.