Red-shouldered macaw

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Red-shouldered macaw
Diopsittaca nobilis -pet-2-4c.JPG
Hahn's macaw (D. n. nobilis)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Genus: Diopsittaca
Ridgway, 1912
D. nobilis
Binomial name
Diopsittaca nobilis

D. n. cumanensis (Lichtenstein 1823)
D. n. longipennis Neumann 1931
D. n. nobilis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Diopsittaca nobilisVC-s.jpg
Distribution across South America
  • Ara nobilis (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Psittacus nobilis Linnaeus, 1758

The red-shouldered macaw (Diopsittaca nobilis) is a small green South American parrot, a member of a large group of Neotropical parrots called macaws. The species is named for the red coverts on its wings, it is the smallest macaw, being 30–35 cm (12–14 in) in length. It is native to the tropical lowlands, savannah, and swamplands[2] of Venezuela, the Guianas, Bolivia, Brazil, and far south-eastern Peru, it has two distinct subspecies, the noble macaw and the Hahn's macaw, and a possible poorly distinct third subspecies that has longer wings, but is otherwise similar to the noble macaw. The Hahn's subspecies is named for German zoologist Carl-Wilhelm Hahn, who in 1834 began compiling Ornithologischer Atlas oder naturgetreue Abbildung und Beschreibung der aussereuropäischen Vögel (Engl: Ornithological Atlas or natural depiction and description of birds from outside Europe).[3]

Red-shouldered macaws are frequently bred in captivity for the pet trade, where they are sometimes described as mini-macaws.

Though wild populations of red-shouldered macaws have declined locally due to habitat loss, they are listed as Least Concern by IUCN, they are listed on Appendix II of CITES, trade restricted.


The red-shouldered macaw (Diopsittaca nobilis, Linnaeus, 1758) is a member of the monotypic genus Diopsittaca (Ridgway 1912), one of 6 genera of Central and South American macaws. There are two distinct subspecies, D. n. nobilis (Hahn's macaw) and D. n. cumanensis (noble macaw), and some with longer wings might represent a poorly differentiated subspecies, D. n. longipennis, which intergrades with D. n. cumanensis in central Goiás, Brazil.[4][5] The species is sometimes subsumed into the genus Ara.[6]


Noble macaw at Parque das Aves, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil.

The red-shouldered macaw, at 30 cm (12 in) long and 165 g (5.8 oz) weight, is the smallest of all the macaws. Like all macaws, it has a long narrow tail and a large head, it has bright green feathers on the body, with dark or slate blue feathers on the head just above the beak. The wings and tail have feathers that are bright green above and olive-green below; the leading edges of the wings, especially on the underside, are red. (These red feathers appear at puberty.) Their eyes are orange, and the skin around the eyes is white without feathers, just as in the larger macaws. This bare patch of facial skin is smaller in proportion to the head than the one seen in most larger macaws; the Hahn's macaw and noble macaw can be distinguished by the Hahn's having a black upper mandible and the Noble having a lighter, horn-colored upper mandible.

Their natural vocalizations are more akin to screeches than they are to whistles.[7]


Red-shouldered macaws are very kind natured, their personality is similar to the large macaws.


Noble macaws in Mato Grosso, Brazil
A pair of noble macaws in captivity

The red-shouldered macaw nests in a hole in a tree. There are usually three or four white eggs in a clutch; the female incubates the eggs for about 24 to 26 days, and the chicks fledge from the nest about 54 days after hatching.[8]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Diopsittaca nobilis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Online Book of Parrots - Genus Diopsittaca Archived 29 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Blue Macaws".
  4. ^ Forshaw (2006). plate 73.
  5. ^ "Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Psittaciformes (Version 10.022)". 29 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Taxonomic structure and notes: Family Psittacidae (Parrots)". Handbook of Birds of the World Alive. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Red-shouldered Macaw".
  8. ^ Alderton, David (2003). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Caged and Aviary Birds. London, England: Hermes House. p. 237. ISBN 1-84309-164-X.

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