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One of Costa Rica's Most Beautiful Birds. . the Scarlet Macaw or "Lapas Rojas"!

by William "Skip" Licht 2 years ago in central america · updated 27 days ago
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Poetry in flight. .

On the verge of extinction only 15 years ago, Scarlet Macaws are thriving in Costa Rica. .

Costa Rica boasts of more than 850 species of birds within its borders. Consider for a moment that this number accounts for twice as many species than that of the USA & Canada combined! And this is in a country the size of West Virginia. Costa Rica certainly lives up to its 'biodiversity' label when it comes to the avian population, doesn't it?

Of the over 400 types of parrots, the scarlet macaw is the largest. With a wing span of just over 3 feet and a total length of up to 3 1/2 feet, they sure do make a statement when they fly. Their wings are strong and light. They fly up to 15 miles a day. . each and every day. . to feed and to mate. They can live up to a ripe old age of 80 years in the wild! In free flight, they can reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Another interesting fact is that scarlet macaws keep the same mate for life. "Divorce" is definitely not in their vocabulary!

Many wonder why the scarlet macaw is so colorful. They are native to the Central and South American jungles, where colorful fruits, flowers and berries grow in abundance. In their natural habitat, they are totally camouflaged and very safe from their predators. Larger birds of prey, monkeys, snakes and big jungle cats are some of the macaw's main predators. But, if they can't see 'em, they can't eat 'em! Actually, the main predator of a scarlet macaw is man. The rise of deforestation has seen a devastating decline in the scarlet macaw population in many parts of the world.

Additionally, because these birds are so beautiful, they’re always in danger of poaching and smuggling. Poachers will kill the adult parents for their gorgeous plumage and then smuggle the chicks into an underground market for these lovely animals.

Scarlet macaws mostly eat fruits and seeds, including very large seeds with tough husks. Like other parrots, they are known as "seed predators". When eating seeds, they totally destroy them and do not disperse them like other animals. Some macaws actually eat clay from river banks. Many of the foods eaten by macaws in certain regions of their habitat contain toxic substances which they are able to digest. They have learned to eat clay from exposed river banks to neutralize these toxins. It works well. Thousands of macaws have been seen perched on the side of a hill devouring this clay.

Like most parrots, the female scarlet macaw lays 2 to 4 white eggs in a tree cavity. The young hatch after a period of about 25 days. They fledge about 105 days later and leave their parents a year later. All birds are considered to have fledged when their feathers and wing muscles are sufficiently developed for solo flight. A young bird that has recently fledged but is still dependent upon parental care and feeding is called a "fledgling".

Before the scarlet macaws declined in population, its distribution included much of Costa Rica. However, by the 1960s scarlet macaws had been decreasing in numbers due to a combination of factors, particularly hunting, poaching and the destruction of habitat through deforestation. Further, the spraying of pesticides by companies cultivating and selling bananas for export played a significant role in decreasing their populations.

As pets, scarlet macaws are popular cage birds for those who can pay both the high price of the bird and the price of the big cage required. They are considered sociable and affectionate and some talk quite well. With that said, keeping wild animals as pets in Costa Rica is strictly illegal. However, the truth is that many people do keep these beautiful creatures in cages. Serious jail time can be the consequence of being caught doing so.

In the wild, scarlet macaws are not particularly friendly creatures and they are not aggressive. They keep pretty much to themselves. However, when disturbed, they possess very strong wings and they know how to use them. The scarlet macaw’s first line of defense is to simply fly away. If this isn’t an option. . if they are feeding in a thick brush and can't make a quick getaway, the bird is equipped with a huge, curved beak and long, very sharp talons. The bird will bite and scratch the predator with ruthless savagery and will utilize their enormous wings to bat the offender into total surrender.

Scarlet macaws are indeed thriving in Costa Rica. Recently one afternoon, I was showing a property to a potential buyer. The home was located on top of a large mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the Southern Zone just south of Manuel Antonio. We just finished touring the interior of the home and we came out to enjoy a cold drink and the amazing view. Almost as it was planned. . on perfect cue. . two scarlet macaws flew from left to right and highlighted this beautiful view we had. After a few minutes, in total awe of the moment, my client looked at me and said, "I want to buy now!". .

Mother Nature many times has a way of showing off her power and her vast beauty. She also displayed perfect timing that particular afternoon!

Pura Vida. .

You're invited to visit our websites at: www.costaricagoodnewsreport.com & www.costaricaimmigrationandmovingexperts.com

Also, please enjoy our over 2,000 episodes of our "Costa Rica Minute / Costa Rica Pura Vida Lifestyle Podcast Series". We are found on all major podcast venues, including iHeartRADIO, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Radio FM, Anchor & many more. Here's our link: www.anchor.fm/costa-rica-pura-vida

central america

About the author

William "Skip" Licht

Costa Rica is a magical place. Since November, 2002, when I first visited this country, I have been in love with the people, the culture, its biodiversity, the food. . everything about it makes me happy! Now I share my excitement with you!

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