The Scarlet Macaw is the most widely distributed (Mexico to Brazil) of the 17 existing macaw species (Wiedenfeld 1994). Two subspecies have been identified, Ara macao cyanoptera (ranges from southern Mexico to southeast Nicaragua) and A. macao macao (ranges from extreme south of Nicaragua to Brazil and Bolivia) (Schmidt 2008). Scarlet Macaws are endangered due to habitat modification and the pet trade (Inigo-Elías 1996, Wright et al. 2001, Vaughan 2002) thus included in Appendix I of CITES since 1983. The species shows a slow life history, living between 40 – 50 years in the wild, reaching sexual maturity at 4 – 8 years, low annual reproductive rate (Iñigo_Elías 1996), high annual adult survival (Brightsmith 2005) and high parental post-fledging care of up to a year (Myers & Vaughan 2004). As long lived species; highly disturbed populations persist, shading the effect of habitat destruction and decrease recruitment for years (Marsden & Pilgrim 2003). The effects are observed as a slow population decline, followed by a population crash as aged individuals have greater mortality rates.
The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao cyanoptera), representing Belize’s largest parrot species, is locally endangered due to poaching and listed in the Wildlife Protection Act as a species of conservation concern. Wild population estimates are round 200 individuals for Belize (Matola & Sho 2002). In Belize, the Chiquibul Forest is the key foraging and breeding habitat for the species. The Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) and Scarlet 6 (Roni Martinez and Charles Britt Group) have systematically documented Scarlet Macaw breeding activities and poaching during the past five and three years respectively. Bio-Monitoring efforts along the Macal and Raspaculo River banks have identified poaching as the mayor threat to the survival of the species in Belize.
The objectives of this report are to: (i) present the findings of the 2014 Scarlet Macaw breeding season; (ii) summarize illegal activities recorded along the breeding ground of the Scarlet Macaw; and (iii) summarize the feeding ecology and behavior of adult Scarlet Macaws based on opportunistic observations.