The Scarlet Macaw is the most widely distributed (Mexico to Brazil) of the 17 existing macaw species (Wiedenfeld 1994). Presently two subspecies have been identified being 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 throughout their range, due to habitat modification and the pet trade (Inigo-Elías 1996, Wright et al. 2001, Vaughan 2002) and has been included in Appendix I of CITES since 1983. The species typically 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). Being a long lived species; highly disturbed scarlet macaw populations are able to persist, shading the effect of habitat destruction and decrease recruitment for years (Marsden & Pilgrim 2003). This effect may be observed as a slow decline in population, followed by a drastic population crash as individuals of the populations become old leading to high mortality rates.
The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao cyanoptera), the largest parrot species in Belize, is locally endangered due to poaching and listed as a species of high conservation concern in the Wildlife Protection Act of Belize. Scarlet Macaw population estimates in Belize suggest that there are round 200 individuals in the wild (Matola & Sho 2002). In Belize, the Chiquibul Forest serves as a key foraging and breeding habitat for the species. Over the past 5 years Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) and in the latter three years Scarlet 6 (Roni Martinez and Charles Britt Group) has been systematically documenting Scarlet Macaw breeding activities as well as poaching of the same. Efforts have been concentrated along the banks of the Macal and Raspaculo Rivers (main breeding grounds) and results have indicated that poaching is a severe threat to the survival of the Scarlet Macaw population in Belize.
The objectives of this report are to: (i) present the findings of the 2013 Scarlet Macaw breeding season; (ii) summarize illegal activities recorded along the breeding ground of the Scarlet Macaw; (iii) identify Scarlet Macaw nest poaching vulnerability hot spots, and (iv) summarize the feeding ecology and behavior of adult Scarlet Macaws based on opportunistic observations.