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The Green-winged Macaw Ara chloroptera is one of the largest of the Macaw parrots. It is quite beautiful in color and very distinguished in its own right. It is considered to be one of the most docile Macaws and often referred to as the ‘gentle giant’. This pet bird is appreciated for both its coloration and its temperament. It tends to be gentler, quieter, and a more affectionate Macaw than many of its relatives, making it a superb companion and family pet.
This large Macaw has been kept in captivity as far back as the 17th century. In these early times, there was not a lot of emphases placed on breeding. As with most parrots at that time, the Green-winged Macaws were usually kept singly and it was not possible to determine their gender visually. Breeding parrots began in more earnest around the turn of the 19th century and breeding the Green Wing was highly successful. Today this large Macaw is well established in aviculture and readily available as a pet.
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The Green Wing is colored in a rich, deep red from its head down through the upper mantle of the back and wings, the underparts, and the tail. Below the red, running across the middle of its back and wings is a band of green and thus its common name “Green-winged”. The green then yields to a light blue on its rump, the upper and lower tail coverts, and a tip of the tail, and to a dark blue on the wings.
It is second in size only to the Hyacinth Macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus which is the largest Macaw and is itself the second-largest parrot in the world. Both of these Macaws are big birds. The Green Wing averages a length of about 35 1/2″ (90 cm), compared to the Hyacinth at 37″ (95 cm), and a weight of about 2.7 pounds (1.2 kg) compared to about 3.7 lb (1.7 kg).
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The naming of this bird has a rather twisted history, it’s been called a variety of names that reflect both its size and color. Both this Macaw and the Hyacinth Macaw have been referred to as a ‘gentle giant’ because of their large size yet very pleasant personalities. In color, this bird is often confused with the Scarlet Macaw Ara Macao because of the large amount of red in its feathering. However, the Scarlet has a broadband of yellow feathers across the back rather than green ones like this bird has.
Common names were flurried about to depict this bird as well as its red cousin with the yellow band of feathers. This Macaw was referred to as the Green-winged Macaw, Green Wing Macaw, Red, and Green Macaw, Red and Blue Macaw, Crimson Macaw, and Maroon Macaw. At the same time names to depict the smaller Macaw with the yellow band ranged from Red Macaw, Red and Gold Macaw, Red and Yellow Macaw, Red, Yellow, and Blue Macaw, and Scarlet Macaw. It was in 1949, when Dr. Osmond Hill, after careful research of all available materials on these species, suggested that everything is simplified. He suggested that Ara Macao simply be called the “Scarlet Macaw”, and Ara chloroptera simply be called the “Green-winged Macaw”, And these are the two common names primarily used for each of these Macaw species today.
Despite its overall red appearance, the personality of Green-winged Macaws is just about the opposite of the Scarlet Macaw. The Green-winged Macaws are very sweet-tempered birds that are affectionate, inquisitive, and intelligent. They make them a great companion not only for a single person but when well socialized, they are friendly with everyone, even other birds. This is quite the opposite of the brilliant red Scarlet, which can be quite a fiery bird and needs a firm hand.