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Red-fronted Macaw colony thrives in Andalucia

Parrots magazine 149

Jan Tomlinson talks to Pauline James

The striking and exuberant Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys) is the smallest, and one of the lesser known large macaws in captivity, and almost looks like a combination of the mostly green, but beautifully marked Military or Buffon’s Macaw and a Red-masked Conure. The wing-colouring and voice is more conure-like, but the facial feathering and black beak is definitely that of a macaw!

But, these delightful birds with their giant-sized helpings of personality and extraordinary charisma are in danger of being lost forever, unless their fortunes can be rapidly turned around in the wild, and a viable population built-up in captivity. On the plus side, many of the major parrot collections worldwide now keep the Red-fronted Macaw, and over the last few years, have been reporting good breeding results.

But, in central Bolivia, the natural habitat of the Red-fronted Macaw is the most restricted range of all the macaws left in the wild, and since 1983 this species has been listed on CITES Appendix I, as ‘Endangered.’ But the good news is that an important nesting site and 124 acres of crucial Red-fronted Macaw habitat was purchased in 2008 by Asociación Armonía, and is now being vigorously protected, as they work tirelessly to save this species - now down to 800-1,000 individuals - from extinction.

So, due to their short supply, and their dire situation in the wild, the Red-front tends to be mainly in the hands of experienced and specialist breeders who are striving to create sustainable, genetically-diverse captive flocks. And Jan, originally from the UK, but now living in Andalucia, Spain, is one such breeder, and has kept Red-fronted Macaws for many years. Her oldest pairing is now 24 years old and have been breeding for 18 years, although they are down to just one clutch per year now.

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