Great Green Macaw – in numbers!

Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus): Guacamayo Verde Mayor; Ara de Buffon; Bechsteinara

There are just two species of macaw in Costa Rica, and by the year 2000 one of them, the Great Green Macaw, was considered to be no longer present in the country. Its recovery since then has been nothing less than spectacular, with sightings now being made regularly in most parts of the Caribbean Coast. However, on a recent excursion to a site near the Río Reventazón, just beyond the boundary of our cantón of Turrialba, John, Steven and I were astonished, upon raising our binoculars in the first minutes of the morning, to see a huge fly-by of no less than 17 of these majestic birds. To our further amazement, they were immediately followed by another group of 6 heading in the same direction towards the coast. What a way to begin the day! John barely had time to get his camera out.

First bird species of the day: Great Green Macaws in flight near the Río Reventazón photo by John Beer

Here for comparison purposes is our other macaw, the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), which is a marginally larger bird fairly easily found on the Pacific side of the country. Its beautiful plumage is definitely mostly scarlet red, but just look at the blues and yellows a good close-up can reveal:

Scarlet Macaws at Puerto Pilón; photo by John Beer

Similarly, the following photo of a pair of frisky Great Greens, taken on an earlier occasion at close range, reveals a surprising amount of blue in this equally beautiful parrot:

Mating Great Green Macaws near Siquirres; photo by John beer

Our day had barely begun and we had already been treated to an amazing high count of an endangered species. And more was to come. By the end of the day we managed to tally more than 80 different species, including what were, for me at least, the first migrant warblers of the year, a Cerulean and a Black-and-white Warbler. For the list click on the following link:

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