/meuh kaw"/, n.
any of various large, long-tailed parrots, chiefly of the genus Ara, of tropical and subtropical America, noted for their brilliant plumage and harsh voice.
[1660-70; < Pg macao, macau < Tupi mak'o]

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Any of about 18 species of large tropical New World parrots (subfamily Psittacinae) with very long tails and big sickle-shaped beaks.

Macaws eat fruits and nuts. They are easily tamed and often kept as pets; some learn to mimic human speech, but most only screech. A few have lived 65 years. Best known is the scarlet macaw (Ara macao), found from Mexico to Brazil, a 36-in. (90-cm) bright-red bird with blue and yellow wings, blue and red tail, and white face.

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  common name of about 18 species of large colourful parrots (parrot) native to tropical America. These brightly coloured, long-tailed birds are some of the most spectacular parrots in the world. The sexes look alike, which is uncommon among vividly coloured birds. The cobalt-blue hyacinthine macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) of Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay is the largest of all parrots, measuring 95–100 cm (37.5–39.5 inches) long. The scarlet macaw (Ara macao) is probably the best known of New World parrots. Its brilliant red, yellow, and blue plumage contrasts with a bare white face that may blush when the bird is excited. Flying with distinctive slow wing beats and long tails trailing, scarlet macaws are most often seen flying to and from roosting and feeding sites in pairs, family groups, or flocks. These gregarious birds can often be heard calling in flight, emitting loud metallic screeches.

 With their large sickle-shaped beaks, macaws can crack open hard-shelled seeds and nuts, dislodging the nutmeat with blunt, muscular tongues. The beak also serves as a third foot as they climb about in trees searching for seeds as well as fruits, flowers, and leaves. One species, the blue-and-yellow macaw (Ara ararauna), has been recorded eating at least 20 species of plants, including many toxic to humans. In Manu National Park in Peru, five macaw species converge by the hundreds at mineral-rich riverbanks to eat the clay there, which may help them detoxify compounds in their diet. Macaws nest in tree hollows; hyacinthine macaws sometimes nest in riverbank holes.

      Macaws are easily tamed and some can mimic sounds. Although the parrots continue to shriek noisily, gnaw, and occasionally bite with their powerful beaks, many local people keep them as pets. They are also exported, often illegally, to supply the worldwide pet trade. This practice, along with land clearing and logging, has contributed to many macaws' (as well as other parrots') increasing rarity in the wild. A few macaws have survived to 65 years in captivity. Macaws belong to the parrot family, Psittacidae.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Macaw — Ma*caw , n. [From the native name in the Antilles.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any parrot of the genus {Ara}, {Sittace}, or {Macrocercus}. About eighteen species are known, all of them found in Central and South America. They are large and have a very long tail …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • macaw — (n.) species of large, long tailed birds, 1660s, from Port. macau, from a word in a Brazilian language, perhaps Tupi macavuana, which may be the name of a type of palm tree the fruit of which the birds eat …   Etymology dictionary

  • macaw — ► NOUN ▪ a large long tailed parrot with brightly coloured plumage, native to Central and South America. ORIGIN Portuguese macau …   English terms dictionary

  • macaw — [mə kô′] n. [Port macao, prob. < Brazilian (Tupí) native name] any of a group of large, bright colored, long tailed, harsh voiced parrots (esp. genus Ara) of Central and South America …   English World dictionary

  • Macaw — Not to be confused with Macau. Not to be confused with Macaque. This article is about the bird. For other uses, see Macaw (disambiguation). Macaw A Hyac …   Wikipedia

  • macaw — UK [məˈkɔː] / US [məˈkɔ] noun [countable] Word forms macaw : singular macaw plural macaws a South American bird with a long tail and brightly coloured feathers …   English dictionary

  • macaw — tikrosios aros statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Ara angl. macaw vok. Eigentlicher Arara, m rus. ара, m pranc. ara, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – aros siauresnis terminas – ekvadorinė ara siauresnis terminas – geltonkrūtė… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • macaw — noun Etymology: Portuguese (now obsolete) macao Date: 1625 any of numerous parrots (especially genus Ara) of South and Central America including some of the largest and showiest of parrots …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • macaw — noun /məˈkɔː,məˈkɑː,məˈkɔː/ Any of various parrots of the genera Ara and Anodorhynchus of Central and South America, including the largest parrots and characterized by long sabre shaped tails, curved powerful bills, and usually brilliant plumage …   Wiktionary

  • macaw — ma|caw [məˈko: US ˈko:] n [Date: 1600 1700; : Portuguese; Origin: macau] a large brightly coloured bird like a ↑parrot, with a long tail …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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