This species has a very small and declining population. Conservative estimates of numbers suggest that all subpopulations are extremely small. It therefore qualifies as Endangered.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline.html.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Distribution and populationAra rubrogenys
55-60 cm. Medium-sized, tricoloured macaw. Largely bright green. Orange-red forehead to mid-crown and small auricular patch. Large shoulder patch and mottled thigh coloration as crown. Pale blue primaries. Narrow ring of pale pinkish bare skin around eye. Large black bill. Similar spp. Military Macaw A. militaris occurs in different habitats, is larger and has no red on wing. Voice Rather musical and high-pitched growls and harsher squeaks.
is endemic to a small area on the east Andean slope of south-central Bolivia
, from south Cochabamba and west Santa Cruz through north Chuquisaca to north-east Potosí. It is principally found in the valley systems of the ríos Grande, Mizque, Caine and Pilcomayo. It is locally common but declining, with the population variously estimated at 2,000-4,000 individuals in 1991-1992 (Pitter and Christiansen 1995), or as few as 1,000 in 1991 (Clarke and Duran Patiño 1991). In the Caine valley (Cochabamba and Potosí) 40-100 indivuduals were considered resident and secure in 1989-1992, but only one was seen during five days fieldwork in 1995 (Pitter and Christiansen 1995,
Herzog et al.
1997). Conservative estimates in 2007 indicated there were fewer than 500 breeding pairs, although not all nesting colonies had been found, and there were additional non-breeding adults in any given year (S. K. Herzog in litt.
2007). A survey conducted in 2011 (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012) attempted to cover the entire range of the species, locating 34-35 occupied nesting sites in cliffs, of which 16 were previously unknown, as well as a small population breeding in palms (Rojas et al
. 2012). The survey counted 130 pairs, of which 67-86 were breeding and the rest probably did not attempt to breed (immature pairs). Non-breeding individuals were aggregated in 7 localities during the breeding season and consisted of 545 individuals, giving a total population (including pairs) of 805 individuals (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). This survey also showed that 5 out of 28 (18%) of breeding locations known from the previous 5 years were unoccupied in 2011 (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-4,000 individuals, roughly equating to 670-2,700 mature individuals.Trend justification
A moderate and ongoing population decline is suspected owing to continued illegal trade, compounded by habitat loss and persecution as a crop pest.Ecology
Its original natural habitat is inter-Andean dry forest, but this has been degraded to thorn and cactus scrub by centuries (if not millennia) of human activity (S. K. Herzog in litt.
2007) and it now inhabits subtropical, xerophytic thorny scrub with many cacti and scattered trees at 1,100-2,700 m, dispersing locally to 3,000 m. It nests and on undisturbed, steep-sided river cliffs, with a small population breeding in palms (Rojas et al.
2012). Its diet includes seeds and fruit, but natural food sources are often scarce and birds feed extensively on crops, particularly groundnuts and unripe maize (Kyle 2005). Egg-laying takes place in February and March, with pairs fledging one, two or occasionally three offspring annually (Juniper and Parr 1998, S. K. Herzog in litt.
2007, A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). Adults and their young remain on the breeding grounds until May, after which they congregate in a few large flocks in agricultural areas and roost communally in large trees (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
Its original natural habitat is inter-Andean dry forest but this has been degraded to thorn and cactus scrub by centuries (if not millennia) of highly unsustainable human activities, nowadays mainly overgrazing by goats, firewood cutting and charcoal production (S. K. Herzog in litt.
2007). An estimated 40% of natural vegetation in valleys within its range had been converted to agriculture by 1991, with other areas degraded by intense grazing. Several important food trees are harvested for fuel and charcoal. As food plants are lost, agricultural land is used more, thereby increasing the species's exposure to persecution as a crop-pest, and the use of firearms for pest control has been recorded (Brace et al.
1995). Macaws are also potentially threatened by pesticides applied to crops where macaws forage mostly during the non-breeding season (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). Illegal trapping continues, but has been reduced as a result of legal protection (Pitter and Christiansen 1995, Juniper and Parr 1998, Herrera and Hennessey 2007, A. Rojas in litt.
2007). The majority of the Bolivian parrot trade is domestic but more valuable threatened species end up in Peru or further afield. 26 Red-fronted Macaws were recorded passing through the Los Pozos pet market, Santa Cruz between August 2004-July 2005, and there are four other wildlife markets in the city and others in Cochabamba, suggesting this figure may only represent a small proportion of birds illegally trafficked in the country (Herrera and Hennessey 2007). In 2011, 45 red-fronted macaws were recorded in houses; some had been taken from nests as nestlings, but most of them were trapped when foraging in crops. Most were kept as pets but some were to sell to in major cities (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). The two main threats appear to be nest-poaching and trapping for local pet supply, and persecution as crop pests, and possibly contamination by pesticides applied to crops (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. It is considered nationally Critically Endangered in Bolivia (Rojas et al
. 2009). Its capture, transport and export is prohibited under Bolivian law (Fuller and Gaski 1987), although this is not effectively enforced (Herrera and Hennessey 2007). In 1992, 5,000 posters urging the protection of macaws and their habitat were made and apparently well received throughout the region. Non-breeding birds occur in the southern edge of Amboro National Park (S. K. Herzog in litt.
2007, A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). Two municipal protected areas have been created at Pasorapa (1796 km2
) and Mollepampa-Lagarpampa (303 km2
) (J. Cahill in litt
. 2012). Armonía has a long-term conservation project on the Rio Mizque working with three subsistence farming communities to protect a breeding cliff with 11-13 active nests (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). An ecotourism lodge was inaugurated here in 2006 with proceeds going to the local communities, and it is planned to establish a protected area at this site (S. K. Herzog in litt.
2007). There are significant numbers of the species at the Santa Cruz Zoo in Bolivia and at zoos and in private holdings outside Bolivia (J. D. Gilardi in litt. 2012), but no formal management plan for these birds.Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue surveying and monitoring (Clarke and Duran Patiño 1991,
Snyder et al.
2000). Fence key patches of gallery forest to limit cattle-grazing and permit vegetation to regenerate (Snyder et al.
2000). Effectively enforce trade laws (Herrera and Hennessey 2007). Organise awareness campaigns (Clarke and Duran Patiño 1991). Identify suitable sites for protected areas throughout the species' range (Kyle 2005, A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). Establish education programs to reduce nest-poaching and trapping. Assess the costs of compensating crop damage to avoid persecution of macaws in agricultural areas, and investigate alternatives to resolve the conflict between agriculture and macaw conservation as the main threat for the species (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
2012). Create a management plan for captive birds in ex-situ conservation, involving Bolivia and foreign countries, and incorporate pets and illegally traded birds into this programme (J. D. Gilardi in litt.
2012, A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt.
Related state of the world's birds case studies
Brace, R. C.; Hesse, A. J.; White, A. G. 1995. The endemic macaws of Bolivia. Cotinga: 27-30.
Clarke, R. O. S.; Duran Patiño, E. 1991. The Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys) in Bolivia: distribution, abundance, biology and conservation.
Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.
Fuller, K. S.; Gaski, A. 1987. Update to Latin American wildlife trade laws. World Wildlife Fund, Washington, DC.
Herrera, M.; Hennessey, A. B. 2007. Quantifying the illegal parrot trade in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, with emphasis on threatened species. Bird Conservation International 17: 295-300.
Herzog, S. K.; Kessler, M.; Maijer, S.; Hohnwald, S. 1997. Distributional notes on birds of Andean dry forests in Bolivia. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 117: 223-235.
Juniper, T.; Parr, M. 1998. Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.
Kyle, T. 2005. Mountain macaws: an expedition to survey the breeding cliffs of Bolivia's Red-fronts. PsittaScene 17: 4-5.
Pitter, E.; Christiansen, M. B. 1995. Ecology, status and conservation of the Red-fronted Macaw Ara rubrogenys. Bird Conservation International 5: 61-78.
Rojas, A,; Zeballos, A.; Rocha, E.; Balderrama, J. A. 2009. Ara rubrogenys, Lafresnaye 1847. In: Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Agua (ed.), Libro rojo de la fauna silvestre de vertebrados de Bolivia, pp. 332-334. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Agua, La Paz, Bolivia.
Rojas, A.; Yucra, E.; Vera, I.; Requejo; A.; Tella, J. L. 2012. A new population of the globally endangered red-fronted macaw Ara rubrogenys unusually breeding in palms. . Bird Conservaton International.
Snyder, N.; McGowan, P.; Gilardi, J.; Grajal, A. 2000. Parrots: status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.
Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomo
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A.
Herzog, S., Rojas, A., Gilardi, J., Hiraldo, F., Tella, J., Cahill, J.
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Ara rubrogenys. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 18/04/2014.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 18/04/2014.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
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Additional resources for this species