Extinct: Cuban Macaw, Ara tricolor


From Red Orbit  . . . The image here is by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, a 19th-century Puerto Rican-American ornithologist.

The Cuban Macaw or the Cuban Red Macaw (Ara tricolor) is an extinct species of parrot that was native to Cuba and the Isla de la Juventud, an island off of the coast of west Cuba. At around 18 to 20 inches long it was one of the smaller members of the Ara genus of macaws. It was the last species of macaw that was native to the Caribbean islands to go extinct.

A number of skins are preserved in museums; however, no eggs have survived.

A pair was kept in the royal menagerie at Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria from 1760.

This bird was approximately 18 to 20 inches long. It had a red forehead fading to orange and then to yellow at the nape of the neck, unfeathered areas around the eyes, a dark brown bill paler at the tip, and yellow irises. The face, chest, chin, abdomen, and thighs were orange. The legs were brown and the upper back was brownish red with feathers scalloped with green. The under tail feathers, rump, and lower back were blue. The wing feathers were brown, purplish blue, and red. The upper surface of the tail was dark red fading to blue at the tip, and the under surface of the tail was a brownish red. The adult male and female birds were identical in their external appearance.

In the year 2005, a species of chewing louse was reported from a museum specimen of the Cuban Macaw. It is thought to have been unique to this macaw and is therefore an example of co extinction.

As it was reasonably common around 1800 on Cuba, it most likely also lived on Isla de la Juventud. During the early 19th century, the human population in its home range increased dramatically, resulting in widespread deforestation. The bird was also hunted for food although the meat tasted bad and the nests were plundered or disturbed to acquire young birds as pets. Until 1849, the species appeared to have been able to hold its own at least in the remote areas, but subsequently, the population crashed, never to recover. At least 19 specimens are known to have existed, the last one being shot in 1864 at La Vega in the area of the Zapata Swamp, which appears to have been the last stronghold of the species.

For the original report go to http://www.redorbit.com/education/reference_library/animal_kingdom/aves_birds/1113231965/cuban-macaw-ara-tricolor/#YG1IvGYHbxkd7Tdj.99

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