At the zoo: Inside Bird World
In the wild: humid and lowland forest through north and central South America
At the zoo: fruit, vegetables, nuts and specially formulated bird food
In the wild: fruit and nuts
Green-winged macaws live in small groups and pairs.
Meet Gulliver a female green-wing macaw sometimes called green-winged or red and green or even Ara chloopterus. Gulliver is a member of the parrot family. Her species is the second largest macaw. Gulliver is often mistaken for a scarlet macaw due to her mostly red feathers, but you can easily tell the difference due to the green feathers on the wing and the red feather stripes near her eyes on otherwise bare white skin.
Green-wing macaws live in northern South America and have a fairly broad range but there has been a decrease in population size recently as human population growth and habitat destruction puts pressure on macaw habitat of tropical forests, mangrove swamps and savannas. They are important for forest regrowth since they are messy eaters dropping seeds and nuts as well as their own droppings on the forest floor. They flock to mountains of clay called “macaw licks” that they use it to supplement their diets with minerals and salts. It can also neutralize some of the toxins in certain things they eat. Unfortunately, they are also captured for the illegal pet trade. The U.S. Wild Bird Act forbids the commercial import of any bird listed by CITES which includes most parrot species.
Gulliver’s exact age is unknown since she was a donation in 2000 from the Rainforest Café when they closed in Denver. She has a strong relationship with her keepers as well as her best friend Spirit, a blue and gold macaw, who arrived in the same donation. One of her most noticeable features is her strongly hooked beak designed for opening the toughest of nuts and seeds. That beak packs 2000 psi and can snap a broomstick in half. Which is why her keepers have a healthy respect for her boundaries and encourage her to use her beak for constructive things such as Brazil nuts (one of her favorites) and an assortment of destructible toys for her to play with. Macaws tend to bond with either a person or another bird so approaching one without the owner, or in this case, keeper, is not advised.
Green-wing macaws, like Gulliver, are very inquisitive and enjoy tearing things apart with their beaks and making a general mess. Gulliver receives a lot of enrichment at the zoo to keep her brain and body active, as she is a very intelligent, energetic bird. Gulliver gets a complete diet made up of parrot pellets, fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts. She is also zygodactylous which means 2 of her toes face forward and the other 2 backwards. She uses her powerful beak as another limb when she is climbing around on her perches. In the wild, they do not mimic other birds but when they are around humans constantly they can pick up some mimicked words although they are not known for being good at it. Gulliver has some things she occasionally says but the keepers focus her training on things that are best for her care. She can hold out her wings or hold up her feet for a visual inspection. She is trained to let her keepers trim her toenails and apply moisturizing cream to her feet.
Most people are mesmerized by how beautiful and intelligent macaws are and they might want to have one as a pet. Consider this choice carefully and do lots of research to see if they would make the right pet for you before making this decision. If you decide you are up to the commitment of owning a macaw then please make sure to get one from a reputable breeder or owner.
For the right pet owner, parrots can be a very rewarding commitment with their inquisitive nature, intelligence and personalities. If you would rather visit Denver Zoo’s resident macaws stop by the Rainforest room of Bird World to see Gulliver and Spirit. They are usually out until closing time at Bird World, but tends Gulliver to get very vocal at the end of the day when she wants to go to her nighttime home behind-the-scenes.