Severe macaw

Ara severa

At the Zoo

The Severe macaws can be found in the Zoo's free-flighted South American Tropical Rainforest and Aviary.

Fascinating Facts

Physical Characteristics

The severe macaw, also known as the “chestnut-fronted macaw,” is mostly green with dark, chestnut patches on their foreheads and under their beaks. They have blue feathers on the crown of their head with patches of red and blue on the wings, and their tail feathers are brownish-red with blue tips. The beak is grey-black and they exhibit the classic bare macaw facial patch with fine, dark feather lines circling the eyes with orange irises. Immature severe macaws will have blacker colored bands on the foreheads, as the chestnut color develops with maturity.


Severe macaws are found in northern South America from Panama south to Amazonian Brazil and northern Bolivia. They live in open forests, woodlands, savannahs, and at the edges of rainforests. They are arboreal, diurnal, and herbivorous, feeding on seeds, fruits, and flowers.

Social Behavior

These mini-macaws are often hard to spot as they are usually roosting quietly in the canopy in pairs or small parties, not flocks, often between the fronds of palm trees. However, they will occasionally be seen in groups with red-bellied macaws or orange-winged amazons. In the wild, their typically gregarious personality can become more aggressive at puberty giving them the name “severe.” Their loud raucous calls sound like that of a braying donkey.

Status In The Wild

Least Concern – IUCN 2012

Severe macaws are not currently threatened, but populations are being monitored closely to prevent any decline in numbers due to deforestation or illegal collection for the pet trade.

Animals & Exhibits