Indigo Macaw: 19 Facts You Won't Believe!

Discover fascinating indigo macaw facts about its distribution, diet, breeding, habitat, and more!

The indigo macaw (scientific name: Anodorhynchus leari), also commonly known as Lear's macaw, is a blue-colored large parrot. It is one of the most colorful members of the large group of macaws known as neotropical parrots. It ranges between 27.5-29.5 in (70-75 cm) in length and 2.07-2.09 lb (940-950 g) in weight. It has a metallic blue coloration, with a faint green tinge. It also has characteristic yellow skin patches that can be seen at the base of its black bill.

This magnificent macaw was described in 1856 for the first time by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, from an outline by Edward Lear, who was a well-known British writer, poet, and artist. It was in 1978 when this bird was first considered a distinct species. This parrot was not noticed in the wild until Helmut Sick, a naturalist, found a wild population. This bird's range is limited to a small region in Brazil called Bahia. The two known groups of this bird can be found south of the Raso da Catarina, in Serra Branca and Toca Velha. It is a rare bird that has a restricted distribution range. It is a herbivorous bird whose diet comprises fruits, seeds of trees and bushes, maize, agave flowers, berries, vegetable matter, crops, and hard nuts from Licuri palm trees. The breeding season of this colorful bird commences in February and goes on until April. Keep reading to dive deeper into the colorful world of these indigo macaws and get to know fascinating facts about its appearance, breeding, habitat, calls, and more!

If you enjoyed reading our fun facts about the indigo macaws, you must check out our blue-and-yellow macaw surprising facts and great green macaw facts for kids.

Indigo Macaw

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Fruits, seeds of trees and bushes, maize, agave flowers, berries, vegetable matter, crops, and hard nuts from Licuri palms

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1-2 eggs

How much do they weigh?

2.07-2.09 lb (940-950 g)

How long are they?

27.5-29.5 in (70-75 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Greenish-blue, indigo, violet, and pale yellow

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Illegal wildlife trade and reduction in Licuri palm population

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Caatinga (arid thorn forests), outcrops, and sandstone cliffs


Bahia, Brazil





Scientific Name

Anodorhynchus leari





Indigo Macaw Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an indigo macaw?

The indigo macaw, Anodorhynchus leari, is a bird that belongs to the Psittacidae family of parrots. It is named after Edward Lear, a poet, author, and artist, who published numerous paintings and drawings of these parrots. A painting of a parrot in his book 'Illustrations Of The Family Of Psittacidae, Or Parrots' resembled Lear's macaw strongly. However, this image was actually considered to be the hyacinth macaw which is a darker and larger species whose yellow patch at the base of its bill is differently shaped. Lear's macaw is very rare and occurs only in one place in the whole world. It is limited to a small region in Brazil.

What class of animal does an indigo macaw belong to?

The indigo macaw, Anodorhynchus leari, is a species of macaw that belongs to the class of Aves.

How many indigo macaws are there in the world?

The population of these birds is approximately 1,694 individuals. The population of these birds in 1983 was only 60 individuals and in 2010, only 1100-1200 individuals. Research has found that 20.3% of the population is reproductively active and there are 250-999 mature individuals. The Lear’s macaw has been listed as an Endangered (EN) species on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species.

Where does an indigo macaw live?

It is a rare bird that has a limited distribution in the world. This species stayed hidden in the wild for a long time and it was in 1978 when Helmut Sick first found a wild population of this species and this macaw was accepted as a distinct species. It inhabits a small region in Brazil called Bahia. Its two known groups can be found south of the Raso da Catarina, in Serra Branca and Toca Velha. It inhabits arid thorn forests called 'caatinga' and Licuri palm. Breeding of this bird occurs in sandstone cliffs and outcrops.

What is an indigo macaw's habitat?

Lear's macaw is a social bird that is active during the day. It can be spotted perched on palms or other trees' outermost branches. It is a very noisy bird and is known to make loud calls. This bird of Brazil roosts with four birds in a sandstone canyon's hollow or crevice at an altitude of 100-200 ft (30.4-60.9 m). It rests in Licuri palms or shady trees. It is a shy bird that has been observed to croak frequently and preen each other. Lear's macaws call loudly and fly upwards when they feel threatened.

Who do indigo macaws live with?

These birds are very social birds and can be seen forming groups comprising between eight and 30 birds. The Lear's macaw can also be seen in pairs or small groups comprising family members. These birds live in groups but have been observed to be very territorial. When a group flies out to forage for food or to look for a nesting site, a group of males scouts out the upcoming area.

How long does an indigo macaw live?

This bird of Brazil can live for 30-50 years, or more!

How do they reproduce?

Lear's macaws are monogamous birds and breeding pairs mate for life. Their breeding season commences in February and lasts until April. The nests are constructed by both males and females on sandstone cliff faces. Their saliva is applied to the sandstone to soften it, then the small crevasses are excavated with their bills. They also scrape out dust with their feet. Female Lear's macaws lay one to two eggs that go through incubation for 26-28 days. The female will fly out of the nest to eat for only short periods in this time as her chicks are relying on her for warmth and food. After the chicks have developed protective feathers, the female stays away from the nest for a longer duration. Both the male and female roost at night in the nesting site. The young birds that survive two months after fledging stay with the male and female birds for some time after leaving the nest. They become sexually mature at two to four years of age.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of Lear's macaws is Endangered as per the IUCN's Red List for Threatened Species. In 2009, the conservation status of this species was changed from Critically Endangered to Endangered. This was due to the increase in the population in the Serra Branca and Toca Velha roosting areas. As these birds have a restricted range, they face significant threats such as impacts of the illegal wildlife trade, a lack of food (such as the Licuri palm), and habitat loss. Their food source has been significantly reduced due to livestock grazing. The population of Lear's macaws has suffered due to trapping for the aviary trade as well as hunting.

Indigo Macaw Fun Facts

What do indigo macaws look like?

The Lear's macaw is a magnificent blue-colored parrot that ranges between 27.5-29.5 in (70-75 cm) in length. Its neck, underparts, and head are greenish-blue in color, although the head is slightly paler. The rest of this parrot's body is indigo or violet in color. The Lear's macaw has a beautiful long tail. Adjacent to the base of its blackish, large beak, behind the lower mandible, is a characteristic yellow patch. The Lear's macaw has yellow-orange eye-rings and dark gray feet. Lear's macaw resembles the hyacinth macaw that is a little larger. It is also similar in appearance to the glaucous macaw which is slightly smaller. Comparatively, the hyacinth macaw has darker plumage, with patches adjacent to the base of the beak of a different shape, and it lacks a green tinge whereas the glaucous macaw has a grayer head and a paler plumage.

Lear's macaw possesses a beautiful greenish-blue plumage with stunning yellow patches!

How cute are they?

Lear's macaws are extremely beautiful birds that have stunning plumage and cute characteristic patches. They are quite eye-catching and mesmerizing to observe.

How do they communicate?

These macaws communicate with each other vocally and through gestures. The calls of Lear's macaws are similar to the sound of gurgling. Their alarm calls are deep and hoarse. A group comprising two to three males scout out potential feeding and roosting areas at dawn. At dusk, this group will be the first to fly back to the roosting site. They will perch at the tallest tree for 10 minutes to look out for danger. When they are satisfied that there are no signs of danger, they will make loud calls for other birds to join them. If they sense any danger, they produce their signature loud calls to warn the group, which can be heard miles away. This group will also search for a new site to forage where there is no danger.

How big is an indigo macaw?

Its length can range between 27.5-29.5 in (70-75 cm) and its wingspan is more than 3.2 ft (100 cm). The size of an indigo macaw, when compared to that of the hyacinth macaw, is smaller and as compared to the glaucous macaw, it is larger.

How fast can an indigo macaw fly?

Lear's macaw can fly at a speed of 35 mph (56.3 kph) to escape poachers and predators.

How much does an indigo macaw weigh?

The weight of a Lear's macaw bird can range anywhere between 2.07-2.09 lb (940-950 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Like all bird species, males can be referred to as 'cocks', and females can be referred to as 'hens'.

What would you call a baby indigo macaw?

A baby of this species can be called a 'chick'.

What do they eat?

The diet of Lear's macaws comprises fruits, seeds of trees and bushes, maize, agave flowers, berries, vegetable matter, crops, and hard nuts from Licuri palms. They utilize their powerful, big beaks to crack open the nuts' hard shells. A single parrot of this species can consume 350 nuts in a day! They play an essential part in the dispersal of nuts and seeds in their ecosystem. However, the cattle inhabiting their nesting site on the ground, frequently stand on young Licuri palm trees' roots, consequently killing them, which ultimately causes a significant loss of food for indigo macaws. These birds are preyed upon by larger birds and snakes.

Are they dangerous?

These macaws have not proven to be dangerous to humans as they are very shy. Instead, they have been significantly disturbed by human activities.

Would they make a good pet?

Lear's macaws are attractive and cute-looking birds that attract bird lovers all over the world due to their stunning appearance. They are also famous pets as part of the illegal pet trade due to their brilliant characteristics. The price of indigo macaws' cost can shoot up quite high due to their rarity and they can cost anywhere between $2500-3000.

Did you know...

Macaws are playful, curious, and intelligent birds that can mimic human voices excellently!

The mesmerizing hyacinth macaw is the largest parrot of all in the world!

Why is it called Lear's macaw?

Lear's indigo macaw is named after a poet-artist, Edward Lear, who was famous in the 1800s for painting parrots and macaws as well as for creating rhymes.

Why is the indigo macaw endangered?

It is endangered due to the growth of the illegal wildlife trade, a possible scarcity of its main source of food (Licuri palm), and habitat loss. Its population is restricted to a small range, which causes an additional threat to its existence.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our Toco toucan surprising facts and Amazon parrot fun facts pages!

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable great green macaw coloring pages!



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