Scarlet Macaws: National Bird of Honduras

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: December 14, 2022
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Honduras has some of the most diverse rainforests in Central America with wildlife ranging from jaguars and pumas to monkeys and wild pigs. There is a wide range of bird species including the large-billed toucans, tiny flittering hummingbirds, and colorful resplendent quetzals. So how did the people of Honduras chose a national bird? Read on to find out about the national bird of Honduras!

What is the National Bird of Honduras?

Colored exotic Scarlet Macaw parrot sits on a branch in the tropical forest
Their bodies are mostly red with yellow and bright royal blue.

©Daria Photostock/

The national bird of Honduras is the scarlet macaw. In Honduras, it is called guacamaya roja, or just guacamaya. The scarlet macaw, with its primary colored feathers, is one of the largest parrots in the world. Their bodies are mostly red with a band of yellow and bright royal blue wings and tail feathers. Scarlet macaws have a white face and hooked black beak.

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How did Honduras Choose their National Bird?

The National Congress of Honduras chose the scarlet macaw as the national bird on June 28, 1993. This was their way of promoting the beautiful macaw and recognizing its place in Honduran history. Now residents honor the bird every year on June 28, as Hondurans celebrate Scarlet Macaw Day.

Are Scarlet Macaws Pets?

Scarlet macaws are a popular pet for bird enthusiasts. They can make incredible pets with their charming impersonations and human-like head movements. Unfortunately, the illegal pet trade has threatened the population over the years. Poachers steal eggs and chicks and smuggle them into other countries. While there may always be a debate over keeping parrots as pets, it is legal in most places. Be sure to follow your country’s laws on importing exotic pets and/or only purchase from in-country reputable breeders.

Can Scarlet Macaws Really Talk?

Like other parrots, scarlet macaws can mimic human words and phrases. Irene Pepperberg, a research associate at Harvard, trained her own African grey parrot to name 50 objects. The bird also learned seven colors and six shapes and had a vocabulary of around 100 words! Owners will often share stories of words their parrot creates to describe something new, like “yummy bread” for Birthday cake. Based on these stories, it appears they are not just mimicking humans but capable of learning language skills.

How Big are Scarlet Macaws?

It is difficult to understand the magnitude of the scarlet macaw without knowing how big these birds are. They are not a small parakeet in a hanging cage in your kitchen window. Scarlet macaws are big birds! From their head to the end of their tail, they are around 30-35 inches long; that is nearly 3 feet. The wingspan of a scarlet macaw is 3-3 ½ feet wide. The Honduran people experience groups of these large birds flying overhead on a regular basis.

What is Macaw Mountain?

Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Preserve is in Copán Ruinas, Honduras. If you are visiting Honduras and want to see a scarlet macaw, then it is well worth your time. Lloyd Davidson, nicknamed “Bird Man of Roatan,” started the park. He has cared for macaws for decades and is on a mission to educate others about these beautiful birds. His original goal was to care for unwanted captive macaws and parrots, but it evolved into something more. Lloyd started with 35 birds, but this group soon grew to 90! Lloyd later moved the birds to Copán Ruinas, where Macaw Mountain is located today.

How were Scarlet Macaws Saved from going Extinct?

In 2010, Dr. Jamie Gilardi made a visit to Macaw Mountain and expressed his interest in a partnership with Davidson. He wanted to rehabilitate the macaws and reintroduce them into the wild. He also wanted to educate the people of Honduras about the importance of stopping poachers. Dr. Gilardi worked with Davidson to reintroduce a flock of macaws to the Copán Archaeological Park. An educational aspect of the group started as well, by partnering with Asociación Copán to work with teachers. They brought the birds into the schools to show students how amazing macaws truly are. The group encouraged people to leave scarlet macaws wild and not to take them in as pets. The project was a success, and the population of scarlet macaws began increasing in numbers.

Are Scarlet Macaws Endangered Today?

According to the IUCN, the scarlet macaw is an animal of “Least Concern” as of August 2022. However, there are coastal areas in Honduras where scarlet macaws used to live but are now devoid of the species. Their range extends into northern South America, with healthy populations in Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Peru and Ecuador. However, Hondurans still need to take care to preserve their beautiful national bird.

What is the National Animal of Honduras?

While the flashy scarlet macaw may draw lots of attention, the national animal of Honduras is highly respected as well. The Yucatan white-tail deer is the national animal of Honduras. It looks remarkably similar to the white-tail deer in North America, but it is a bit smaller. Adults average 3 feet tall and 4 ½ feet long.

What other Animals Live in Honduras?

Two beautiful Baby Scarlet Macaws in the nest.
Snakes are predators of the scarlet macaw; they prey on chicks if left unattended.


Other animals that live in Honduras include the jaguar, which is “Near Threatened.” Jaguars inhabit the eastern half of Honduras and are a natural predator of the scarlet macaw. Pumas, ocelots, and margays are jungle cats that are native to Honduras. They live in the Pico Bonito National Park, another park well worth visiting.

Crocodiles and caimen both reside in Honduras, so keep an eye out while walking near wetlands or open ponds. The humid rainforests are the perfect habitat for snakes as well, and some of them are highly poisonous. The highly venomous Fer-de-Lance lives in Honduras, as well as the yellow-bellied sea snake. The 5-foot Honduran milk snake also lives in Honduras, but this intimidating snake is nonvenomous. Snakes are also predators of the scarlet macaw; they prey on the eggs and the chicks if left unattended.

Are there any Scarlet Macaws in the United States?

Wild scarlet macaws are not in the United States, but people keep them as pets. Several popular zoos like the Indianapolis Zoo and the Buffalo Zoo in New York have this colorful bird on display. It is easy to understand why this spectacular bird was chosen to represent the beautiful country of Honduras.

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Red Animals - Scarlet Macaw
Scarlet Macaws are curious, strong-willed, and highly trainable. It is one of the most intelligent bird species in the world and is able to mimic words and sounds and learn tricks in captivity.

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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