Cavity use and reproductive success of nesting macaws in lowland forest of southeast Peru Academic Article uri icon


  • Competition for nest sites by sympatric species can lead to resource partitioning among species. We examined the partitioning of cavity resources by Red-and-green Macaws (Ara chloropterus), Blue-and-yellow Macaws (A. ararauna), and Scarlet Macaws (A. macao) in the lowland forest of southeast Peru. Red-and-green Macaws nested primarily in cavities in emergent Dipteryx trees, and Blue-and-yellow Macaws nested predominantly in palm snags. Scarlet Macaws had the broadest nesting niche, and their use of cavities overlapped that of the other two species. These differences in cavity use may be related to differences in size, with Red-and-green Macaws the largest of the three species (90 cm long, 1050-1320 g), followed by Scarlet Macaws (85 cm long, 1060-1123 g) and Blue-and-yellow Macaws (70 cm long, 1086 g). We did not observe interspecific conflicts between Blue-and-yellow Macaws and the other two species. However, Scarlet and Red-and-green macaws frequently compete for cavities, perhaps contributing to the use of a wider range of cavity resources by the smaller, less competitive Scarlet Macaws. For the three macaw species combined, 40 of 84 nests (48%) were successful, fledging either one or two young (mean = 1.4 0.43). The overall reproductive output (including failed nests) was 0.60 0.68 fledglings per nesting pair, with no difference between macaw species (P > 0.18). A lack of alternative nest substrates for large macaws may drive resource partitioning by sympatric species, with specialization on either emergent trees or palm snags, whereas less competitive species like Scarlet Macaws need to be flexible and use a variety of nest sites. 2009 Association of Field Ornithologists.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Field Ornithology

author list (cited authors)

  • Renton, K., & Brightsmith, D. J.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Renton, Katherine||Brightsmith, Donald J

publication date

  • February 2009