Our Birds

African Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus

FUN FACT

African Grey Parrots are highly intelligent and are considered by many to be perhaps the most intelligent parrot species. American scientist Irene Pepperberg’s work with “Alex” the African Grey Parrot showed his ability to learn more than 100 words and to differentiate objects, colors, materials, and shapes!

African Grey Parrots, a medium-sized parrot native to the forests of central Africa, are some of the best mimics in the bird world. In the wild, this species often copies the sounds of other animals in the forest. Around people, they may learn to copy a variety of sounds including laughter, a phone ringing, whistling, human speech, and many other sounds. Two African Grey Parrots roosting in Zaire were reported by researchers to have a repertoire of over 200 different sounds, including nine imitations of other wild bird songs and even one of a bat! This species is widely believed the be one of the most intelligent bird species. African Greys can live to be 60 years old. While their charismatic personalities and mimicry make them popular, they can be very challenging to keep as pets. This species is vulnerable to the illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss and destruction.

African Grey Parrot

Psittacus erithacus
Afrotropical

Habitat

Lowland primary and secondary forest, forest edges, forest fragments, and forest clearings, gallery forest, savanna woodland, farms, plantations, and mangroves

Diet

Fruits, seeds, nuts, and leaves

Status

Endangered

Breeding

African Grey Parrots are monogamous and not much is known of their courtship displays in the wild. They make their nests in hollow tree cavities and generally lay between 1 and 4 white eggs. The eggs take approximately 28 days to hatch and the young birds remain with their parents for 4 months or more.

Blue-fronted Amazon Amazona aestiva

FUN FACT

Blue-fronted Amazons display great variation in their colors and markings, including the size of the red and yellow patches on their wings and the amount of blue and yellow on their heads. Each bird is marked differently.

Blue-fronted Amazon parrots are loud, social, and intelligent birds that live in family groups in their native South American habitats. They are cavity nesters, and rely on old-growth forested areas for breeding. Like all parrots, Blue-fronted Amazons have the ability to mimic different sounds in their environment—an ability that varies widely between individual birds. Their social nature makes them popular pets, but they can be difficult to keep as pets. While they are one of the most abundant Amazon parrot species in South America, they are vulnerable to the illegal wildlife trade.

Blue-fronted Amazon

Amazona aestiva
Neotropical

Habitat

Cerrado and Chaco scrub, savanna, palm groves, gallery forest, and subtropical woodland

Diet

Fruit or seeds of a wide variety of plants, including cactus fruit and palm seeds, also flowers of some trees and shrubs

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Blue-fronted Amazons nest in holes high up in trees. They generally lay three eggs, which are incubated for 23-25 days. Their young fledge after about 60 days.

Blue-throated Macaw Ara glaucogularis

FUN FACT

On the face of the Blue-throated Macaw there is a sparsely feathered patch of skin near the base of the bill that has 5-6 horizontal stripes of blue feathers. This feature is unique for every Blue-throated Macaw and can be used to individually identify adults.

The Blue-throated Macaw is identified by its blue throat patch, reddish facial skin, and entirely blue wings. This striking bird is often found alongside a bird similar in appearance with a much wider range: the Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna). The beautiful Blue-throated Macaw is a Critically Endangered species, once thought to be extinct in the wild. In 1992, a small population of 50 Blue-throated Macaws was discovered in a remote part of Bolivia; recent surveys estimate that as many as 300 birds remain. This species’ population numbers declined drastically throughout the 20th century due to trapping for the illegal wildlife trade. Today, the remaining Blue-throated Macaws face loss of habitat, and significant conservation efforts are underway to enlist the help of local Bolivians in the effort to save this species.

Blue-throated Macaw

Ara glaucogularis
Neotropical

Habitat

Seasonally inundated lowland savannas with groves of palms and small slightly raised patches of low tropical forest, sometimes near human habitation

Diet

Mocatú palm (Attalea phalerata), nuts, seeds, and berries

Status

Critically endangered

Breeding

Blue-throated Macaws nest in holes in dead palm trees, live hardwood trees, or human-made nestboxes. They lay 1-3 eggs, which are incubated for 26-28 days. Chicks fledge after about 90 days.

Green-winged Macaw Ara chloropterus

FUN FACT

Green-winged Macaws have very strong beaks that can generate a pressure of 2,000 pounds per square inch!

The Green-winged Macaw (also called the Red-and-green Macaw) is a large parrot, second only to the Hyacinth Macaw in size. This species range is also large, spanning eastern Panama to Paraguay. The Green-winged Macaw’s band of green feathers on its wings and the presence of fine, tiny red feathers on its white face distinguish it from the similar Scarlet Macaw. It has an extremely powerful bill, which it uses to easily crack open hard-shelled nuts like Brazil nuts. Unlike many parrot species, Green-winged Macaws are not great imitators. Although not globally threatened, the Green-winged Macaw is generally uncommon, with pairs frequently solitary and dispersed. This species has a shrinking range, with population declines at the edges of its range.

Green-winged Macaw

Ara chloropterus
Neotropical

Habitat

Humid lowland evergreen forest; visits tropical deciduous forest and gallery woodland in savannas and llanos, and even undisturbed catinga (sparse, dry, stunted forest) vegetation

Diet

Seeds, nuts, pulp, fruits, endosperm, arils, and leaves

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Green-winged Macaws lay 2-3 eggs in cavities, using tree cavities, sandstone cliffs, or excavated cavities in riverbanks.

Hyacinth Macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus

FUN FACT

Hyacinth Macaws sometimes eat clay, which helps them absorb the poison that naturally occurs in some unripe fruits and seeds. These mountains of clay are called “macaw licks.”

The Hyacinth Macaw is a beautiful inhabitant of várzea, savanna, palm-savannas, and similar habitats adjacent to tropical forests in central and eastern South America. These intelligent and social birds are sometimes known as “gentle giants” for their gentle personalities and their large size. They are the largest macaw species, with strong beaks to match: some Hyacinth Macaws have beaks strong enough to crack open a coconut! They are especially adept at opening notoriously tough palm nuts. In response, palm trees have evolved to produce harder and harder nuts, but Hyacinth Macaws are evolving bigger beaks with each generation. Like all parrots, Hyacinth Macaws are great imitators and can mimic human speech. Fewer than 6,500 Hyacinth Macaws remain in the wild, as the species is vulnerable to the illegal pet trade, habitat loss, and hunting.

Hyacinth Macaw

Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus
Neotropical
Adopt-a-Bird

A symbolic Hyacinth Macaw adoption makes a great gift, and helps us care for our flock!

Adopt Today!

Habitat

Palm swamps, dry thorn forests, and the open edges of large rivers

Diet

Nuts and fruit, especially nuts from the regionally endemic acuri and bocaiuva palms

Status

Vulnerable

Breeding

Hyacinth Macaws nest in cavities in large palm trees, and sometimes in cliff faces. They lay 2-3 eggs, but usually only one chick survive. Chicks hatch after a 3-day incubation period and fledge after 110 days. It takes 5-6 years for a young Hyacinth Macaw to reach breeding age.

Meyer’s Parrot Poicephalus meyeri

FUN FACT

The largest populations of this species are found in the famous Okavango Delta region of Botswana.

The Meyer’s Parrot (also called the Brown Parrot), is a species native to tropical Africa, found throughout scrub, savanna, palm grove, and subtropical woodland habitats. This species relies on old-growth areas with large trees, because it nests in the excavated cavities left by woodpeckers. While the Meyer’s Parrot is similar to other parrots in its diet of fruit and seeds, it has also been observed eating the flowers of some trees and shrubs. This parrot is considered an agricultural pest because of the damage it can do to ripening food crops. Meyer’s Parrot populations are stable, given their large population and their wide range.

Meyer’s Parrot

Poicephalus meyeri
Afrotropical

Habitat

Wide range of open woodland and riparian habitats, such as gallery forest, and bushlands near watercourses

Diet

Native fruits of large riverine trees, figs, cultivated oranges, seed pods, and occasionally caterpillars and other insects

Status

Least concern

Breeding

The Meyer’s Parrot commonly uses old woodpecker holes for nesting, laying 2–4 eggs which are incubated for 29-31 day. Young fledge after 60-48 days.

Military Macaw Ara militaris

FUN FACT

Carl Linnaeus, who named the Military Macaw, thought the bird’s bright red forehead and contrasting green plumage bore a resemblance to the dress uniforms of the 18th century Prussian infantrymen known as jägers.

The Military Macaw, a parrot species with a fragmented range running from Mexico to northwest Argentina, is a playful and inquisitive bird. Each Military Macaw has a unique pattern of feathers on its face, similar to a human fingerprint. They also have incredible vision and are able to see colors on the ultraviolet spectrum that humans cannot. They can fly distances of 15 miles each day to feed on a variety of palm nuts, seeds, and figs. Like Hyacinth Macaws, Military Macaws will lick clay to detoxify poisonous substances in their diets. Despite the extensive range of this macaw, their populations are isolated by fragmented habitat, and local losses of populations are likely due to the illegal pet trade. Habitat loss continues to impact populations of the Military Macaw.

Military Macaw

Ara militaris
Neotropical

Habitat

Relatively dry montane evergreen and tropical deciduous forest, gallery woodland and pine-oak formations; seasonally in some places penetrating humid forest, thorn forest and other habitats in lowland areas. Nearby cliffs important for nesting and roosting.

Diet

Palm nuts, figs, various seeds, leaves, and even latex from the stems of certain plants

Status

Vulnerable

Breeding

Military Macaws nest in cavities excavated by woodpeckers, as well as cliffs, for nesting. They lay 2-3 eggs. Nesting trees sometimes contain multiple nesting pairs.

Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus

FUN FACT

Male and female Palm Cockatoos sometimes put on a spectacular drumming display at the nest-hollow, using specially prepared stick or Grevillea glauca nut as a tool. They hold this “drumstick” in their feet and beat it against the hollow tree trunk to produce a fantastic percussive display.

The Palm Cockatoo has the largest bill of any parrot (except for the Hyacinth Macaw), and it uses its powerful bill to eat very hard seeds and nuts that other species can’t access, like palm nuts. They are also among the loudest of all parrots, and communicate by whistling contact calls, stomping noisily on their perches, and drumming loudly against trees with a stick. This drumming display can be used to signify their territory to other Palm Cockatoos, but is also performed at the nest site as a courtship display! Before breeding season begins, a pair of Palm Cockatoos may construct multiple nests. Some are used exclusively for display purposes.

Palm Cockatoo

Probosciger aterrimus
Australasian

Habitat

Rainforest, gallery forest, tall secondary forest, forest edges dense savanna

Diet

Seeds, fruits, nuts (especially palm nuts), berries, and buds from a wide variety of plants

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Pairs nest in hollows high up in the trunk of dead or living trees, lining the hollow with twigs and wood chips. The female incubates a single egg for 30-35 days, and is fed by her mate while she is on the nest. The chick stays in the nest for 100 days and remains with the parents until the next breeding season.

Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus moluccanus

FUN FACT

Although considered a “true parrot” (members of the Psittacoidea superfamily within the order Pisttaciformes), Lorikeets are specially adapted for a diet consisting mostly of nectar and pollen. The tip of a Lorikeet’s tongue has a collection of tiny hair-like structures called papilla that help them excavate pollen and nectar from flowers. This adaptation is why you’ll sometimes hear Lorikeets referred to as “brush-tongued parrots.”

Rainbow Lorikeets couldn’t have a more appropriate name. These small, active parrots are among the most brightly colored in the bird world – as though someone used a whole box of crayons while designing them! Lorikeets are native to Australia and eastern Indonesia, where they live in large, noisy flocks. Nectar from blooming trees such as the eucalyptus, African Tulip-tree and cheesewood is an important food source for lorikeets. As a result, lorikeets are an important pollinator for these and other trees. Lorikeets will also eat figs, apples, and sorghum, and sometimes papaya and mango fruits which have already had their tough skins opened by fruit bats. Because of this, they are sometimes considered a crop pest by farmers with orchards.

The National Aviary is home to two of the many subspecies of Rainbow Lorikeet: the Swainson’s (Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus) and the Edward’s (T. haematodus capistratus). The Swainson’s Rainbow Lorikeet (native to Eastern Australia and Tasmania) is mostly green, but with a deep blue head, a yellowish collar, and a red chest. The Edward’s (native to the Lesser Sunda Islands north of Australia) is almost a faded version of the Swainson’s, with a head gently shaded by blue and a striking yellow front.  In fact, some sources argue for renaming the Edward’s Rainbow Lorikeet the Marigold Lorikeet and making it a separate species.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Trichoglossus moluccanus
Australasian
Adopt-a-Bird

A symbolic Rainbow Lorikeet adoption is a great gift, and helps us care for our flock!

Adopt Today!

Habitat

Lowland wooded country, including primary rainforest, second growth, scrubby monsoon forest, savanna, riparian woodland, mallee, coconut and other plantations, gardens and suburban areas

Diet

Nectar and pollen from flowers, as well as fruits and occasional grains

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Rainbow Lorikeets breed in the spring in Australia, laying 1-3 eggs in a tree hollow. The female alone incubates the eggs for 25 days, and both parents care for the young until they fledge at around eight weeks.

Red-fronted Macaw Ara rubrogenys

FUN FACT

The Red-fronted Macaw is sometimes called the Lafresnaye’s Macaw after the French ornithologist Frédéric de Lafresnaye.

The dazzling Red-fronted Macaw has brilliant green feathers on its body, blue feathers on its wings, and red patches of feathers on its forehead and shoulders that give it its name. This species has a small and limited range in Bolivia in an arid, mountainous habitat. It feeds on cactus, legumes, and seeds. The Red-fronted Macaw is vulnerable to habitat loss as native forests are converted for agricultural use, and it also faces threats from deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade. This species is Critically Endangered, with less than 200 remaining in the wild.

Red-fronted Macaw

Ara rubrogenys
Neotropical

Habitat

Arid mountain scrub, deciduous woodland, and cactus in valleys and gorges

Diet

Legumes, cactus, seeds of a variety of other trees, shrubs, and grasses, some cultivated crops including maize and groundnuts

Status

Critically endangered

Breeding

Red-fronted Macaws nest in fissures in cliffs and in holes in palm trees. Clutches of 1-3 eggs are incubated for 26 days, and young fledge the nest at around 70 days old.

Scarlet Macaw Ara macao

FUN FACT

Scarlet Macaws eat at communal clay licks, which help to neutralize toxins present in many of the foods they eat.

Scarlet Macaws are a striking bird, known for their deep red coloring and white faces. In their tropical evergreen habitats, they can often be seen flying in pairs or in family groups. Their calls can be loud and harsh, and Scarlet Macaws in human care can sometimes mimic human speech. They have powerful beaks and strong feet built for grasping. While not globally threatened, habitat loss and trapping for the illegal wildlife trade are concerns for this species.

Scarlet Macaw

Ara macao
Neotropical
Adopt-a-Bird

A symbolic Scarlet Macaw adoption makes a great gift, and helps us care for our flock!

Adopt Today!

Habitat

Humid lowland evergreen forest and gallery woodland in savannas, often in vicinity of exposed river banks and clearings with big trees

Diet

Vegetarian, eating the fruit, seeds, flowers, nectar, and sap of a great many kinds of rainforest trees; they must also eat clay at communal clay licks in order to neutralize toxins present in many of the foods they eat.

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Scarlet Macaws nest in natural or previously excavated cavities in trees, where the female will incubate a clutch of 1-4 (usually 2) eggs for an average of 28 days. After hatching, both parents feed the chicks 4 to 15 times a day, by regurgitating food for the hatchlings. Chicks fledge from the nest after 14 weeks. but remain with their parents for up to 1 year.

Sun Conure Aratinga solstitialis

FUN FACT

Juvenile Sun Conures are generally duller in color and get brighter with each molt.

The Sun Conure, also called a Sun Parakeet, is a beautiful, distinctive small parrot with bright coloring, native to a small region of northeastern South America. Sun Conures are social and intelligent, noted for their loud calls. Their beauty makes them a highly prized pet, but leaves them extremely vulnerable to the illegal wildlife trade. Habitat loss and trapping for the illegal wildlife trade has driven their numbers down, with fewer than 2,000 still existing in the wild.

Sun Conure

Aratinga solstitialis

Habitat

Open savanna and savanna woodland, forested valleys, seasonally flooded forest, and regenerating forest

Diet

Small fruits, flowers, seeds, and berries

Status

Endangered

Breeding

Sun Conures lay four eggs, which are incubated by the female for 4 weeks. The young fledge about after 8 weeks.

Load more

In The News

See All News

Birdwatching takes flight in Pennsylvania | Keystone Edge

Birdwatching and birding have become wildly popular across PA.

Read More »

Bethel Park woman named National Aviary’s Volunteer of the Year | TribLIVE

Elaine Steffenauer is recognized for her dedication to the National Aviary.

Read More »

10 Things to Do This Week with Kids | Kidsburgh

Pick up a paintbrush and create a masterpiece during Brushes & Birds!

Read More »

Thousands of Birds Fly Over Pittsburgh During Mass Migration | KDKA - CBS Pittsburgh

Ornithologist Bob Mulvihill discusses this annual return of birds from the north to their wintering grounds in the south.

Read More »