Do you know all extinct parrots? MACAWS. PART III

May 18th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Do you know all extinct parrots? MACAWS. PART III

Read also the previous article about extinct macaw species:

Do you know all extinct parrots? MACAWS. PART II


7)Martinique Macaw (Ara martinica)

There are two possible scientific names for this hypothetical extinct macaw species – Anodorhynchus martinicus and Ara martinica. Both names were firstly mentioned by Rothschild (firstly in 1905 and later in 1907) but without any explanation which one should be used. That’s why considerable confusion exists concerning the macaw(s) of Martinique. According to available studies, researchers use more frequently the name Ara martinica. Anyway, the existence of this species is poorly documented and is based only on Bouton’s description (1640):

„The macaws are two or three times as large as the other parrots, [and] have a plumage much different in colour: those that I have seen have their plumage blue and orange-yellow (saffron). They also learn to talk and have a good body.“ (translated from French)


Martinique Macaw (Ara martinica)


Wiley and Kirwan mentioned in their study the following statement about possible existence of Anodorhynchus species in West Indies:


„As noted by J. P. Hume (in litt. 2013), that an Anodorhynchus macaw once occurred on the West Indies is, for now, probably best regarded as a figment of Rothschild’s imagination, given that no modern-day Anodorhynchus occurs anywhere near the West Indies, and all of the available evidence suggests that this genus was rare even in historical times making it unlikely that such birds would have arrived in the Antilles via trade. In contrast, several species of Ara macaws occur on the adjacent mainland of South and Middle America.“


In 1936, a Cuban scientist Mario Sanchez y Roig was sure he found a Martinique macaw specimen in a museum. However, after examination by J.T.Zimmer it was determined to be a composite hoax, combining a burrowing parakeet (Cyanoliseus patagonus byroni) with the tail of a dove.


Unidentified parrot supposedly from Jamaica, but may be Ara martinica, copperplate engravings from Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux published between 1735-1750.


8)Dominican Green and Yellow Macaw (Ara atwoodi)

Named by Clark in 1908 and firstly described by Thomas Atwood in 1793. According to his observation, this macaw was considerably bigger than other parrot species living on Dominica – Amazona arausiaca and Amazona imperialis.

Atwood decribed this possibly extinct macaw species as follows:

“The macaw is of the parrot kind, but larger than the common parrot, and makes a more disagreeable, harsh noise. They are in great plenty, as are also parrots in this island; have both of them a delightful green and yellow plumage, with a scarlet-colored fleshy substance from the ears to the root of the bill, of which color is likewise the chief feathers of their wings and tails. They breed on the tops of the highest trees, where they feed on the berries in great numbers together; and are easily discovered by their loud chattering noise, which at a distance resembles human voices. The macaws cannot be taught to articulate words; but the parrots of this country may, by taking pains with them when caught young. The flesh of both is eat, but being very very fat, it wastes in roasting, and eats dry and insipid; for which reason, they are chiefly used to make soup of, which is accounted very nutritive.”


9)St. Croix Macaw (Ara autocthones)

Named by Wetmore in 1937. It represents one of three or four extinct macaw species when we can be quite sure about its existence because of the strong evidence. In this case, several bones have been found on Puerto Rico and St. Croix. Unfortunately, we have no idea about the real appearance and coloration of this species.


10)Guadeloupe Red Macaw (Ara guadeloupensis)

Diego Álvarez Chanca was a part of Columbus’s second voyage in 1493-1494 and described at that time two parrots on Guadeloupe which were very large and different from the parrots he has seen before. These macaws have been named later as Ara quadeloupensis (Clark, 1905) and Anodorhynchus purparescens (Rothschild, 1905). However, Greenway and Snyder suggested that the description of latter species was based on Amazona violacea from Guadeloupe or Anodorhynchus leari imported from Brazil.


A sepia line drawing showing five birds sitting in a tree, a black bird in flight and a tortoise or turtle on the ground underneath.

Guadeloupe Amazon (Amazona violacea) Shown are three Guadeloupe Amazons (above), one Guadeloupe Macaw (middle) as well as several seabirds and a seaturtle. artwork from ‘Histoire generale des Antilles’ by Jean Babtiste du Tetre from the year 1667


Du Tertre gives following description for the Guadeloupe Red Macaw:

„The Arras (Tertre’s name for this species) is a sort of parrot bigger than all the others. This is proved because those of Guadaloupe are larger than all the other Parrots, both those from the Islands as well as from the Mainland ; while this Arras is larger than these by one third. It has the head, the neck, the belly and the back of the colour of fire ; its wings are a mixture of yellow azure, and crimson feathers; while the tail is entirely red and a foot-and-a-half long.”


An illustration of a macaw with red tail feathers, red back and breast feathers, and blue and yellow wing tips. It sits on a tree branch facing right.


11) Montserrat Macaw (undescribed)

Its existence is based on a coracoid found in the Trants archaeological site in Montserrat. As the skeleton size exhibits great individual variation among macaws, it’s possible that this species represents the Guadeloupe Red Macaw.





Atwood, T. (1791): The History of the Island of Dominica. London: Frank Cass and Co.

Rothschild, W. (1907). Extinct birds. Hutchinson & Company.

Wetherbee, D. K. (1985). The extinct Cuban and Hispaniolan macaws (Ara, Psittacidae), and description of a new species, Ara cubensis. Carib. J. Sci, 21, 169-175.

Wiley, J. W., & Kirwan, G. M. (2013). The extinct Macaws of the West Indies with a special reference to Cuban Macaw, Ara tricolor. Bull. BOC 2013 133 (2) 125, 156.


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