Macaws: The Book

Objectives of the Lesson
Background Information
Materials Needed
Evaluation/Alternative Assessment
Web Resources

Objectives of the Lesson:

Students will:

  1. Research the different species of Macaw found in Manu and other parts of the Amazon.
  2. Write a children's book with drawings about Macaws.
  3. Identify the different species of Macaw found in Manu and other parts of the Amazon Basin.
  4. (Optional Secondary Activity) Identify the reasons for decreasing populations of Macaws in the wild.

Background Information:

Two prevalent species of Macaw found in Manu are the Scarlet Macaw and Blue and Yellow Macaw. They travel in flocks eat fruits, nuts and seeds. Often Macaws carry the seeds in their stomach and distribute them through the jungle to spread new species in new areas. Macaws also eat clay in Manu which is believed to be an anti-toxin or neutralizer for the poisons found in some of the seeds they eat.

There are several species of Macaw found in the Amazon. Some of these are the Blue and Yellow Macaw (Ara arrauna), Red and Green Macaw (Ara chloroptera), Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), and Military Macaw (Ara militaris).

There are a number of other less common Macaws that can be researched by secondary students should the instructor wish to travel in this direction. These are the Caninde Macaw (Ara Glaucogularis), the Great Green Macaw (Ara ambigua), Yellow-naped Macaw, (Ara auricollis), Lafresnaye's Macaw (Ara rubrogenys), Red Bellied Macaw (Ara manilata) and others. Scientific names are provided solely to make research on the world wide web easier. (Sweeney, Roger G., Macaws, Barrons Educational Series, Inc. 1992.)

Blue and Yellow Macaw The Blue and Yellow Macaw is a few inches short of a yard in length. It is quite distinctive with the bright yellow breast and bright blue back. It is found throughout the Amazon Basin from Panama to Bolivia. The Blue and Yellow Macaw is the one most frequently seen in captivity. It is seen on television and in the movies. Blue and Yellow Macaws are bred in captivity and this has saved a number of the wild species from the pet trade.

Scarlet Macaw The Scarlet Macaw is slightly smaller than the Green-Winged Macaw. It is a few inches short of one yard in length. It is found all over the Amazon Basin in low lying areas. It can be found as far north as southern Mexico, Central America and Bolivia. The Scarlet Macaw has been a victim of the pet trade more than other Macaws.

Red and Green Macaw This is one of the largest Macaws found in the Amazon. It is about one yard in length. This Macaw if found mostly in northern South America from Panama to Paraguay. It is usually found in low lying areas of rainforest and is seen in many parts of the Amazon.

Military Macaw The Military Macaw is one of the smaller members of the species at a few inches over two feet long. The Military Macaw has three subspecies. One species is found in Mexico, another in Venezuela and Peru, and the third in Bolivia and Argentina. The Military Macaw can also be found in areas of higher altitude unlike other members of the species. It is not necessarily a rainforest bird. (Sweeney, Roger G., Macaws, Barrons Educational Series, Inc. 1992.)

Materials Needed:
(Students will work individually so that each will have a Macaw Book for a final project. They should gather information in teams of 3-4 students.)

  • A copy of the PBS program, The Living Edens: "Manu, Peru's Hidden Rain Forest" (Air date November 12, 1997 on PBS. If you missed this program, you can order the video.)
  • Paper for each page of a book on Macaws. Individuals choose size of paper and dimensions of book. (Pre-bound books are available at most book stores)
  • Colored pens/pencils/markers
  • Downloaded images of Macaws from this site: Image 1, Image 2, and Image 3.
  • Binding material (Various tape, yarn, string, etc.)
  • Rubber cement or school glue
    Caution: Be careful of rubber cement fumes
  • Wildlife magazines for photos of Macaws
  • Optional stapler for binding if needed
  • Optional hole punch for binding if needed
  • Additional unnamed template of a Macaw for those doing extensions with additional Macaw species can be downloaded at this site.
  • Student Science Journals


  1. View The Living Edens: "Manu, Peru's Hidden Rain Forest" program in class. Focus on macaws in the program.
  2. Purchase a pre-bound book from local bookstore or assemble a book with about 15 pages (or more). Include the following in the children's book:
    • Title page
    • Author information page (Students name, grade,school, etc.)
    • Photos from magazines of Macaws and environment in which they live
    • Facts on Macaws on each page of story
  3. If a self-constructed booklet ,bind the pages with string, duct tape, stapler, etc.
  4. Download templates of Macaws and color according to color key provided.
  5. Attach drawings of Macaws with school glue on pages of book.
  6. Cut out photos of jungle photos and Macaw photos from wildlife books and attach with glue on additional pages.
  7. Write narrative/facts about each Macaw species from background information or additional information gathered in research. Collect data for book in student science journals and transfer to Macaw Book.
  8. Write narrative/facts on additional photos of the jungle and Macaws from books used to find pictures. Collect data for book in student science journals and transfer to Macaw Book.
  9. Read the Macaw Book to classmates and put on display in the school media center.

Evaluation/Alternative Assessment:

Observe students researching Macaw materials and evaluate with a rubric created for this project. Display books in the media center of the school. Establish a rubric for numbers of pages, additional photos, and narrative.

Elementary Extension:

This same activity can be completed with just the drawings downloaded from this site. Additionally, narrative can be of a more simple nature from background material provided.

High School Extension:

The biology and diversity of the species of Macaw can be explored along with the areas of frequency as shown by maps that can be researched. High school students can also visit the local zoo, contact the ornithologist and research specific problems related to Macaws in captivity. Research reasons for depleted populations in the wild. Explore the issue of the illegal wildlife trade in rare and exotic birds in the Amazon basin.

Web Resources:

click here to return to the Manu home page
Producer's Journal | The People of Manu | Flora and Fauna | History | Conservation
Classroom Resources | Trivia Challenge | Related Links | Screen Saver | About the Film | Manu Credits
click here to go to the PBS home page