Breeding in the Wild
Most breeding activities have been observed between February and April; although they may start breeding as early as December and nest as late as May. Lear's Macaws are not as prolific as other bird species, and not all pairs may breed. They reach reproductive maturity when they are about 2 to 4 years old.
The Lear's Macaws generally nest high in steep limestone cliffs. They soften the sandstone by applying their saliva to it. Then they excavate small crevasses with their beaks and clean the dirt out with their feet. They nest in colonies, although the nests are not within sight of each other. They will defend their nests from predators and competitors.
The clutch consists of 1 - 2 eggs, each measuring 57.0 x 38.4 mm (2.24 x 1.51 ins). The survival rate of the eggs and the chicks is low, as they are predated on, are poached, or succumb to diseases. The nesting female will leave the nest only for short periods to feed as the young are depending on her for warmth and feeding. Once the young have developed protective feathers, she will stay away for longer periods. During the night, both parents will roost in the nesting cavity.
Those that make it to the fledging age (at about 3 months) will remain with their parents for some time after leaving the nest. The weeks before fledging, the young grow increasingly inquisitive and they are often seen peeking out of their nesting cavities, which makes them particularly vulnerable to poachers.
This species is in danger of extinction and is, therefore, protected. Exporting, importing, selling, buying or keeping this species is subject to special laws and may require licenses. Those ignoring the laws face imprisonment or harsh fines.
Lear's Macaws require a spacious, planted outside aviary of the following minimum dimensions: 10 x 3 x 2.5 m (30 x 9 x 8 ft) with adjoining shelter - 3 x 2 x 2 m (9 x 6 x 6 ft). It needs to be a strong metal structure with thick mesh, as their strong beaks would easily destroy any wood construction flights.
Captive breeding is seldom achieved. The typical nest box is made from thick-walled hardwood with the following dimensions: 50 x 60 x 80 cm (20 x 24 x 30 in) and an entrance hole that is about 18 cm (7 in) across. Nest boxes should be placed and mounted in an area that provides adequate privacy to the birds, but should also allow caretakers to inspect it easily from the outside.
They are generally hardy and can be kept outside once acclimatized. The temperature should never be allowed to go below 15°C (59°F) . Outside the breeding season, they can be kept with other macaws, even with smaller birds.
Pairs tend to stay close together and enjoy roaming about on the ground. They like to bathe, particularly in the summer.
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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