Ara tricolor Bechstein, 1811

Cuban macaw, Guacamayo Cubano, Hispaniolan macaw (in error)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Ara cubensis Wetherbee, 1985


Conservation Status


Last record: 1864 (Bangs and Zappey, 1905)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


The last specimen or specimens to be collected were shot in 1864 (Bangs and Zappey, 1905). Williams & Steadman (2001) cite the aforementioned as stating that a pair were shot. However, BirdLife International (2012) cites the aforementioned as stating that only a single specimen was collected. I have not examined (Bangs and Zappey, 1905) myself so I cannot state unambiguously what the authors state.

Reports of sightings of this species from 1876 (Williams & Steadman, 2001) and 1885 (Lack, 1976) also exist.



Cuba (including Isla de la Juventud)


Biology & Ecology




19 preserved specimens exist, possibly more (BirdLife International, 2008).


Holotype: MNHN CG 2000–726


Other specimens:

RMNH 110.095






Original scientific description:

Bechstein, J. M. (1811). J. Lathams Allgemeine Uebersicht der Vögel. Volume 4, Th. 1, p.64, pl. 1.


Other references:

Arredondo, O. (1984). Sinopsis de las aves halladas en depósitos fosilíferos pleisto-holocénicos de Cuba. Instituto de Zoología, Reporte de Investigación 17: 1-35.

Arredondo, O. and Arredondo, C. (2002a [for 1999]). Nuevos género y especie de ave fósil (Falconiformes: Accipitridae) del Cuaternario de Cuba. Poeyana 470-475: 9-14.

Arredondo, O. and Arredondo, C. (2002b [for 1999]). Nueva especie de ave (Falconiformes: Teratornithidae) del Pleistoceno de Cuba. Poeyana 470-475: 15-21.

Bangs, O. and Zappey, W. R. (1905). Birds of the Isle of Pines. American Naturalist 39: 179-215.

Barbour, T. (1923). The birds of Cuba. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological Club 6: 1-141.

BirdLife International. (2012). Ara tricolor. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. ( Downloaded on 16 March 2013.

Clark, A. H. (1905). The Greater Antillean Macaws. Auk 22: 348.

Cory, C. B. (1886). [Note on Ara tricolor]. Auk 3: 454.

Forshaw, Joseph M. and Cooper, William T. (1989). Parrots of the world. Blandford Press, London.

Forshaw, Joseph M. and Knight, Frank. (2017). Vanished and Vanishing Parrots: Profiling Extinct and Endangered Species. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing.

Fuller, Errol. (1988). Extinct Birds. New York: Facts on File Publications. 256 pp.

Greenway James C. (1967). Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World. American Committee for International Wild Life Protection, Special Publication no 13, 2nd edn. Dover Publications, New York.

Gundlach, J. (1856). [Ara tricolor]. Journ. für Orn. 4: 105.

Gundlach, J. (1876). Contribución a la Ornitologia Cubana. Habana: Imp. “La Antilla,” de N. Cacho-Negrete.

Gundlach, J. (1893). Ornitología cubana, o catálogo descriptivo de todas las especies tanto indígenas como de paso anual o accidental observadas en 53 años. Habana, “Archivos de la Policlinica”, Imprenta “La Moderna”.

Hume, Julian Pender. (2017). Extinct birds (second edition). London: Bloomsbury.

Jiménez, O. and Orihuela, J. (2021). Nuevos hallazgos de aves en contextos paleontológicos y arqueológicos de Cuba. Novit. Carib. 17: 163-176.

Johansson, Ulf S., Ericson, Per G. P., Blom, Mozes, P. K. and Irestedt, Martin. (2018). The phylogenetic position of the extinct Cuban Macaw Ara tricolor based on complete mitochondrial genome sequences. Ibis 160(3): 666-672.

Jouanin, Christian. (1962). Inventaire des oiseaux éteints ou en voie d’extinction conservés au Muséum de Paris. Terre et Vie 109: 275-301.

Kirkconnell, Arturo, Kirwan, Guy M., Garrido, Orlando H., Mitchell, Andy D. and Wiley, James W. (2020). The birds of Cuba: an annotated checklist. BOC Checklist No. 26. British Ornithologists’ Club, Tring.

Knox, Alan G. and Walters, Michael P. (1994). Extinct and endangered birds in the collections of The Natural History Museum. British Ornithologists' Club Occasional Publications 1: 1-292. [p. 154]

Lack, David. (1976). Island biology illustrated by the land birds of Jamaica. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.

Moreno, A. (1992). Uber den am Ende des 19 Jahrhunderts aus gestorbenen en Kuba-Ara (Ara cubensis). Bongo 20: 65-68.

Navarro, Nils (original author) and Sánchez, Loyda (translator). (2015). Endemic Birds of Cuba: A Comprehensive Field Guide – Including West Indian Endemics Residing in Cuba. Ediciones Nuevos Mundos. [p. 66-67]

Olson, Storrs L. (2005). Refutation of the historical evidence for a Hispaniolan Macaw (Aves: Psittacidae: Ara). Caribbean Journal of Science 41: 319-323.

Olson, S.L. & López, E.J.M. (2008) Caribbean Journal of Science, 44, 215–222.

Olson, Storrs L. and Maíz, E. (2008). New evidence of Ara autochthones from an archeological site in Puerto Rico: a valid species of West Indian macaw of unknown geographical origin (Aves: Psittacidae). Caribbean Journal of Science 44: 215-222.

Olson, Storrs L. and Suárez, William. (2008). A fossil cranium of the Cuban Macaw Ara tricolor (Aves: Psittacidae) from Villa Clara Province, Cuba. Caribbean Journal of Science 44(3): 287-290.

Orihuela, Johanset. (2019). An annotated list of late Quaternary extinct birds of Cuba. Ornitología Neotropical 30: 57-67.

Pacheco, Nils Navarro. (2018). Annotated checklist of the birds of Cuba. Ediciones Nuevos Mundos.

Provost, K. L., Joseph, L. and Smith, B. T. (2018). Resolving a phylogenetic hypothesis for parrots: implications from systematics to conservation. Emu‒Austral Orn. 118: 7-21.

Rothschild, Lionel Walter Rothschild. (1907). Extinct birds: an attempt to write in one volume a short account of those birds which have become extinct in historical times, that is within the last six or seven hundred years: to which are added a few which still exist, but are on the verge of extinction. London: Hutchinson & Co. XXIX + 243 pp. [p. 51, pl. 10]

Sayol, Ferran, Steinbauer, Manuel J., Blackburn, Tim M., Antonelli, Alexandre and Faurby, Søren. (2020). Anthropogenic extinctions conceal widespread evolution of flightlessness in birds. Science Advances 6(49): eabb6095. [Supplementary Material (Data File S1)]

Steadman, David W. and Franklin, Janet. (2020). Bird populations and species lost to Late Quaternary environmental change and human impact in the Bahamas. PNAS. doi/10.1073/pnas.2013368117 [Supplementary Information]

Suárez, William. (2022). Catalogue of Cuban fossil and subfossil birds. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 142(1): 10-74.

Tyrberg, Tommy. (2009). Holocene avian extinctions, pp. 63-106. In: Turvey, Samuel T. (ed.). Holocene Extinctions. Oxford, UK & New York, USA: Oxford University Press. xii + 352 pp.

Walters, Michael. (1995). On the status of Ara tricolor Bechstein. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 115: 168-170.

Wetherbee, David Kenneth. (1985). The Extinct Cuban and Hispaniolan Macaws (Ara, Psittacidae), and description of a new species, Ara cubensis. Caribbean Journal of Science 21(3-4): 169-175.

Wetherbee, David Kenneth. (1986). Les Petits Ara Rouges. Privately Published.

Wetherbee, David Kenneth. (1988). The Hispaniolan versus Cuban origin of the type of Ara tricolor Bechstein (Psittacidae). Privately Published.

Wetmore, Alexander. (1928). Bones of birds from the Ciego Montero deposit of Cuba. American Museum Novitates 301: 1-5.

Wetmore, Alexander. (1937). Cuban Red Macaw. J. Agric. Univ. Puerto Rico 21: 12.

Wiley, James W. and Kirwan, Guy M. (2013). The extinct macaws of the West Indies, with special reference to Cuban Macaw Ara tricolor. The Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 133(2): 125-156. [automatic download]

Wiley, J. W., R. A. Román, A R. Beceña, C. P. Rodríguez, A. Kirkconnell, A. O. Piferrer, and M A. Cruz. (2008). The bird collections of Cuba. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 128: 17-27.

Williams, Mathew I. and Steadman, David W. (2001). The historic and prehistoric distribution of parrots (Psittacidae) in the West Indies, pp. 175-189. In: Woods, Charles A. and Sergile, Florence E. (eds.). Biogeography of the West Indies: Patterns and Perspectives, 2nd ed. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.


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