Macaws are long-tailed, often colorful New World parrots. The scarlet macaw ('Ara macao') is a large red, yellow, and blue Central and South American parrot. It is native to humid evergreen forests of tropical Central and South America.

The range extends from south-eastern Mexico to the Peruvian Amazon, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Brazil in lowlands of 500 m (1,640 ft) (at least formerly) up to 1,000 m (3,281 ft). In some areas, it has suffered local extinction because of habitat destruction or capture for the parrot trade, but in other areas it remains fairly common. Formerly it ranged north to southern Tamaulipas. It can still be found on the island of Coiba.

It is about 81 centimeters (32 in) long, of which more than half is the pointed, graduated tail typical of all macaws, though the scarlet macaw has a larger percentage of tail than the other large macaws. The average weight is about 1 kilogram (2.2 lb). The plumage is mostly scarlet, but the rump and tail-covert feathers are light blue, the greater upper wing coverts are yellow, the upper sides of the flight feathers of the wings are dark blue as are the ends of the tail feathers, and the undersides of the wing and tail flight feathers are dark red with metallic gold iridescence. Some individuals may have green in the wings.

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