Characteristics of Fecal and Crop Cytology in Wild Nestling Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) and Green-Wing Macaws (Ara chloropterus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2011
Nadia Stegeman1, DVM, MPH; Lizzie Ortiz2, MZV; Christina Belcher3, DVM; Fernando Takano Blgo2; Elizabeth Smith2; Meagan Selvig2; Patrick Inácio Pina2; Donald Brightsmith2, MS, PhD; J. Jill Heatley4, DVM, MS, DACZM, DACVP (Avian)
1Houston/Austin, TX, USA; 2Tambopata Macaw Project, Tambopata Reserve, Peru; 3Greenville Zoo, Greenville, SC, USA; 4Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA


A total of 39 fecal samples and 19 crop content samples were obtained from 15 wild scarlet macaw (Ara macao) and four green-winged macaw (Ara chloropterus) nestlings living in the western Amazon basin in Peru. Ages of nestlings ranged from 2 to approximately 70 days post-hatching. Samples were evaluated for bacterial content, fungal elements (hyphae or yeast), and presence of inflammatory cells using Diff-Quik and Gram staining techniques. Of the 19 crop samples, one (5.3%) had inflammatory cells, 17 (89.5%) had epithelial cells, and 15 (78.9%) had a fungal element. Total bacterial counts per 1000x field averaged 77.7 with a standard deviation of 77.6. Average percentage of rods (as opposed to cocci) per field was 87.2% (SD=24.3%). On average, 90.7% of the bacteria were gram positive (SD=7.9%). Of the 39 fecal samples, three (7.7%) had inflammatory cells, 35 (89.7%) had epithelial cells, and 28 (71.8%) had some sort of fungal element. Total bacterial counts per 1000x field averaged 192.6 with a standard deviation of 71.3. Average percentage of rods per field was 92.8% (SD 9.4%). On average, 95.7% of the bacteria were gram positive (SD=4.9%). While previous speciating of fecal sample bacterial populations has been evaluated on samples from the adults in this group,1 this is the first study investigating flora of hatchling populations with results presented in a format easily transferrable to clinical application.


The authors would like to thank the Brown Family of Texas for financial support and the Texas A&M Schubot Center and Tambopata Macaw Project’s staff and volunteers for logistical support.

Literature Cited

1.  Xenoulis, P., P. Gray, D. Brightsmith, et al. 2010. Molecular characterization of the cloacal microbiota of wild and captive parrots. Vet Microbiol 146: 320–325.


Speaker Information
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Nadia Stegeman, DVM, MPH
Houston/Austin, TX, USA

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