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Hyacinth Macaw

Native to central and eastern South America, the Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), or Hyacinthine Macaw, is the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species in the world, though the flightless Kakapo of New Zealand can outweigh it at up to 3.5 kg. In terms of length it is larger than any other species of parrot. While generally easily recognized, it can be confused with the far rarer Lear's Macaw. Their popularity as pets has taken a heavy toll on their population in the wild.


The Hyacinth Macaw is 100 cm long and 1.52 kg in weight. The wingspan is 120140 cm . It is almost entirely blue and has black under the wings. It has a large black beak with bright yellow along the sides of the lower part of the beak and also yellow circling its eyes. The female and male are nearly indistinguishable, although the female is typically a bit more slender.


Food and feeding

They have a very strong beak for eating their natural foods, which include the kernel of hard nuts and seeds. Their strong beaks are even able to crack coconuts and macadamia nuts. In addition, they eat fruits and other vegetable matter. Pine nuts are also one of the most popular foods. They will also take snails.


These birds nest in existing holes in trees. The clutch size is one or two eggs, although usually only one fledgling survives as the second egg hatches several days after the first, and the smaller fledgling cannot compete with the first born for food. Juveniles stay with their parents until they are three months old. They are mature and begin breeding at seven years of age. Eggs are regularly predated by corvids, possums, coatis and (most prolifically) toucans. Adults have no known natural predators.

Distribution and habitat

The Hyacinth Macaw survives today in three main populations in South America: In the Pantanal region of Brazil, and adjacent eastern Bolivia and northeastern Paraguay, in the Cerrado region of the eastern interior of Brazil , and in the relatively open areas associated with the Tocantins River, Xingu River, Tapajos River, and the Marajo island in the eastern Amazon Basin of Brazil. It is possible that smaller, fragmented populations occur in other areas. It prefers palm swamps, woodlands, and other semi-open wooded habitats. It usually avoids dense humid forest, and in regions dominated by such habitats, it is generally restricted to the edge or relatively open sections (e.g. along major rivers).


The Hyacinth Macaw is an endangered species due to overcollection for the cage bird trade and habitat loss. Annual grass fires set by farmers can destroy nest trees, and regions previously inhabited by this macaw are now unsuitable due to cattle-ranching, hydroelectric power schemes, agriculture and plantations. Locally, it has been hunted for food, and the Kayapo Indians of Gorotire in south-central Brazil use its feathers to make headdresses and other baubles. While overall greatly reduced in numbers, it remains locally common in the Brazilian Pantanal, where a specific program, the Hyacinth Macaw Project, among others involving artificial nests and awareness campaigns, has been initiated by several ecolodges, and many ranch-owners now protect the macaws on their land.

The Minnesota Zoo with BioBrasil and World Wildlife Fund are involved in Hyacinth Macaw conservation.

Further reading

Database entry includes a range map, a brief justification of why this species is endangered, and the criteria used.

del Hoyo et al., 1997. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 4.

Caldas, Sergio T. and L Candiasani. 2005. Arara-Azul. DBA Dorea Books and Art, Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo.

External links

Hyacinth Macaw videos on the Internet Bird Collection.

The Blue Macaws website.

Hyacinth Macaw entry from Earlham College.

How the Hyacinth Macaw got its Markings - a folk tale.

Hyacinth Macaw photo gallery VIDEO.

Audio File of the Hyacinth Macaw http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=56513.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Hyacinth Macaw

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