Hyacinth Macaw, Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus

The Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), or Hyacinthine Macaw, is a species of parrot that is found in South America. It exists in three main colonies: the Pantanal region of Brazil, the Cerrado region of eastern Brazil, and around the Tocantins River, Xingu River, Tapajós River, and the Marajó island in the eastern Amazon Basin of Brazil. They are also found in eastern Bolivia and northeastern Paraguay. Its habitat is palm swamps, woodlands, and other semi-open wooded areas. It avoids dense humid forest mostly. It is generally restricted to forest edges along riversides.

The Hyacinth Macaw is the largest flying parrot species in the world. It is the largest parrot in terms of length (39 inches). The adult weighs 3.3 to 4.4 pounds. Its wingspan is 48 to 56 inches. It is mostly blue with some black under the wings. Its large black beak has yellow streaks along the sides of the lower mandible. The eyes are circled with yellow. Both sexes are almost identical in plumage. The female is slightly smaller and more slender. This species can be easily confused with the rare Lear’s Macaw.

The Hyacinth Macaw’s beak is very strong and helps with eating its natural foods (kernels of nuts and seeds). It also uses its beak to crack open coconuts and macadamia nuts. It also takes in fruits and vegetable matter. One of the most popular foods of its diet is pine nuts. There are eight species of palm that are key food sources for the diet of this species.

The nest of this species is existing holes in a tree. The female lays one or two eggs, although usually only one hatchling survives. The second egg usually hatches several days later and the chick cannot compete with the older first born for food. The young stays with the parents for three months. Birds become mature and begin breeding at seven years of age.

This species is considered endangered due to over-collecting for the pet trade. It is also declining due to habitat loss. Annual grass fires and areas where cattle-ranching occurs also plays a devastating role in this bird’s demise. Hydroelectric power plants and agricultural plantations also effect the populations of the Hyacinth Macaw. It has been hunted for food and also for its feathers. While declining in numbers, it has remained locally common in the Brazilian Pantanal region. This is mostly due to the “˜Hyacinth Macaw Project’ and other awareness campaigns that are trying to reestablish the species. Many ranch owners also now protect the birds that live on their lands. The World Wildlife Fund is also involved in the conservation of the species.

One interesting fact about the Hyacinth Macaw is that birds in captivity can fetch a price of $9,000 to $12,000 US.

Image Caption: Hyacinth Macaw also known as Hyacinthine Macaw at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Credit: Hank Gillette/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)