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Hyacinth Macaw Fact File

Appearance

The hyacinth macaw is the largest parrot in the world. A mature individual may measure as much as 1m (3.3ft) long. Their weight is between 1.55 and 1.6kg (3-3.5lbs). Their wingspan is between 117 and 127cm (46-50in).

Their body is covered with deep blue feathers. While the feather appears blue if crushed it is black. This is due to the way light interacts with the feather and produces the appearance that it is blue. Around the eye and at the base of the beak is a patch of bare skin that is colored yellow. This distinguishes them from other macaw species which have a large bare patch around the eye.

The large beak is colored black and curved. It is strong enough to crack open a coconut.

Both the male and female are similar in the appearance.

The foot of a hyacinth macaw is zygodactylous. This means that each foot has 2 claws facing forward and 2 facing backwards. Their foot shape is an adaptation allowing them to grab branches easier.

Diet

The hyacinth macaw is a herbivore. Their large beak allows them to eat hard nuts which other birds would struggle to break in to. They also feed on seeds, berries, fruits and plant material.

They will eat palm nuts though typically only after these have been ingested by a cow.

Wild macaws will gather at clay mountains and eat clay to help neutralize toxins in their diet.

While they eat the hyacinth macaw drops seeds on to the forest floor along with the ones they digest and expel in their feces. Both of these help to generate new trees in the forest.

hyacinth macaw

Scientific Name

Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus

Conservation Status

Vulnerable

Weight

1.55-1.6kg (3-3.5lbs)

Length

1m (3.3ft)

Wingspan

117-127cm (46-50in)

Lifespan

50 years

Diet

Herbivorous

Range

South America is the native home of the hyacinth macaw. Here they can be found through Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.

Their population is decreasing across the majority of their range and they have become severely fragmented. In a range of areas they have become locally extinct.

Habitat

They make their home in forests, swamps, savannas and grasslands.

Reproduction

Hyacinth macaws nest between July and December. They are a monogamous species and a pair will spend their entire lives together.

A nest is formed in a tree cavity or cliff. Their tree hollows typically sit between 4 and 14m (13-46ft) off the ground.

In to the nest a female lays two eggs though it is unusual for both to reach fledging. These eggs are incubated for between 25 and 28 days. The female is primarily responsible for incubation with the male providing her with food.

They face a range of predators including coatis, skunks and birds. A major predator of eggs is the toucan. Toucans are one of the main seed dispersers for their favored nesting tree though.

After hatching the chicks are fed with regurgitated food.

It takes them 13 weeks to fledge though they remain with the parents for 1.5 years.

Hyacinth macaws take between 2 and 4 years to reach sexual maturity.

hyacinth macaw

Behaviour

Their loud call sounds like ‘kraaa.’

Most of their time is spent with their partner though they have been seen travelling in small flocks.

When in flight their speed can reach up to 56km/h (35mph).

A majority of their activity is undertaken in the morning and early afternoon.

Predators and Threats

They face predation as adults from snakes and hawks.

Humans are a major contributor to the decline of the hyacinth macaw. One main cause of this is collection for the pet trade. While trade in wild birds is now illegal many people still smuggle them for black market trade. At its peak in the 1980s 10,000 birds were taken from the wild.

Habitat loss is also a contributor to their decline. This is occurring both to clear land for agriculture and as a result of fires.

Quick facts

The hyacinth macaw is also known as the blue macaw.

These parrots are able to problem solve and their intelligence has been compared to that of a toddler. Some basic tool use behavior has been exhibited including using a leaf to stop nuts they are trying to eat slipping.

Photo Credits

Under License

References

Seaworld.org. 2020. Hyacinth Macaw Facts And Information | Seaworld Parks & Entertainment. [online] Available at: <https://seaworld.org/animals/facts/birds/hyacinth-macaw/> [Accessed 27 July 2020].

Aviary.org. 2020. The National Aviary - Hyacinth Macaws. [online] Available at: <https://www.aviary.org/hyacinth-macaws> [Accessed 27 July 2020].

Adelaide Zoo. 2020. Meet Our Magnificent Hyacinth Macaw At Adelaide Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.adelaidezoo.com.au/animals/hyacinth-macaw/> [Accessed 27 July 2020].

Hagan, E. 2004. "Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 27, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Anodorhynchus_hyacinthinus/

BirdLife International. 2016. Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22685516A93077457. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22685516A93077457.en. Downloaded on 27 July 2020.

Seaworld.org. 2020. Hyacinth Macaw Facts And Information | Seaworld Parks & Entertainment. [online] Available at: <https://seaworld.org/animals/facts/birds/hyacinth-macaw/> [Accessed 27 July 2020].

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