(Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)

FUN FACT

At over three feet long (tip of beak to end of tail) and almost four pounds, the Hyacinth Macaw is the largest flighted parrot species.

Few birds are as instantly recognizable as the aptly named Hyacinth Macaw.  With their bright blue feathers, yellow-ringed eyes and mischievous grins, they are the class clowns of the parrot world.

These intelligent, social birds gather in flocks of up to 30 individuals, using their loud squawks and screams to keep in touch with each other in the dense rainforest canopy.  They travel long distances daily in search of the various nuts and fruit that make up their diet.  Hyacinth Macaws boast large, powerful beaks that can crack into even the hardest nuts, giving them access to a food sources few other animals can exploit.  Macaws are also sometimes seen eating damp clay off open cliff faces, perhaps to neutralize noxious chemicals from the fruits and nuts that might otherwise both their stomachs.

Once common throughout Central America and eastern South American, the wild Hyacinth Macaw has fallen on hard times due to over-collection for the caged bird trade, and habitat loss.  In the 1908's, an estimated 10,000 birds were taken from the wild, and destruction of nesting trees by cattle ranchers an dplantation farmers continues to impact their survival.  The Hyacinth Macaw is still locally common in some parts of Brazil, though, and many ranch-owners have begun to protect the macaws on their land.

Distribution

Central and eastern South America

Habitat

Palm swamps, dry thorn forests, and the open edges of large rivers.

Diet

Nuts and some fruit, especially nuts from the native acuri and bocaiuva palms. The Hyacinth Macaw's beak is so powerful, it can crack coconuts.

Breeding

Hyacinth Macaws nest in tree cavities or cliff faces between July and December, laying one to two eggs (although usually only one chick survives to fledging). The female alone incubates, and the male brings her food during that month-long period. Chicks fledge at about 110 days of age, but will remain with the parents for at least another six months. Hyacinth Macaws do not become fully mature and able to reproduce until seven years of age.

Status

Endangered

At the Aviary

Visit Benito in our Tropical Rainforest exhibit, and watch our flying Hyacinths demonstrate their skills during our Bird Show and other special presentations.