Description: The massive and spectacular Hyacinth Macaw is the world’s largest flighted parrot and one of the rarest as well. Unmistakable, the adult’s body is deep blue throughout, with a yellow eye ring and crescent-shaped marking next to the massive black bill. The Hyacinth Macaw can weigh over four pounds and grow to a length of nearly 40 inches, much of which is accounted for in the long tail. The huge black bill is among the strongest in the avian world and is used for racking the golf-ball sized palm nuts that make up the bulk of its diet. A full 30% of the muscles in the macaw’s body are located in the head region.
Like many macaws, the Hyacinth is a social bird, often found in small flocks. Popular as a pet, Hyacinth Macaws are probably the most sought-after species, fetching prices of over $12,000 for individual birds. Although it is illegal to capture them for the pet trade, Hyacinths and many other macaw species are bred in captivity by licensed breeders. Of all the macaw species, Hyacinths are said to be the most calm and affectionate as pets. Nevertheless, they are demanding animals and require constant care and attention, a large and extremely strong enclosure to play in and stretch their wings, toys to chew on, and a tolerance for loud noises and screeches.
Diet: The Hyacinth Macaw feeds chiefly on palm nuts but will also eat other nuts and coconuts, which they can crack open with their powerful bills.
Habitat/Range: The Hyacinth Macaw inhabits several regions in eastern South America. Primary populations occur in the Pantanal region of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, and other locales in Brazil. It prefers palm woodlands and swamps and other semi-open habitats. It generally avoids dense forests.
Breeding: Hyacinth Macaws nest high above the ground in tree cavities. Females will lay one or two eggs after an incubation period of about a month. The parents will only feed the strongest chick, the other will starve. Young Hyacinth Macaws remain with their parents for about three months before venturing out on their own. They begin breeding around the age of seven.
Status: The Hyacinth Macaw is an endangered species. Some estimates place the entire wild population at about 6,000 – 7,000 birds. Threats to the continued survival of these majestic birds include habitat destruction, collection for the illegal pet trade, and poaching.