Classification Order Psittaciformes, Family Psittacidae Scientific Name Anodorhynchus Hyacinthinus Other Common Names N/A
Species Description The Hyacinth Macaw is 100 cm (39 in) long and
1.5-2 kg (3.3-4.4 lb) in weight. The wingspan is 120-140 cm (48-56
in). 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.
They have a very strong
beak for eating their natural foods, which include the kernal 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.
There are eight species of palm that are central to their diet.
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.
Habitat 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).
Distribution 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, Tapajs River, and the Maraj island in the eastern Amazon
Basin of Brazil. It is possible that smaller, fragmented populations
occur in other areas.
Captivity Hyacinths are playful, intelligent, and avid
chewers. They love puzzling toys, interlocking toys, or toys with
surprise treats that have to be extracted. However, if they are not
properly stimulated, they can become loud and destructive. Regular,
supervised playtime outside the cage and human interaction is
essential. Their sometimes loud, demanding nature requires patience.
Their cost, both upfront (average cost is $8,500) and throughout
their long lifespan (up to 60 years or more), is another challenge
that should be looked at carefully by anyone interested in keeping
Summary Macaws are small to large, often colorful New
World parrots. Of the many different Psittacidae (true parrots)
genera, six are classified as macaws: Ara, Anodorhynchus,
Cyanopsitta, Primolius, Orthopsittaca, and Diopsittaca. Previously,
the members of the genus Primolius were placed in Propyrrhura, but
the former is correct as per ICZN rules. Macaws are native to
Mexico, Central America, South America, and formerly the Caribbean.
Most species are associated with forest, especially rainforest, but
others prefer woodland or savanna-like habitats.
dark (usually black) beaks, and relatively hairless, light colored,
medial facial (facial patch) areas distinguish macaws. Sometimes the
facial patch is smaller in some species, and limited to a yellow
patch around the eyes and a second patch near the base of the beak
in the members of the genus Anodorhynchus, or Hyacinth Macaw. It has
been documented that a Macaw's facial feathers are unique as a human
Some of the macaw species are popularly
known for their impressive size. The largest parrot in length and
wingspan is the Hyacinth Macaw. The heaviest macaw is the Buffon's,
although the heaviest parrot is the flightless Kakapo. While still
relatively large parrots, the macaws of the genera Cyanopsitta,
Orthopsittaca and Primolius are significantly smaller than the
members of Anodorhynchus and Ara. The smallest member of the family,
the Red-shouldered Macaw, is no larger than some parakeets of the
Macaws, like other parrots, as well as toucans and
woodpeckers, are zygodactyl, having their first and fourth toe
Macaws eat nuts, seeds, fruit, and sometimes insects. They also gnaw
and chew on various objects. They show a large amount of
intelligence in their behavior and require constant intellectual
stimulation to satisfy their innate curiosity. They often learn
Macaws have been said to live for up to
100 years; however, an average of 50 years is probably more
accurate. The larger macaws may live up to 65 years. They are
monogamous and mate for life. In captivity unmated macaws will bond
primarily with one person – their keeper, and can often be quite
affectionate and cuddly. Pet macaws thrive on frequent interaction
and attention from their owners, and a lack of this can lead to
their mental and physical suffering.
also take place and most macaws that are subjected to non-aggressive
behavior will trust most humans, and can be handled even by
strangers if someone familiar is also alongside.
pet macaws sometimes display difficult behavior, the most common
being biting, screaming, and feather-plucking. Feather-plucking does
not normally occur in the wild, strongly suggesting that it is the
result of a neurosis related to life in captivity, though some
sources suggest other causes such as inbreeding in captive
populations, food allergies, and dry skin (most of these birds are
adapted to humid climates).
Most pet macaws had ancestors
living in the wild just two to four generations ago, and are not
truly domesticated by any reasonable definition. (This is unlike,
for example, dogs; some estimates put the domestication of dogs as
far back as 40,000 years ago.) They are, however, quite social and
All species of macaws have very
powerful, large beaks and large macaws are capable of destroying
household furnishings and can potentially cause considerable harm to
both children and adults. They tend to be loud: in the wild their
voices need to carry over long distances. This makes macaws very
demanding birds to keep as a household pet. Additional complications
arise from the intelligence levels of macaws and their negative
responses to stimuli people may use on domestic pets, such as
A common trend in recent years is hybridising
macaws for the pet trade. Hybrids are typical macaws, with the only
difference from true species being their genetics and their colors.
Male offspring tend to take on the traits of the mother, and the
females take the traits of the father. As for their temperament and
behavior, they seem to inherit traits of both parents.
Aviculturists have reported an over abundance of female blue and
gold macaws in captivity, which differs from the general rule with
captive macaws and other parrots, where the males are more abundant.
This would explain why the blue and gold is the most commonly
hybridised macaw, and why the hybridising trend took hold among
macaws. Common macaw hybrids include Harlequins (Ara ararauna x
chloroptera) and Catalinas (known as Rainbows in Australia, A.
ararauna x macao).
As a number of species of macaws are
endangered, it would be beneficial to maintain pure breeding stock
of captive macaws to ensure species preservation. Hybridizing
dilutes the available gene pool and could hasten a species
Macaws are known to eat clay, which is
believed to work as an antidote to the poisonous seeds they eat. The
chemicals in the clay mix with the poison allowing it to pass
through the bird's digestive system without harming the bird.
Large Macaws require a large amount of room and thus the cage a
single bird occupies should be as large as possible, 36 inches wide
x 36 inches deep x 60 inches high, or larger. They need ample
amounts of room to prevent the muscles in their wings from
atrophying as well as plenty of room to play, exercise in, and
spread their wings. The bars of the cage should be no larger than 1
inch apart and should be made of durable metal. It should not have
parts that contain lead or zinc, including paint on the bars. Cage
cleaning and hygiene are important, Many cages have a grate covering
the base to separate the bird from its droppings. The cage should be
placed in an area that is off the floor, well-lit, and of a
consistent temperature. Perches are acceptable and recommended;
perches of varied materials and size are required to keep feet
healthy. Stands placed strategicly around the house are important as
an additional place to hang out and be part of the family. A spray
bottle of lukewarm water can be used to bathe the bird. (All macaws
typically like water and will also respond happily to an outing in
the kitchen sink as well or spray down in the shower.)