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What Is a Hyacinth Macaw?

The Hyacinth Macaw is a majestic bird, boasting a brilliant blue plumage and a wingspan that commands attention. As the largest flying parrot, its gentle nature belies its grandeur, often earning it the nickname "gentle giant." With a playful personality and strong social bonds, these birds are a wonder of the avian world. How do they interact with their environment? Continue with us to uncover the life of this fascinating creature.
Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee

The hyacinth macaw, or Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus, is an endangered species of parrot native to central South America, most notably Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. These birds typically reach an adult length of 3.3 feet (100 cm), and are believed to be the longest species of parrot in the world. The average adult hyacinth macaw weighs 2.6 to 3.7 pounds (1.2 to 1.7 kilos), and is generally dark blue all over its body, except for two strips of yellow skin on either side of the beak and yellow rings of skin around the eyes. Birds in the wild usually reach reproductive maturity at about seven years of age, and the breeding season for the hyacinth macaw normally lasts from July to December. While the young macaws typically learn to fly at about 110 days old, they will generally remain with their parents until about the age of six months.

Threats to the world's wild population of hyacinth macaws include loss of their natural habitat due to agricultural activities, hunting, and the exotic pet industry. Native tribes in the hyacinth macaw's habitat sometimes eat these birds, and will also use their feathers to make crafts for sale. Agricultural activities in the region are blamed for killing many of the trees in which these parrots make their nests, damaging their ability to breed. Experts believe that, despite current legislation, many specimens are still illegally exported for sale as exotic pets, since they are a very valuable exotic bird species.

Hyacinth macaws often scavenge palm nuts that have been eaten and excreted by cattle.
Hyacinth macaws often scavenge palm nuts that have been eaten and excreted by cattle.

These birds typically feed on fruits and palm nuts. They will often scavenge palm nuts that have been eaten and excreted by cattle. While these birds will usually build their nests in cliffs and trees, they usually seek food in deforested areas and grass lands. Since cattle in the area often feed on palm nuts, they can often be found in abundance in pastures. It is believed that the digestive process may make the palm nuts easier for the birds to break open with their beaks.

The average female hyacinth macaw builds her nest in a depression in a tree trunk or on a cliff face. She may fill the hole with scraps of wood before laying one or two eggs. When two eggs are laid, usually only one young macaw survives, since the other will generally hatch much later and receive less food than its sibling. The young birds begin learning to fly when they are about 110 days old. They will generally leave their parents' care at the age of six months.

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Discussion Comments


@Grivusangel -- Next time I'm in the Nashville area, I'll have to get by the zoo and see the macaws. They do sound beautiful, and I'm so glad they have such a nice habitat. I've heard a lot of good things about that zoo, anyway. They seem to have a really great facility and the animals get good care. I've never heard anything negative about the place, which is a good thing.


The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere has a flock of hyacinth macaws. I'd never seen them except in pictures until I saw the ones in Nashville. They are truly gorgeous birds. Their blue is so deep and bright. The zoo has them in an outdoor enclosure where they can fly free without escaping. They are obviously happy, healthy birds, and it was a real treat to see them happily living in a flock, flying and socializing with each other.

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    • Hyacinth macaws often scavenge palm nuts that have been eaten and excreted by cattle.
      By: marco iacobucci
      Hyacinth macaws often scavenge palm nuts that have been eaten and excreted by cattle.