The hyacinth macaw, or hyacinthine macaw, is a parrot native to central and eastern South America. With a length of about 100 cm it is longer than any other species of parrot. It is the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species, though the flightless kakapo of New Zealand can outweigh it at up to 3.5 kg.
- Common Name
- hyacinth macaw
- Psittacidae (true parrots)
- Genus Species
- Anodorhynchus (toothless beak) hyacinthinus (blue)
- Hyacinth macaws are the largest of the parrots and, as their name implies, are covered with bright blue plumage. They have bare yellow eye ring circles around large black eyes, a yellow chin, a strongly hooked beak and zygodactylous feet (2 toes that point forward and 2 toes that point backward).
- Approximately 100 cm (39 in.)
- Approximately 1550–1600 g (3–3.5 lbs.)
- Includes seeds, fruits, nuts, and berries
- Approximately 29 days
- Clutch Size
- 2–3 eggs
- Fledging Duration
- 4 months; then remain with parents for up to a year
- Sexual Maturity
- 2–4 years
- Life Span
- 30–50 years or more
- Southern Brazil and Western Bolivia
- Found in tall trees and palms of swamps, forests, and near rivers
- Global: 2,500–10,000
- IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Appendix I
- The hyacinth macaw is the largest macaw species.
- These macaws frequently travel together in small flocks of 1–8 pairs, and loudly call to one another.
- Macaw pairs remained bonded.
- In the wild, macaws often flock to mountains of clay known as “macaw licks.”
- When disturbed, these bright birds screech loudly and circle overhead with their long tails streaming.
- Macaws are playful and inquisitive and are able to mimic human vocalizations very well.
- Macaws are able to reach flight speeds of up to 56 kph (35 mph).
- Macaws eat palm nuts only after the nuts have passed through the digestive system of a cow.
Fun Facts for Kids
- Hyacinth macaws are often considered to be gentle giants, with loving and gentle personalities.
- To avoid being eaten by Hyacinth macaws, palm trees produce harder and harder nuts over time. Some macaws with very big beaks can open these nuts. Their young get larger and heavier beaks from their genes, and so beaks become bigger in each new generation.
- The macaw uses its beak to score a mark in the nut. Then, as a cutter does, it slices the nut into two halves, cutting very cleanly, almost like human work.
- Hyacinth macaws can mimic human voices.
- When in flight, the Hyacinth macaw makes a guttural and discordant “kraaa-aaa”, repeating these sounds in bursts. When roosting, it makes barks, yelps, and growls.
- When disturbed, these macaws screech loudly, circling overhead while their long tails stream out behind them.
- The acuri nut, which is a favorite of the hyacinth macaw, is so hard that the bird cannot eat it until it has been digested by cattle.
- Hyacinth macaws sometimes eat clay, which helps them absorb the poison that naturally occurs in some unripe fruits and seeds. These mountains of clay are called “macaw licks”.