Hyacinth Macaw

Hyacinth Macaw

Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus

DID YOU KNOW?

They have beaks specially designed for cracking the hardest nuts in the world.

Exhibit Name and Location:
Baltimore - Animal Encounters

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Hyacinth Macaw

Hyacinth macaws are one of the largest species of parrot. They are beautiful, smart, and can even mimic human speech. They have a blue body of feathers, a solid black beak, and yellow circling their eyes and lower part of their beak. They nest in pre-existing holes in trees with a clutch of two to three eggs.

Chicks stay with the mother until they are 6 months old. Macaws have four toes—two toes face forward and two face backward. These feet are called zygodactyl, and are great for perching on branches, climbing in trees, and even holding food.

Parrots use vocalizations to keep in constant contact with one another in their habitat, even if they are on opposite sides of the forest.  They have a very loud call, called a contact call, they use for this. It’s their way of saying, “Hey, I’m in a tree over here! Where are you?”

These birds are often kept as pets. Parrots can be challenging to live with, because they haven’t been domesticated for thousands of years the way dogs and cats have. They are still wild animals and have adaptations that allow them to live in the wild.

Diet

Macaws eat primarily nuts from native palms, such as acuri and bocaiuva palms, but they also eat fruits and vegetables. Their beaks are strong enough to crack open coconuts.

Size

Typical length is about 40 inches, which is a little longer than a yardstick, and they can have  a wingspan of 5 feet. However, they usually weigh only about 42 ounces, which is as much as a large guinea pig!

Range

Hyacinth macaws can be found in parts of Brazil, eastern Bolivia, and northeastern Paraguay. Unlike most parrots that prefer tropical rain forest habitats, hyacinth macaws prefer lightly forested areas such as palm swamps and flooded grasslands. A major part of the population lives in the Pantanal region of Brazil.

Population Status

The hyacinth macaw is endangered due to habitat loss and over-collection for the pet trade.

Predators

Adult macaws have no known predators in the wild, but toucans, corvids, possums, and coatis prey on the eggs.

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A Note From the Caretaker

The Aquarium’s hyacinth macaw, Margaret, was chosen for Animal Planet’s Pet Star and beat a human child in a race to escape from a locked cage! She can say “hello” and her name. Her favorite treat is fresh coconut, and her favorite toy is a cardboard box.