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Hyacinth Macaw

(Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)

  • Animal Type

    Birds

  • Exhibits

    Not currently on exhibit.

  • Range

    South America

Overview

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 the 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 six 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.

The star of National Aquarium Animal Programs is a hyacinth macaw named Margaret. Meet her at one of our daily presentations.

A Note from the Caretaker

The Aquarium's hyacinth macaw, Margaret, can say "hello" and her name. Her favorite treat is fresh coconut, and her favorite toy is a cardboard box.

Quick Facts

Learn more about the hyacinth macaw! Did you know that hyacinth macaws have beaks specially designed for cracking the hardest nuts in the world?

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.

Macaws primarily eat 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.

The typical length of a hyacinth macaw is about 40 inches, which is a little longer than a yardstick, and they can have a wingspan of 5 feet. Despite their size, they usually weigh only about 42 ounces—about as much as a large guinea pig!

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

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

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