The hyacinth macaw has black feet and a black beak. The overall color is a deep blue with bright yellow skin around the eye and lower mandible (jaw). Macaw species are some of the largest of all parrots, the hyacinth being the largest. Like all parrots, they have heavy curved beaks used for cracking nuts and aiding in climbing. Macaws also have zygodactyl foot configuration with two middle toes facing forward and the two outside toes facing backward. This helps the bird in holding food and climbing. Macaws are usually brightly colored and have very long tail feathers.
Macaws are found through Central and South America and some islands of the Caribbean. Hyacinths are found in the interior of Brazil, south of the Amazon and western Bolivia.
Macaws can be found in forests, swamplands, open savannas, palm groves and along riverbanks depending on the availability of land and the country in which they are found. Macaws are being forced to more remote, inaccessible areas of their range.
Macaws create nests in holes near the tops of trees, particularly in dead palms or in holes previously occupied by woodpeckers. Usually two eggs are laid with an incubation period, (by the female), of 24-26 days. The young are fledged in 13 weeks and reach adulthood in 6 months. There is little or no sexual dimorphism in the macaws.
Macaws will travel in flocks, like other parrots, often accompanied by raucous screeching (one reason they don’t make the best pets). They have regular roost sites for the evening and in the early morning will fly to feeding grounds. The macaw diet consists of seeds, fruits, (particularly those of certain palm trees), nuts and limited vegetable matter. They actively search for food in the mornings and late afternoon, preferring to stay in the shade during the hottest daylight hours.
In their natural habitat, they primarily feed on the palm nut. They have a unique relationship with the production of the palm nuts to where the palm nuts evolve to have harder shells as a defense against the predation by Hyacinth Macaws. In return, the Hyacinth evolves to have a larger stronger bill to continue to feed on that food item.
There are 17 species of macaw. They belong to the family Psittacidae, which includes the Amazon parrots, parakeets, and conures. Like other parrot species, the pet trade and habitat destruction is putting a lot of pressure on the macaws. There are 13 species of macaw that are threatened including the hyacinth macaw according to the IUCN Red List to Threatened Animals/World Conservation Monitoring Center.
Central/Eastern South America
Forests, swamplands, open savannas, palm groves, riverbanks
1 meter long
Seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetation
Eagles, Oppossums, Coatis, Corvids and Humans
Strong/sharp bill, sharp claws, flight, loud calls
1-2 eggs per clutch
Average of 50 years in natural habitat; 60+ years in human care