Did you know that the biggest type of parrot is also one of the friendliest?
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of hyacinth macaw facts, some of the most fascinating birds on the planet!
1. Hyacinth macaws are native to South America
While hyacinth macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) are native to South America, there are 3 main distinct colonies where these birds live in the world today. These include:
- The Pantanal region of Brazil, extending into eastern Bolivia and northeastern Paraguay.
- A small part of the eastern Amazon Basin of Brazil.
- The Cerrado region of the eastern interior of Brazil.
These birds prefer palm swamps, woodlands, and various areas of semi-wooded wetlands. This also means that they don’t like dense forests and usually avoid this type of habitat.
2. They truly are the largest parrots in the world
Hyacinth macaws are officially the largest parrots in the world. Measured from the tip of their tails to the top of their heads, these birds can reach a length of up to 1 meter (3.3 feet)!
Each of their wings is anywhere between 38.8 and 42.5 centimeters (15.3–16.7 inches) long as well.
3. One strange type of flightless parrot can outweigh hyacinth macaws
Perhaps one of the most remarkable hyacinth macaw facts is that even though these birds are the largest parrots in the world, they aren’t the heaviest!
They weigh anywhere between 1.2 and 1.7 kilos (2.6 and 3.7 lbs) which means they are outweighed by a distance by the peculiar kakapo, also referred to as an “owl parrot,” a ground-dwelling parrot living in New Zeland.
These are pretty fascinating creatures as well, don’t you think?
4. They are completely blue except for 2 areas
Hyacinth macaws are completely blue with a bit lighter shade of blue on the upper part of their bodies. They only have some bright yellow parts located around their eyes and a small area just below their beak.
Another parrot of the same family called the “Lear’s macaw” pretty much looks the same but is much smaller in size, which is the main way to recognize them.
5. They mostly eat nuts and fruits
These birds mostly feet on Brazil nuts growing on native pals, including those of the mucuja, acuri, and bocaiuva palms. They also feed on a variety of fruits, nectar, and seeds.
One of the astounding hyacinth macaw facts is that some of the nuts they devour have already been eaten by cattle or wild animals. You surely know what that means!
6. They are quite particular when it comes to the fruit they eat
If they can’t find a tree full of delicious and ripe fruit, they don’t mind flying a long way to find the perfect dinner. This means that they won’t settle with just any tree and the fruit has to be just right.
Quite amazing if you think of how they eat some of the nuts, right?
7. They have extremely powerful beaks and a bony tongue
To devour some of the nuts they eat they have to have the perfect tools to crack it open. Luckily for them, they are equipped with some of the most powerful beaks on the planet!
Their beaks are so strong that they are even to crack coconuts, the large Brazil nut pods, and macadamia nuts!
8. Some of the nuts they eat are even hard to break with a huge hammer
Their powerful beaks were already one of the most remarkable features for the people studying these remarkable creatures in the 19th century. English naturalist Henry Walter Bates wrote about it in his book which was published in 1863 called “The Naturalist on the River Amazons,” and mentioned:
It flies in pairs, and feeds on the hard nuts of several palms, but especially of the Mucuja (Acrocomia lasiospatha). These nuts, which are so hard as to be difficult to break with a heavy hammer, are crushed to a pulp by the powerful beak of this macaw.Quote from Bates’ book.
9. They require a particular type of tree to reproduce
One of the most fascinating hyacinth macaw facts is that they aren’t just very picky with the fruit they eat, but also with finding a place to nest, something that happens between July and December.
They can spend a long time finding the perfect hole in the “manduvi tree,” their most favorite spot to make their nest and lay eggs.
A remarkable twist in this story is that they depend on the Toucan to disperse the seeds of the manduvi tree, while this is the exact bird that preys on the eggs of the hyacinth macaw.
You couldn’t make this up even if you tried!
10. They lay more eggs than they can provide food for
A remarkable type of behavior of the hyacinth macaw is that they lay up to 2 eggs, while they can only feed 1 chick. Nobody knows exactly why they do this, but the most common theory is that this is an “insurance” to compensate in case the first egg doesn’t hatch or the first chick doesn’t survive.
This also means that the first chick always survives as it’s the winner in the battle for food, being born several days earlier.
Pretty brutal for the second chick!
11. The male stays with his partner during the incubation period
The female lays the eggs and the male will loyally keep the female company during the incubation period, which usually lasts about a month.
The chick will leave the nest for the first time at around 110 days and will remain dependent on its parents for up to 6 months. After that, it goes its own way!
At age 7, these birds are mature and start breeding.
12. Hyacinth macaws are referred to as “gentle giants”
Even though these are the largest parrots on the planet, they are also some of the calmest and relaxed birds around, making them a great companion for human beings.
Because of this, these huge parrots are referred to as “gentle giants,” an absolutely fitting nickname!
13. They are considered to be an endangered species
Unfortunately, hyacinth macaws are considered to be an endangered species and are listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.
The fact that they make such great pets is also the reason the illegal pet trading was started which severely limited their numbers. This in combination with habitat loss has resulted in just 3 colonies of these birds remaining in their natural habitat, totaling a population of about 4,300 individuals.
A lot of steps have been taken to preserve these animals because most of the dangers for these birds revolve around human activity. Therefore, they are protected by law in Brazil and Bolivia.
14. The population of hyacinth macaws in captivity is growing
Even though breeding hyacinth macaws in captivity has proven to be quite complicated, a lot of progress has been made in this field and the numbers of individuals in zoos and nature parks all around the world are actually rising.
Some of the main obstacles are the recreation of the breeding habitat of these birds and the high mortality rate of chicks during the first few months.
Because so much progress is being made, it ensures that the prognosis of these creatures going extinct is extremely slim, which is amazing news altogether!