Breeding Hyacinthine Macaws Anodorhynchus hyacinthinusLatham

by Dr. B. DUBS. Published in " Gefiederte Welt" (Issue 1/85 P. 7)

Statement by editor of "Gefiederte Welt"
As introduction to the report by Gerd Volkemer on breeding Hyacinthine Macaws in aviculture we have included a report by Dr. B.Dubs, the Swiss veterinarian, on his direct observations in the southern Mato Grosso, Brazil, which appeared in his highly interesting book " Birds of the southern Mato Grosso".

Every enthusiastic fan of the Hyacinthine Macaw, who has only ever seen them in zoos, will understand how delighted I was to see a dozen of these magnificent parrots sitting in the grass under a palm feeding on fallen palm nuts when I visited the Miranda Estancia in February 1982. I was also able to observe a flock several times at the Fazenda Barranco on the Rio Negro. Even within the flock there is clear pair bonding. Mostly they sit together, but if one flies off, it is usually not long before the other follows. By September these groups seemed to have broken up. I only encountered pairs on the Fazenda Salina.

Ranch hands engaged in clearing woodland told me they had found the nest of Hyacinthine Macaws. As even Forshaw (1973) had given no information on the reproduction of the Hyacinthine Macaw, I naturally wanted to find out more. I was taken to a large tree, which had been left standing. On the west side of the trunk at a height of between 6 and 8 metres there was a rather large circular hole. I seemed to close to achieving my aim.

Over the next few days I often observed the macaws at the nest site. Mostly they perched for a few hours on a neighbouring tree and one of them flew a few times to the nest-hole and glided in. However it left again after a few moments to return to its waiting partner. I even observed them copulating on September 12th in the afternoon.

The two macaws sat beside each other on the branch and preened each other with their bills. Then they took up another position. They sat with their body length at an angle of 70º to each other . Both birds lifted their long tails high, turned outwards and pressed their rumps together. They remained in this position for a short period of time.

Unfortunately I did not see the macaws again after that. Perhaps they were disturbed by my presence or by the clearance work. It was however more likely that they were still preparing to bred and had not yet finally decided to use that nest-hole. I noticed during the same period that the Green-winged Macaws Ara chloroptera were also similarly undecided in their behaviour.

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 " Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret "

( If you drive out nature with a pitchfork, she will soon find a way back)

Horace (65-8 BC)