Description of the Hyacinthine Macaw

by L.J.P. VIEILLOT on page 260 of the Nouveau Dictionnaire d’Histoire naturelle pulbished in 1816

Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot (May 10, 1748 - 1831) described a large number of birds for the first time, especially those he encountered during the time he spent in the West Indies and North America, and 26 genera established by him are still in use. He was one of the first ornithologists to study changes in plumage, and also one of the first to study live birds as well as skins.

Vieillot was born in Yvetot in northern France. He was established in business on the Caribbean island of San Domingo (Haiti), but was forced to flee to the United States during the French revolution. During his time there he began studying the birds of the country and collected material for his Histoire naturelle des oiseaux de l’Amérique Septentrionale (1808).

He returned to France in 1800 (or 1801), where he obtained a post as a writer on the Bulletin des Lois. He continued to write on birds, producing Histoire naturelle et générale des colibris, oiseaux-mouches, jacamars et promerops (1802) with illustrations by his friend Jean Baptiste Audebert, followed by Histoire naturelle des plus beaux oiseaux chanteurs de la zone torride (1806).

In Analyse d’une nouvelle Ornithologie Elémentaire (1816) Vieillot set out his system of ornithological classification, which he continued in his contributions to the Nouveau Dictionaire d’Histoire Naturelle (1816-19). In 1820 Vieillot undertook the continuation of the Tableau encyclopédique et méthodique, commenced byPierre Joseph Bonnaterre in 1790. He went on to write Ornithologie Française (1823-30).

He is believed to have died in poverty, blind and virtually forgotten by his contemporaries in Rouen in 1831.

Text on Page 260

L’ARA HYACINTHE, Macrocercus hyacinthinus: Psit. hyacinthinus Lath., a deux pieds deux pouces de long; le bec noir est très-grand; la tête bleue; le corps d’un bleu foncé; les peunes alaires et caudales d’un bleu violet avec une nuance de vert sur les bords; les pieds noirâtres; l’orbite et le menton couverts d’une peau nue, de couleur jaune; la queue moitié plus courte que celle de l’ara rouge. Cette espèce est figurée dans les oiseaux du Muséum lévérian.

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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)