Entry on the Hyacinthine Macaw from The Royal Natural History (Vol. IV - pages 113-4)

edited by Richard LYDEKKER and published in 1895.

(Website editor: I found this work with its numerous wonderful plates and engravings in a bookshop in Greenwich, London and bought it for £ 15 ($22.50). The information is somewhat muddled, but is well worth looking at for the illustrations alone.)

From their large size, the length of their tails, and the gorgeous tints of blue, red, and yellow adorning their plumage, the macaws are the most showy and conspicuous of all the parrots ; but they have the disadvantage of being the most noisy of the whole confraternity, and are therefore far from desirable in the house, By many writers the whole of them are included in a single genus, but Count.Salvadori considers that they may be divided into three generic groups. The hyacinthine macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), from Central Brazil, of which a figure is given on the left side of our coloured Plate, is the best known representative of a small genus, characterised by the general colour of the plumage being blue both above and below, while the lores are feathered. In the figured species the whole plumage is of a nearly uniform cobalt-blue, becoming a little lighter on the head and neck, and somewhat duller below, while the under surface of the wings, and tail is black. In marked contrast to the prevailing azure, stands out the yellow of the naked skin surrounding the eye and at the base of the lower jaw. The black beak is of unusually large size even for a macaw, and the feet are blackish. The total length of this fine bird is about 34 inches, of which 201/2 are taken up by the tail. The hyacinthine macaw is a somewhat rare species, and although inhabiting the dense tropical forests affected by the other macaws, it is said by Azara to differ markedly in regard to its breeding habits. In place of building in some hollow tree, it is stated to scoop out a burrow on the bank of a river, where it lays a pair of eggs; two broods being reared in a season. These birds - the ararauna of the natives, fly, according to Bates, in pairs, and feed on palm-nuts, which, although so hard as to be difficult to break with a heavy hammer, are crushed to pulp by their beaks. The skulls of the hyacinthine macaw and its congeners differ from those of ordinary macaws in the incompleteness of the bony ring round the eye. The same feature is probably also characteristic of Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsittacus spixi), which although agreeing with the ararauna in its blue coloration, differs by the naked lore, on which account it is regarded as representing a distinct genus.

Latest News

  • Saturday 23rd March 2024
    More welcome news about the Spix’s macaws in the wild

    Welcome news about the re-introduced Spix’s macaw. Last weekend the field staff in Brazil were monitoring nest boxes and discovered a pair with three newly-hatched chicks. They took video footage and this is available on the ACTP website

    ... Read More »


 " 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)