Entry on the Hyacinthine Macaw in Parrots and Parrot-like Birds

by the Duke of BEDFORD published c. 1954.

The Most Noble Hastings William Sackville Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford, Marquess of Tavistock, Earl of Bedford, Baron Russell of Chenies, Baron Russell of Thortonhaugh in the county of Northampton, Baron Howland of Streatham in the county of Surrey, was born in Scotland on 21st December 1888. He had an early interest in aviculture as he was brought up at Woburn Abbey where his father had an extensive collection of birds and animals.  While at Oxford University he bought two pairs of Madagascar Lovebirds, which he put at liberty at Woburn. They stayed in the grounds and reared young. Later the Duke decided to specialise in parrots and before World War One he bred at complete liberty the Roseate Cockatoo and a range of parakeets including the Red Rosella, Mealy Rosella, Pennant, Adelaide , Barnard's, Redrump and later the Passerine Parrotlet and Peach-faced Lovebird. Among the finch-like birds the Duke bred at liberty were the Common Waxbill, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Avadavat, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Cordon Bleu, Lavender Finch, Diamond Sparrow, Rufous-tailed Finch, Parson Finch and Long-tailed Grass Finch.

He was a Fellow of the Zoological Society, member of the British Ornithologists' Union and a member of the Avicultural Society. He was also associated with the Avicultural Society of America and a life member of La Societé Nationale d'Acclimation de France.

The Duke died tragically in October 1953 when he went out to hunt a sparrow-hawk that was predating his flock of free-flying budgerigars and when forcing his way through some bushes stumbled and accidentally fired his gun inflicting fatal wounds.      

The book was published around 1954 with the American version being published in 1969.    

Hyacinthine Macaw

Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus

Distribution        Cantral Brazil

Adult                   Deep hyacinth blue.  A patch of  bare yellow skin at the base of the beak. Bill black and very large. Total length thirty-four inches

The Hyacinthine Macaw is certainly one of the most remarkable of living birds. Its great size, immense curved beak, and wonderful garb of uniform deep hyacinth blue make it, if not one of the most elegant of its family, at least the most imposing. Single birds are very gentle and affectionate, though as with other macaws and indeed most parrots, the presence of a female companion will often make a cock Hyacinthine somewhat unfriendly to humanity. The species is extremely hardy and provided it escapes the miserable fate of being chained permanently by one leg to a perch, will live for a great number of years, showing itself indifferent to cold in an outdoor aviary. It is unfortunately a bad stayer at liberty, even tame birds going straight off and flying for miles, being shot in mistake for a hawk.

The Hyacinthine should be fed like other macaws, and when very young benefits by being given bread and milk.

(Ed: It is no longer permitted to shoot raptors in the UK so a Hyacinthine Macaw kept at liberty now is very unlikely to be shot.)

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

Horace (65-8 BC)