Entry on the Hyacinthine Macaw in Parrots, Cockatoos and Macaws

(Page 146) by Edward. J.BOOSEY published in 1956.

(Website biographical information: Edward. J.Boosey founded the Keston Foreign Bird Farm in Kent, England with Alec Brooksbank in 1927, which became famous for its extensive breeding stock of parrots and parakeets, especially cockatoos and macaws and he was regarded as the leading authority in the breeding of the latter. At the time the above book was published he was Vice-President of the Avicultural Society and a regular contributor to the Society's magazine as well as other avicultural publications. He worked closely with Hastings Russell, the then Marquess of Tavistock and later 12th Duke of Bedford, and produced the eight plates published in Tavistock's Parrots and Parrot-like Birds in Aviculture in the 1920s, including one of a Hyacinthine Macaw.

HYACINTHINE MACAW

(Anodorhyncus (sic) hyacinthinus)

Of a very splendid family, I always think this bird is perhaps the most imposing of them all.

It is of a uniform rich hyacinth blue, deepest on the wings and tail, with a patch of bare yellow skin at the base of the lower mandible and another encircling the eye. The beak is black, and enormous even for the size of the bird. It is indeed so large that it is the one feature which slightly mars the bird's appearance, giving its head a somewhat top-heavy look. Even so, however, it is a truly magnificent creature.

I believe the plumage is alike in both sexes.
Total length: about 34 inches.
Habitat: central Brazil.

I have never kept one of these macaws, but single tame specimens have the reputation of being both gentle and affectionate. I was once photographed at the London Zoo with a Hyacinthine sitting on my shoulder, and while waiting for the click of the camera I tried to concentrate my thoughts on the gentleness of the species, particularly as its beak was almost touching my ear and both were roughly the same size! It behaved, however, very well indeed and proved to be quite as gentle as I had previously been assured it was, and in the end I longed to take it home with me and put it in a large aviary, partly as a reward for having left me with both ears intact.

Being so large and also expensive, the Hyacinthine Macaw is almost exclusively a zoo bird, being very seldom found in private collections or owned singly as a pet. The reason for this is no doubt the difficulty of providing suitable accommodation. The larger macaws are much too big for a parrot-cage and so are usually kept chained to a parrot stand in the familiar zoo fashion. Certainly, kept thus they often appear to be in quite good health and condition - probably because, unlike most zoo parrots and cockatoos, they are put out of doors in the summer- but I myself would not want to keep them at all unless I could afford to provide them with an aviary which would withstand their powerful beaks, or alternatively a specially made cage in which they would have plenty of room to move about. It must be stressed, however, that although I personally don't like keeping a bird chained to a stand, it is the way the larger macaws usually are kept and they will live for a great many years and also retain their health under such conditions. This again depends largely upon the amount of care and affection that is bestowed upon them, and how often they are let off the chain to sit on their owner's shoulder or climb down the central supporting leg of the stand.

Hyacinthine Macaws are extremely hardy creatures, by which I mean that they are indifferent to cold though not of course to draughts.

Their feeding does not differ from that of the other members of the family and they can, of course, crack open Brazil nuts with ease.

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