Entry on the Spix's Macaw in Die Papageien, monographisch bearbeitet

by Otto FINSCH. Published 1867-8 in Leiden.

Friedrich Hermann Otto Finsch, the great German naturalist and traveller, was born in Silesia in 1839. Apprenticed as a painter on glass, he became assistant curator at the Dutch National Museum in Leiden before becoming curator of the Bremen Museum in 1864. He travelled all over the world, including expeditions to Turkestan and western Siberia in 1876, the South Seas between 1879 and 1882, the Bismarck Archipelago and New Guinea in 1884. He published accounts of birds in every part of the globe, particularly East Africa and Polynesia. (Beiträge zur Fauna Central Polynesiens (1867) and Die Vögel Ost-Afrikas in 1870), but is still chiefly remembered as a leading expert on the parrots of the world.

In 1884 he was appointed Bismarck's imperial commissioner to New Guinea, which led to the formation of German protectorates in the area. There is even a port in New Guinea - Finschshafen - still named after him although the German protectorate became an Australian responsibility at the end of the First World War. From 1905 he was head of the ethnographical department of the Municipal Museum in Brunswick. He died in 1917 aged 78.

Die Papageien, monographisch bearbeitet was produced in two volumes, bound in three parts with five hand-coloured lithographs by the author, in 1867 and 1868. In the first part section of Vol. 1 the author describes the general natural history of the birds, beginning with a historical and literary survey of the subject, followed by a treatment of the habits, geographical distribution, morphology, feathers, anatomy and systematics of parrots. The remaining part of this truly comprehensive work is devoted to the special natural history of parrots, containing a detailed synonymy and elaborate descriptions of the individual genera and species.

The original German text is followed by an English translation.

(32.) 4. Sittace Spixi, Wagl.- Spix's blauer Arara

.Sittace Spixi, Wagl., Mon.(1832) p.675.-- Arara hyacinthinus, Spix, av. Bras. I. p.25. t. 23.- Psittacus hyacinthinus, Hahn Orn. Atlas. Pap. (1834) p.40. t.25 (nach Spix). - Psittacara glauca minor, var. A. Bourj., Perr., t.15 (nach Spix). -- Arara hyacinthiacus, Brehm, Mon. d. Pap. (1842) tab.6 (nach Spix).- A r a Spixii, G. R. Gray, Gen. of B. II. No.13.- id. List Psitt.(1859) p· 50 - Macrocercus (Cyanopsitta) Spixii, Bp· Rev. et Mag. Zool.(1854) p.149.- id., Arara Spixii, Naumann. 1856.- Souan. Rev. et Mag.(1856) p.57. - Burm.,Syst. Ueb. II. p.160 (Note) Heft IV.

Diagnosis: Dunkelblau; Augenkreis, Zügel und vordere Backen nackt.
Obscure cyaneus ; annulo orbitali,1oris genisque anterioribus nudis.
Alt. Britisch-Museum. Kopf, Hals und untere Theile graublau; Ohrgegend und Stirn mehr grau. Flügel, Schwanz und alle oberen Theile dunkelblau; Schwingen und Schwanzfedern an Innenfahne schwärzlich gerandet, auf der Unterseite nebst den grössten unteren Flügeldecken mattschwarz. Schnabel horn- schwärzlich; Spitze des Oberschnabels hell. Nackter Augenkreis, Zügel und vordere Backen gelb; Iris (nach Spix) weisslich.

Durch die beinah halbmal geringere Grösse von hyacinthina leicht zu unterscheiden, ausserdem auch durch das mehr Nackte auf ZügeI und unterm Auge.

Eine höchst seltene Art und in wenigen Museen. Von Spix bei Ioazeiro am Rio Franzisco gefunden. Andere Reisende erwähnen ihn gar nicht.·

English translation

Description: Dark blue, periophthalmic ring, lores and front of cheeks bare.
Specimen in British Museum: Head, throat and lower parts greyish-blue; area around ear and forehead greyer. Wings, tail and all upper parts dark blue. Edge of inner webs to wing and tail-feathers blackish, underside next to the largest under wing-coverts dull black. Bill horn-blackish with tip of upper mandible pale. Bare periophthalmic ring, lores and front of cheeks yellow; iris whitish according to Spix.

Easy to distinguish from hyacinthina because half its size; in addition there is more bare skin to the lores and under the eye.

An exceedingly rare species and found in few museums. Discovered by Spix on the River Francisco at Joazeiro. Other travellers do not mention it at all.

Latest News

  • Tuesday 9th July 2024

    There is a short interesting article in the July 2024 issue of the German magazine "Papageien" about the setting up of a nature conservation centre for Spix’s Macaws  in the São Paulo zoo. Under the guidance of biologist Fernanda ... 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)