Entry on the Spix's Macaw in Parrots and Parrot-like Birds in Aviculture

published by the Marquess of TAVISTOCK in the 1920s.

(Website biography: Hastings William Sackville Russell was born on 21st December 1888 and was to be the only child of Herbrand Russell, the second son of the 9th Duke of Bedford, and his wife Mary du Cauroy. In 1891 the 9th Duke died and shortly afterwards Herbrand's elder brother, who had succeeded as 10th Duke. As a result of Herbrand becoming the 11th Duke of Bedford, Hastings acquired the lesser family title of Marquess of Tavistock until he succeeded as 12th Duke of Bedford on the death of his father in 1940.

His father was President of the Zoological Society of London from 1899 to 1936 and his mother was a noted ornithologist, who presented several papers on the subject. She was created a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) for her work in radiography and radiology. The Duchess also remarkable in taking up flying in her sixties, accompanying an experienced pilot on flights to Europe, India and South Africa before qualifying as a pilot in 1930 at the age of 65. By Spring 1937 the Duchess, then 71, had flown solo for 199 hours and five minutes and planned to complete 200 hours with a short flight close to her home at Woburn Abbey. She failed to return and several days later pieces of wreckage from her aircraft, a Cirrus Moth, were washed up on the east coast of England near Yarmouth. It is believed she aligned her compass incorrectly, flew into some bad weather and crashed into the sea.

Hastings was a keen aviculturist and kept many parrots, including all the blue macaws except the Glaucous Macaw. In the 1920s he produced Parrots and Parrot-like Birds in Aviculture with eight plates - including one of a Hyacinthine Macaw - by Edward. J. Boosey for private circulation. He believed in keeping macaws at liberty even though the risk of them being shot was high and indeed he lost

 a pair of Lear's Macaws in this way. He died on 9th October, 1953.)



Adult-Dark blue: head and neck silvery greyish blue, the paler tinge continuing to some extent on the breast and tips of the feathers of the mantle. Bill black. Total length 22 inches. Size about that of the Alexandrine Parrakeet.

This rather attractive little blue Macaw was formerly extremely rare, but a few have been brought over during recent years. It is not noisy, is easily tamed and sometimes makes a fair talker. There seems to be little information as to its ability to stand cold or as to its behaviour in mixed company, but it is probably neither delicate nor spiteful. It should be kept in an aviary or birdroom and fed like the Blue-fronted Amazon. The female is said to be a little smaller than the male, with a narrower and smaller beak and shorter terminal hook.

In the living bird the feathers of the head and neck stand out in a carious fashion, giving a peculiar and distinctive appearance.

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)