Entry on the Spix's Macaw in The Parrots of South America

(Page 45) by Rosemary LOW published in London in 1972.

SPIX'S MACAW (A.(Cyanopsitta) spixii)

Description: A soft shade of cobalt blue, greyish on the head and neck, even more so on the forehead and ear-coverts. Most of the feathers of the upper surface have pale grey margins. The upper part of the breast is tinged with brownish-grey and the underparts are dull greenish-blue. The inner webs of the flights are blackish, also the underside of the tail. The bill is black. Length: about 22in.

This is a very distinctive macaw which cannot be confused with any other. Salvadori considered that it should be placed in the separate genus, Cyanopsitta; certainly, in appearance, it is nearer the Anodorhynchus macaws than those of the genus Ara. It resembles neither genus in having a comparatively small beak and in erecting often the greyish, elongated feathers of the head and neck. It is better proportioned than most macaws, having a long tail and a less prominent head, due to the smaller beak.

Distribution: Eastern Brazil in the states of Piauhy (Parnagua) and Bahia (Joazeiro). Nothing seems to have been recorded about this macaw in the wild. After Spix's discovery of it there was no record of a further sighting until 1903*, over 100 years later. Excluding the island Amazons, it must be one of the rarest of all the parrots from Central and South America.

Remarks: An extreme rarity in aviculture. There was a pair at Paignton Zoo in 1927 and three years earlier Mrs. Dalton Burgess recorded that her single specimen had laid an egg. At the present time there is one pair in Ireland, which was originally brought from Brazil for the World Show of the IOA in Rotterdam in 1965. In 1971 eggs were laid by the female.

The Spix's which belonged to Karl Plath in the USA could speak quite distinctly in a feminine voice and was able to repeat several sentences. It was described as being lovable and tame, rarely nipped, and squawked only occasionally and in a voice less harsh than the larger macaws. This bird was received in February 1928 and met an untimely end in March 1946 when attacked by two Amazon Parrots with which it was temporarily housed.

(*Website editor: Rosemary is referring to the report by Othmar Reiser published in 1926 about the 1903 expedition.).

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)