Extract on Spix's Macaw from The Current Distribution and Status of Mainland Neotropical Parrots

by Robert S. RIDGELY published in Conservation of New World Parrots (Pages 241-2), the Proceedings of the ICBP Parrot Working Group Meeting on St. Lucia in 1980.

(Website editor: I acquired these Proceedings from a book stall at the Parrot Society show at Sandown earlier this month (April 2000). They are interesting in providing a very concise exposition of the level of knowledge on the Blue Macaws at the time.)  

Spix's ( Little Blue) Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii)

Range: Restricted to interior northeastern Brazil, where it is known from a small area in southern Piaui, extreme southern Maranhao (several captives reported taken in1977 - H, Sick, pers, comm.), northeastern Goias (reported by hunters to H. Sick and myself in 1977), and northwestern Bahia. The species occurs locally and apparently also erratically in this limited range, Little has been recorded about it, and it remains one of the least known neotropical parrots.

Habitat: The Spix's Macaw evidently favors stands of buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa), which grow locally in this region in swampy or seasonally wet areas. It also forages into adjacent deciduous woodland and caatinga.

Status: The Spix's Macaw is a rare species, whose total population must be very small, and yet there is no available evidence indicating a recent decline in numbers. The region where it is found is remote, with most of it extremely difficult of access and at most sparsely inhabited. Furthermore, the Spix's Macaw preferred habitat, buriti palm swamps, is usually left undisturbed even in areas where a few people do live, as the terrain is unsuitable for agriculture and the palm usable only for thatching.

The Spix's Macaw has always been a great rarity in aviculture, surely a result of the difficulty in procuring specimens. Even so it is probably the activities of local trappers that are the gravest threat to this rare macaw; some trappers are very much aware of its potential value. Extremely few are in captivity even in Brazil, and now almost none abroad. Any being offered for sale have almost certainly been smuggled out of Brazil and re-exported; dealers in Paraguay told me in 1977 that given sufficient time (and a substantial deposit) they could obtain specimens for me, and had in the recent past.

Summary: Rare. A poorly known species whose recent population may always have been small; there is no evidence of a recent reduction in numbers or contraction in range, but a thorough study of the current situation would be worthwhile. The species is vulnerable to the activities of bird trappers. Accorded "vulnerable" status in the Red Data Book (King 1979). Listed on Appendix I of CITES.

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)