Finding Hyacinth Macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus in the Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil

by M.J. WHITTINGHAM, A.F.BROWN, A.DREWITT and S.REES. Published in Cotinga, the journal of the Neotropical Bird Club, Issue 10, Autumn 1998 (Pages 66-67)

(Website editor: Cotinga is the journal of the Neotropical Bird Club, c/o The Lodge, Sandy, Beds SG19 2LD, U.K. It is well worth subscribing to this biannual journal. By paying a little extra subscribers in Europe, the USA and other locations outside South and Central America can sponsor a subscription for a fieldworker or scientist there. E-mail enquiries to csbalchin@bigfoot.com and the websitehttp://www.neotropical.org.)

One of the most sought-after species by ornithologists visiting South America is the Hyacinth Macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus. Formerly much more common and widespread, the cagebird trade has decimated the population and it appears likely that many more are now in captivity than occur in the wild. The species is in danger of extinction and is classified as threatened (Vulnerable/Rare).

In1996, we visited the Pantanal in Mato Grosso, Brazil, from 1-6 September. This vast wetland supports a wide variety of spectacular and rare species, and one of our main aims was to find Hyacinth Macaws. We concentrated our search almost entirely along the Transpantaneira, the road running virtually due south from Poconé to Porto Jofre. We only left the road on two occasions for short walks, each of less than two hours in duration, into the adjoining ranching/swampland area. Our most interesting observations are shown in Fig. 1.

Hyacinth Macaws were encountered at the following places: one flew parallel with the road and then perched 3m (10ft) in a palm tree near Poconé on 1 September; at least three were in an area of open fields grazed by cattle and with scattered trees between 41 and 42 km (25/26 miles) south of Poconé on 3 September; and five were in a similar open area with a few large mature trees c.98 km (approx. 62 miles) south of Poconé on 4 September. Additional records came from around Porto Jofre (see Fig. 2), where we stayed at the Pousada Tayuman from 4 - 6 September. Up to 14 Hyacinth macaws were present throughout our stay and were extremely approachable. They came to feed from buckets placed atop poles within the hotel complex. A maximum of 14 was also recorded nearby, feeding in part of a small oil-palm plantation near the Hotel Santa Rosa. The species was reported in this area in July 1988 and it seems possible that this small population has survived for some time in close proximity to humans.

We recommend Porto Jofre, and the Pousada Tayuman in particular, as an extremely good area to obtain prolonged and close views of this species. The use of plantation oil palms and farmland and the species' apparent ability to tolerate human activity may bode well for its future survival in this area.

Reference

 Collar, N.J., Gonzaga, L.P., Krabbe, N., Madroño Nieto, A., Naranjo, L.G.,Parker, T.A. & Wege D.C. (1992) Threatened Birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book, Cambridge, U.K: International Council for Bird Preservation.

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