Notes on breeding the Hyacinthine Macaw

by Gerd VOLKEMER (Hubermühle, Germany). Published in the Avicultural Magazine, No.1, 1984 (Vol. 90), Page 17.

(Website note: A translation of a longer article on this subject by Gerd Volkemer, which was published in Gefiederte Welt (1/85) appears elsewhere on the website.)

A pair of these beautiful macaws was obtained in 1977 but unfortunately one died shortly afterwards. It was not until four years later that I obtained a further bird to make up the pair.

This pair was placed in an aviary measuring 4 m x 2 m x 1.5 m wide with inside quarters of 1.75 m x 2 m x 1.5 m wide. The temperature was kept slightly above freezing point during winter although these birds seem not to be sensitive to cold weather. A matchwood nest-box I m high x 50 cm x 50 cm was installed; the entrance hole was 20 cm square. Metal plating was placed around all corners of the box to prevent it from being destroyed and oak branches were placed around the entrance for the birds to chew if they wished.

Their diet consisted of various fruits, dried beef bones, a mixture of corn, oats, wheat, hemp and some smaller seeds, sunflower and peanuts. Calcium and minerals were mixed with the food and small pieces of mussel shell were also given. Every four weeks, the birds received a five-day course of multi-vitamins in their water. They also showed a fondness for small stones (1-4 mm).

At the end of May both birds adopted a defensive attitude towards their nest-box whenever the aviary was approached. The female would disappear inside before peering out and biting the oak branches surrounding the entrance, while the male stood nearby adopting an aggressive posture. Occasionally both birds would sit close, nodding their heads while holding beaks and uttering a loud "rolling" noise.

Copulation took place with both birds sitting next to each other, tails crossed with the male placing a foot on the female’s back.

The first two eggs laid disappeared after a fortnight but on 2nd June a further two were found. These measured 50 mm x 35 mm, were pure white and the weight of one was 20 grams. The female incubated for approximately 30 days (exact duration was difficult to determine because of their aggressiveness). Only one hatched. This chick produced soft noises for several weeks before going through a period of silence until it started to become very vocal.

Its eyes opened at about two weeks of age and it left the nest at three months. At this point the plumage was duller than in adults and a paler yellow around the eye.

In addition to their normal diet, sprouted oats, wheat, sunflower and corn and unripe corn-on-the-cob (maize) were also given.

In 1983 this pair reared another two young and an additional pair produced one

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 " 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)