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

  • Thursday 8th February 2018
    Good news on the Spix's Macaw

    The Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP), the breeding centre based near Berlin in Germany, had another very successful; breeding year with the Spix's Macaw in 2017. Two pairs produced 9 young, all of whom were hand-reared ... 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)