Entry on the Hyacinthine Macaw from Die sprechenden Papageien

by Dr. Karl RUSS. Published in Magdeburg in 1898.

Dr. Karl RussDr. Karl Russ was born in West Prussia (now part of western Poland) in January 1833, the son of an apothecary. His father owned a farm inherited from his own father, on which poultry and waterfowl were kept. Russ also kept pigeons and from an early age was taught by a local forester how to catch and prepare local wild birds. Although Russ also trained as a apothecary he suffered from a problem with his larynx, gave up practising and became deputy editor of the Bromberger Zeitung in 1862.

In 1863 he married and moved with his wife to Berlin in 1865. He became a free-lance journalist and author, writing many moving articles on nature and advice columns, particularly for women, for which he drew on his pharmaceutical knowledge. His output was rewarded with a doctorate from the University of Rostock, after which he devoted himself exclusively to ornithology, especially the practical keeping, care and breeding of cage birds as well as poultry husbandry and avian conservation.

Exotic birds started to be imported in large numbers in the fourth quarter of the 19th century. In 1879 the Hamburg bird wholesaler, Christiane Hagenbeck, imported 50,000 to 60,000 exotic birds. Her British competitor apparently exceeded this with 100,000 to 120,000 birds.

Russ set up a large aviary in his home in which he kept some 200 birds over a 16 year period. In 1891 he wrote that he had bred 92 species, with 61 being the first breeding known, in his aviary. These included 17 species of parrot.

He realised the opportunities presented for birdkeeping and founded Gefiederte Welt in 1872. From 1871 he published in several editions theHandbook for Bird Lovers, Dealers and Breeders as well as a range of other books for the aviculturist including The Speaking Parrots. He died in September 1899 soon after the death of his only son.

The German text is followed by the translation from the English language version in 1884 plus additions made in the 1898 edition.

Der hyazinthblaue Arara

(Psittacus [Sittace] hyacinthinus . Lth.)
Großer blauer Arara, Hyazinthara. - Hyacinthine Macaw - Ara Maximilien. - Groote Blauwe Ara.
Der prachtvolle Vogel mit dem gewaltigen Schnabel kann weder übersehen noch verwechselt werden; er bildet recht eigentlich ein kostbares Aushängebild für jeden zoologischen Garten. Am ganzen Körper dunkel kobaltblau, ist er am Kopf und Hals etwas heller, am Scheitel, Nacken, Flügeln und Schwanz aber dunkler; Schwingen an der Innenfahnen schwärzlich gerandet, unterseits glänzend schwarz; größte unterseitige Flügeldecken schwarz; Schwanzfedern unterseits schwarz; Schnabel schwarz, Auge schwarzbraun, Zügel befiedert, großer nackter Augenkreis und nackte Haut um den Unterschnabel orangegelb; Füße schwärzlich-braun, Krallen schwarz. Haushahngröße, doch weit länger gestreckt (Länge etwa 1 m; Flügel 36,5- 41,7 cm; längste Schwanzfedern 45,6 - 57 cm). Heimat: mittleres Brasilien. Er wurde von Latham (1790) beschrieben, und namentlich Azara hat Mittheilungen über ihn gemacht. In der Heimat selbst ziemlich selten, kommt er nur parweise oder familienweise vor. Palmennüsse sind vornehmlich seine Nahrung. Das Nest soll in Uferhöhlungen, welche er mit dem Schnabel gräbt, stehen und zwei Eier als Gelege enthalten; alljährlich sollen zwei Bruten erfolgen. Sein Fleisch soll fast ungenießbar sein, Früher gelangte er selten zu uns, in letzter Zeit häufiger. In den zoologischen Garten von London kam der erste i. J. 1867. Fräulein Hagenbeck hatte hin und wieder einen solchen Prachtvogel auf den Ausstellungen und Diekmann in Hamburg bot i. J. 1883 ein Par aus; 1893 und in den folgenden Jahren gelangte er mehrfach in den Handel. Dr. Finsch sagt, er habe zugehört, wie einer mit tiefer Baßstimme in fremder Sprache Worte murmelte; wahrscheinlich hat sich der Vogel in Liebhaberbesitz schon mehrmals sprachbegabt gezeigt, obwol nichts darüber berichtet worden. Der Preis beträgt 600 - 750 M.

English translation

Psittacus hyacinthinus, Lth.

Hyacinthine Macaw (Ger., Grosser blauer Arara, Hyazinth-Arara, oder hyazinthblauer Arara; Fr., Ara hyacinthine, Ara Maximilien; Dut., Maximilian's Ara)-Description-Habitat- Rarity.  

This magnificent bird, with its powerful beak, can neither escape notice nor be mistaken for another; it is well suited for zoological gardens. Its whole body is dark cobalt blue, lighter on the head and throat, but darker on the crown of the head, back of the neck, wings, and tail ; the quills have a blackish edge on the inner web, and are of shining black on the reverse side; the larger under coverts of the wings black; the tail feathers black on the reverse side; the beak black ; eyes blackish-brown ; the lores feathered ; the eye cere and the bare skin round the under mandible orange yellow ; the feet blackish-brown; claws black. Its size is about that of a domestic cockerel, but longer in appearance (length, about 1 m, wings 36.5 - 41.7 cm; longest tail feathers 45.6 - 57 cm). It is a native of Central Brazil. It was described by Latham in 1790, and Azara had information about it. Even in its native country it is rather rare, being found only in pairs or families. Palm nuts provide its main source of food. It is supposed to nest in hollows in river banks it excavates with its bill and lays two eggs. It is supposed to breed twice yearly. Its flesh is almost inedible. It was very scarce in Europe, but has been more common recently. In the Zoological Gardens in London it first appeared in 1867. Miss Hagenbeck has occasionally exhibited one of these splendid birds and Diekmann in Hamburg offered a pair for sale in 1883. It has been available in the trade repeatedly in 1893 and the following years. Dr. Finsch says he has heard one murmuring words of some foreign language in a deep bass voice; it is possible the bird has proved to be capable of speech in the fancy, but nothing has been reported about it. The price is between 600 and 750 Marks.

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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)