Entry on the Hyacinthine Macaw in Parrots and Parrot-like Birds in Aviculture

published by the Marquess of TAVISTOCK in the 1920s.

(Website biography: Hastings William Sackville Russell was born on 21st December 1888 and was to be the only child of Herbrand Russell, the second son of the 9th Duke of Bedford, and his wife Mary du Cauroy. In 1891 the 9th Duke died and shortly afterwards Herbrand's elder brother, who had succeeded as 10th Duke. As a result of Herbrand becoming the 11th Duke of Bedford, Hastings acquired the lesser family title of Marquess of Tavistock until he succeeded as 12th Duke of Bedford on the death of his father in 1940.

His father was President of the Zoological Society of London from 1899 to 1936 and his mother was a noted ornithologist, who presented several papers on the subject. She was created a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) for her work in radiography and radiology. The Duchess also remarkable in taking up flying in her sixties, accompanying an experienced pilot on flights to Europe, India and South Africa before qualifying as a pilot in 1930 at the age of 65. By Spring 1937 the Duchess, then 71, had flown solo for 199 hours and five minutes and planned to complete 200 hours with a short flight close to her home at Woburn Abbey. She failed to return and several days later pieces of wreckage from her aircraft, a Cirrus Moth, were washed up on the east coast of England near Yarmouth. It is believed she aligned her compass incorrectly, flew into some bad weather and crashed into the sea.

Hastings was a keen aviculturist and kept many parrots, including all the blue macaws except the Glaucous Macaw. In the 1920s he produced Parrots and Parrot-like Birds in Aviculture with eight plates - including one of a Hyacinthine Macaw - by Edward. J. Boosey for private circulation. He believed in keeping macaws at liberty even though the risk of them being shot was high and indeed he lost a pair of Lear's Macaws in this way. He died on 9th October, 1953.)



Distribution-Central Brazil.

Adult-Deep hyacinth blue. A patch of bare yellow skin at the base of the beak. Bill black and very large. Total length 34 inches.

The Hyacinthine Macaw is certainly one of the most remarkable of living birds, its great size, immense curved beak and wonderful garb of uniform, deep, hyacinth blue making it, if not one of the most elegant of its family, at least the most imposing. Single birds are very gentle and affectionate though, as with other Macaws and indeed most Parrots, the presence of a female companion will often make a cock Hyacinthine somewhat unfriendly towards humanity. The species is extremely hardy and, provided it escapes the miserable fate of being chained permanently by one leg to a perch, will live for a great number of years, showing itself wholly indifferent to cold in an outdoor aviary. It is unfortunately a bad stayer at liberty, even tame birds going straight off and flying for miles, being usually shot in mistake for a hawk by some idiot with a gun. In its ideas of the appearance and manners of a bird of prey, the British public has only one rival in imbecility-the domestic hen. Just as that addle-pated fowl will shriek "Hawk !" as a harmless pigeon sails over her yard, so an unornithological person with a gun who sees a brilliant blue, green, yellow or crimson bird is sure it must be a raptorial and if he should hear it screech loudly and address its intended victims in good King's English he has no further doubts on the matter!

The Hyacinthine should be fed like other Macaws and when very young benefits by being given bread and milk.

Latest News

  • Monday 6th May 2024
    Interesting articles on the keeping, breeding and development of the Lear’s macaw at ACTP Germany

    I have translated the article, which appeared in two parts in the German magazine Papageien at the beginning of 2021. The translation, which appears in Content under "The Lear’s Macaw in Aviculture" was not straight forward because of the su ... Read More »


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( If you drive out nature with a pitchfork, she will soon find a way back)

Horace (65-8 BC)