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Hyacinth Macaw

 (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)
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© Jamie Gilardi

Project Status: Active | early 1990s - current


Fundacion Noel Kempff Mercado, Vogelpark Avifauna, Berlin Zoo, Folke H. Peterson Foundation

Macaw research ongoing in Bolivia

Numbers of wild Hyacinth Macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) had declined over several decades due to heavy illegal trade, local hunting for food and feathers, and habitat loss. More recently the population numbers have become more stable and are gradually growing.

Progress and outcomes: WPT established the Hyacinth Fund in 1990 to help researchers protect remaining Hyacinth Macaw populations. In 2008, WPT funded a study to learn the characteristics of the vegetation found in the areas where the species nests, and to obtain information on the illegal trafficking of this species. WPT has also supported fieldwork that includes the construction of aviaries, hiring a part-time keeper, and providing veterinary care, food, and enrichment for confiscated birds being prepared for release into the wild.

Focus of future work: In 2017 The Hyacinth Macaw Program, an alliance between the WPT and local and international organisations, began in the San Matías Protected Area, Santa Cruz Department, Bolivia. The macaw population in this part of Bolivia is stable but small, with principal threats to its survival being habitat loss and trapping for the wild bird trade. The team has begun to quantify levels of habitat degradation in the different habitat types, monitor population size, trend and annual recruitment (fledglings surviving to adults), assess availability of nest cavities and abundance of food resources as potential factors limiting recovery, and monitor breeding to identify causes of failure and develop measures to increase success. In 2017-18 the team monitored 42 nest sites, and are using motion-detecting trail cameras in cavities to evaluate the chicks’ development and survival. To ensure the ongoing protection of these birds, the team also began working with local communities to encourage education and ecotourism opportunities.

With your help we can better understand and prevent the threats facing these macaws.

IUCN/CITES Status: Vulnerable / Appendix I

Wild population: 6500

Where found: Three isolated groups are in C South America: NE Brazil, central E Brazil, S central Brazil to Bolivia and N Paraguay.

History: The Hyacinth Macaw, Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus, can still be found in three areas of Brazil: E Amazonia, the Gerais of Maranhão, Piauí, Bahia, Tocantins, Goiás, Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais, and in the Pantanal of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul.  There have been local reports in E Bolivia (Santa Cruz), and Paraguay (Concepción, with local reports from Alto Paraguay [R. P. Clay in litt. 1997].  During the 1980s the species’ population suffered because of illegal capture for the pet trade and widespread habitat destruction. Hunting caused a further reduction in numbers (Anon. 2004). Most of the population is now located in the Pantanal. There are population declines in E Amazonia and the Gerais, from an estimated 1,500 individuals in 1986 to 1,000 in 2003.  Five thousand individuals remain in the Pantanal.


  • Heavy illegal trade in wild-caught parrots
  • Local hunting for food and feathers
  • Habitat loss from hydroelectric projects and cattle ranching

Ecology: The Hyacinth Macaw is found in areas rich in nut-bearing species of trees and shrubs, but in Amazonian Brazil avoids continuous humid forest. In dry areas it inhabits plateau country with rocky, steep valleys with deciduous woodland, gallery forest and Mauritia palm swamp. This macaw is also seen in the pantanal region in gallery forest with palm groves.  These birds are generally seen in pairs, family groups or small flocks of up to 10. They are noisy and conspicuous while foraging; favourite food items include the nuts of various palms, different fruits and the occasional mollusk.

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