The hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), or hyacinthine macaw, is a parrot native to central and eastern South America. With a length (from the top of its head to the tip of its long pointed tail) of about one meter it is longer than any other species of parrot. It is the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species; the flightless kakapo of New Zealand outweighs it at up to 3.5 kg. While generally easily recognized, it could be confused with the smaller Lear's macaw. Habitat loss and the trapping of wild birds for the pet trade have taken a heavy toll on their population in the wild, so the species is classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, and it is protected by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The majority of the hyacinth macaw diet is Brazil nuts, from native palms, such as acuri and bocaiuva palms. They have very strong beaks for eating the kernels of hard nuts and seeds. Their strong beaks are even able to crack coconuts, the large brazil nut pods, and macadamia nuts. The birds also boast dry, smooth tongues with a bone inside them that makes them an effective tool for tapping into fruits. The acuri nut is so hard, the parrots cannot feed on it until it has passed through the digestive system of cattle. In addition, they eat fruits and other vegetable matter. The hyacinth macaw generally eats fruits, nuts, nectar, and various kinds of seeds. Also, they travel for the ripest of foods over a vast area.
In the Pantanal, hyacinth macaws feed almost exclusively on the nuts of Acrocomia aculeata and Attalea phalerata palm trees. This behaviour was recorded by the English naturalist Henry Walter Bates in his 1863 book The Naturalist on the River Amazons, where he wrote that
It flies in pairs, and feeds on the hard nuts of several palms, but especially of the Mucuja (Acrocomia lasiospatha). These nuts, which are so hard as to be difficult to break with a heavy hammer, are crushed to a pulp by the powerful beak of this macaw.
Charles Darwin remarked on Bates's account of the species, calling it a "splendid bird" with its "enormous beak" able to feed on these palm nuts.
In captivity, the palm nuts native to the hyacinth macaw's natural habitat are often not readily available. In these circumstances the macadamia nut (which is native to Australia) is a suitable, nutritious and readily-accepted alternative. Coincidentally, the hyacinth macaw is one of the only birds with the necessary jaw strength to open the nut, which requires 300psi of pressure to crack the shell.
Pine Valley Aviary houses several breeding pairs of Hyacinth Macaws. We currently have a waiting list for our hyacinth babies. If you would like to join that list please visit our "reservation" page , just click the button below.