The largest of all parrots, the Hyacinth Macaw is a breathtaking species that grows up to 40 inches long and weighs around 2 pounds. Sometimes referred to as Hyacinthine Macaws, they are covered head to foot in deep, rich cobalt blue, with vibrant yellow eye rings and a narrow patch of yellow skin at the base of the lower beak. The undersurface of the tail and wing feathers are dark gray. The beak is gray to black and very strong, with a prominent curve and sharp point. "Wow" is the expression most people use to describe them.
The range of the Hyacinth Macaw is steadily decreasing. It is now found south of the Amazon River in central and southwestern Brazil, eastern Bolivia, and northeastern Paraguay. It lives in lightly forested areas, swamplands, open savannas, and palm groves, usually near water. They are generally found in flocks, especially at roosting time in the late afternoon.
In the wild, Hyacinth Macaws eat primarily palm nuts from the Scheelea Palm and the Atalea Palm, often those that have passed through the digestive tracts of cows, causing the outer covering to soften. They also eat clay from along the riverbanks, supposedly to help neutralize the toxins in some of the nuts they eat.
Pet birds should be fed a diet of appropriate pelleted food, some fruits and vegetables and a variety of nuts. These can include macadamia and Brazil nuts, filberts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, and coconut. They require more fat and carbohydrates, and less protein, than other parrots. Breeding birds, especially, need the higher fat content.
Cages and housing
With a wingspan of nearly 4 feet, a cage size of 5 ft. W x 6 ft. H x 3 ft. D is the absolute minimum. Allowing a full wingspan stretch helps prevent muscle atrophy. Since their beaks are stronger than those of any other bird, they are known to chew through the welds on regular metal cages easily. Heavy-duty stainless steel cages are the best choice for these birds.
Hyacinths are playful, intelligent, and avid chewers. They love puzzling toys, interlocking toys, or toys with surprise treats that have to be extracted. However, if they are not properly stimulated, they can become loud and destructive. Regular, supervised playtime outside the cage and human interaction is essential.
Their sometimes loud, demanding nature requires patience. Their cost, both upfront (average cost is $8,500) and throughout their long lifespan (up to 60 years or more), is another challenge that should be looked at carefully by anyone interested in keeping this species.
Status and breeding
Their numbers in the wild are decreasing, and their status is rare to endangered. Recent population studies estimate the number of Hyacinth Macaws in the wild to be between 4,000 to 6,000. Breeding them is very difficult, so we recommend they be kept only by expert breeders committed to increasing their population. A male and female usually pair for life.