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Interesting Facts About the Spix's Macaw

Vijith Menon
The Spix's macaw is one of the most colorful birds found in Brazil. Sighting one would be nothing short of a miracle. This story tells you some fun and interesting facts about the pretty Spix's Macaw.

Did You Know?

The Spix's macaw was popularized in the animated movie 'Rio'.
Ornithologists were always fascinated by magnificent birds. So when they got the chance, how could they ever miss seeing the Spix's macaw? This macaw, with its magnificent plumage, has always mesmerized us with its enigmatic nature. This coloring is typical of Central and South American rainforests, with their green canopies and colorful fruits and flowers.
The species still existed in the year 2000, the next and last sighting was in 2016, and the IUCN has listed the macaw in the critically endangered list. Because of the cutting down of forests in South America, the species has since vanished.
The hyacinth, red-fronted and blue-throated macaws are seriously endangered. Hopefully, we may be more mindful of our ways and save this species.
For now, let's take a look at what makes the Spix's macaw fascinating, through the following sections.


This parrot has a dark-blue plumage fading from the bright-blue tail and wings to an ashy-blue crown. These birds are naturally blue in color, though the skin around their eyes is usually pale. There is an area of featherless skin around their eyes.
It is dependent on the Caribbean trumpet tree for nesting and perching, which are part of a unique habitat in Brazil, and found nowhere else on the Earth. The average weight of captive males is about 318 gm (11.4 oz), and for females it is about 288 gm (10.4 oz). A distinctive feature is that they have a white stripe along the center of the top beak.


These birds were more in common in Pernambuco. They resided mostly in an area filled with Caatinga trees. This macaw lived in the driest part of Caatinga, within the Caraiba or Caribbean trumpet tree galleries. There is also one confirmed site along Brigida Creek on the north shore of Rio São Francisco.


This bird has a staple diet of nuts and seeds. They are gathered from the trees around their natural habitat, namely Pinhao (Jatropha pohliana var. mollissima), Favela (Cnidoscolus phyllacanthus), Joazeiro (Ziziphus Joazeiro), Barauna (Schinopsis brasiliensis), Imburana (Commiphora leptophloeos), Facheiro (Pilosocereus piauhyensis), Carabeira (Tabebuia caraiba), Angico (Anadenanthera macrocarpa), Umbu (Spondias tuberosa), and Unha-de-gato (Acacia paniculata).

Life Cycle And Reproduction

Captive bred macaws reach sexual maturity at the age of seven, as opposed to other parrots who reach it between the age of 2 - 4. The mating process involves flying together and feeding each other, and lasts several seasons. They make their nests in large carabeira trees, and reuse it year after year.
The breeding season is from November to March. In the wild, the females lay only 3 eggs, and the incubation period is 25 - 28 days. Only the female performs incubation duties. The chicks gear up for flight in 70 days, and are independent in 100 - 130 days. The oldest bird in captivity is 34 years old, while a male living in the wild died at the age of 20.

Other Interesting Facts

  • This bird is also known as little blue macaw.
  • Typically, it could live anywhere from 20 - 30 years in the wild.
  • A female and male macaw which escaped from captivity and apparently vanished in the year 2000, inspired the movie Rio.
  • The Spix's macaw is named after German naturalist Johann Baptist von Spix.
  • The bird was already rare at the time of its discovery in 1819, because of 100 years of cutting, grazing, and burning of caatinga trees.
In conclusion, the population of this species has dwindled down to a mere few. The last of their species live in seclusion with other rare birds in a conservatory somewhere in South America. With the large advent of smugglers and collectors on the hunt, it may be too late for them, unless we cut off these illegal practices and help them sustain their habitat.