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Jasper: Male, captive hatched around 1985.
Babe: Female, captive hatched October 16, 1992.
Both were donated to the Zoo by a private breeder on April 13, 2000.
Aviary by Bird Lake. Weather dependent.
This is the largest of the parrots with a deep violet blue color and bright yellow cheek patches. The male and female look alike. They occupy well forested habitat primarily where they have access to plenty of palm nuts. Their characteristic hooked parrot beak is the strongest of the parrots making it easy for them to break the hard shells of palm nuts, Brazil nuts and other very hard nuts.
The lifespan of the hyacinth macaw in the wild is not known. In captivity, average longevity is around 25 years of age but they can live into their 40’s. Because hyacinth macaws can be long lived this is one of the reasons the Philadelphia Zoo’s Best Bets for Pets recommends that only advanced hobbyists or professionals consider keeping one as a pet (they can also be very destructive and extremely loud!).
Commonly, Hyacinth macaws are found in pairs or family groups (pair plus one or two still dependent offspring). They will form groups that can exceed 20 birds when they are foraging. Hyacinth macaws have a very clever way of saving time opening up palm nuts when foraging in the wild. Getting through the outer fibrous layer of the palm nut can be time consuming and this part is not edible to macaws. Some of the local rodent species do like to eat these outer layers but leave the hard shell covering the nut intact. Hyacinth macaws will drop the whole palm nuts on the ground and come back later when the husks have been removed by other animals and eat the nutritious nut inside once they have cracked the hard shell.
Hyacinth macaws are monogamous birds like most of the parrots. In the wild, they typically nest during the wet season but a pair will rarely attempt to breed every year. Eggs are laid in a tree cavity, hatching out 25 to 28 days after they are laid. A typical clutch contains 2 eggs although often only one chick survives to fledging. The young fledge from the nest about 15 weeks after hatching but remain dependant on the parents for over a year. Hyacinth macaws typically reach breeding age at about 8 years of age.
The body length averages about 39 inches.
Weights range from 3-4 pounds with males often weighing more than females.
Hyacinth macaws have extremely strong beaks designed for cracking the shells of very hard nuts. In the wild these birds feed primarily on a variety of palm nuts but their diet also includes fruit and other vegetable matter. At the Zoo, the base diet of the macaws is a commercial biscuit formulated specifically for large parrots and macadamia nuts in the shell. Their diet also can include a variety of other nuts and fruit, which are offered at the discretion of the keepers responsible for the birds for training and enrichment.
North to South central Brazil, NW Paraguay and Eastern Bolivia. Used to be much more widespread.
On the 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the hyacinth macaw is listed as Endangered.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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