Spix's Macaw

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Common Name: Spix’s Macaw
Scientific Name: Cyanopsitta spixii

Size: 21.5-23.5 inches (55-57cm)

Habitat: South America; near the Rio São Francisco in north Bahia, Brazil.

Status: Critically Endangered (possibly Extinct In The Wild). Global Population: <50 Mature individuals. The last known individual in the wild was last seen at the end of 2000. The decline of Spix's Macaw has generally been attributed to two principal factors. First, long-term destruction of the specific gallery woodland habitat on which the species apparently depended, the result of the colonization and exploitation of the region along the Rio São Francisco corridor during more than three centuries. Secondly, trapping for the illegal live bird trade in recent decades pushed the species towards extinction. In addition, the colonization of the distributional range by introduced aggressive African bees (taking over their nest cavities), and the building of the Sobradinho hydroelectric dam above Juazeiro may have contributed, perhaps significantly, to the species's decline in the 1970s and 1980s. Direct hunting is considered a factor of minor importance in the overall decline, even though several reports of shooting are on record.

It is protected under CITES Appendix I and II and under Brazilian law. Ten years of protection, habitat restoration and a variety of on-going community conservation programs, will pave the way for future reintroductions. IBAMA established the Brazilian government's Permanent Committee for the Recovery of the Spix's Macaw and cooperation between holders of birds resulted in annual increases in the captive population. This body is succeeded by the Working Group for the Recovery of Spix's Macaw, now overseen by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio). This group is responsible for coordinating the captive breeding program and there will be on-site reintroduction facilities later followed by on-site breeding facilities. The official captive population totals 71 individuals, and important proportions of this are currently held by Al-Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP), Qatar and Loro Parque Fundación (LPF), Tenerife, Spain. Other official holders are in Brazil and Germany. Including birds not registered in the official program, up to 120 individuals are thought to exist in captivity worldwide. Successful breeding has occurred within some registered facilities, most recently in 2010 at AWWP and LPF. The latter has maintained the species since 1984 and in 2007 opened a new breeding centre for Spix's Macaws. A captive management and species recovery handbook is in preparation for this species. In February 2009 Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP) announced the purchase of the 2,200 ha Concordia Farm in Bahia state, Brazil, site of one of the last recorded sightings of wild Spix's Macaw, in October 2000. Concordia Farm was also the base of the Spix's Macaw field project, largely financed by the LPF, which operated throughout the 1990s until completion in 2002, and release site for the only captive Spix's Macaw yet to be released back into the wild, in 1995. Concordia Farm abuts the 400 ha Gangorra Farm, previously purchased by a conservation consortium. It is planned to allow both farms to return to a more natural state by removing domestic livestock, with the long term goal of the sites proving to be a valuable habitat resource for future reestablishment of a wild population.

Diet: Feeds primarily on Euphorbiaceae plant species

Breeding: It is various shades of blue, including a pale blue head, pale blue underparts, and vivid blue upperparts, wings, and tail. The underside of the wings and tail are grey/black. They have a bare area of grey/black facial skin which sometimes fades to white when they are juveniles. The beak is entirely black except for juveniles which have a white stripe down the center of the beak. The white beak stripe and facial skin of juveniles disappears after 1–2 years. The birds' feet are light grey as juveniles, then become dark grey, and are almost black as adults. The eyes are dark as juveniles but fade to white as the birds mature.

It requires gallery woodland dominated by caraiba (Tabebuia caraiba) trees for nesting, but feeds mainly on two regionally characteristic Euphorbiaceae plant species. Breeding occurs during the austral summer. Two or three eggs are laid in the wild (up to five in captivity).

Cool Facts: The Spix's Macaw is named after the German naturalist Johann Baptist von Spix, who discovered the species in 1817.

Found in Songbird ReMix Threatened, Endangered, Extinct 3

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