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Spix's Macaw

The Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) is the only member of the parrot genus Cyanopsitta. This macaw is currently believed to be extinct in the wild, but is conserved through several breeding programs. It was found in Brazil, in parts of the Brazilian state of Bahia. It has a very restricted natural habitat due to its dependence on the Caraibeira (Tabebuia caraiba) tree for nesting.

Description

Spix's Macaw is 55–57 cm (21.5–23.5 in) long. 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 black. They have a bare area of grey/black facial skin which sometimes fades to white when they are juveniles. Beak is entirely black except in juveniles which have a neat white stripe down the centre of the beak. The white beak stripe and facial skin of juveniles disappears after 1-2 years. Feet are light grey as juveniles before finishing up dark grey, almost black when adults. The eyes are dark as juveniles but fade to white as the birds mature.

History and conservation efforts

The Spix's Macaw is named after the German naturalist Johann Baptist von Spix, who discovered the species in 1817. The decline of the species is attributed to hunting and trapping of the birds, destruction of its habitat, and the introduction of the Africanized bee, which competes for nesting sites and killed breeding individuals at the nest. The last three birds were captured for trade in 1987 and 1988. A single male, paired with a female Blue-winged Macaw, was discovered at the site in 1990. A female Spix's Macaw released from captivity at the site in 1995 disappeared after seven weeks. The last wild male died at the site in October 2000. The species probably became extinct in the wild around 2000, when the last known wild bird died.

The Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA, Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources in English) established in 1990 the Permanent Committee for the Recovery of the Spix’s Macaw, called CPRAA, and its the Ararinha Azul Project (Little Blue Macaw Project) in order to conserve the species. Other participants included BirdLife International, Birds International WWF-Brazil and the American Federation of Aviculture and most of the funding came from IBAMA and the Fundación Loro Parque (Loro Parque Foundation ) of Spain. Several exchanges of birds were made between institutions and individuals for increasing the probability of breeding based on DNA analysis as part of the program. Birds International's efforts turned out to be the most successful: "Dr. Hammerli was the first aviculturist to produce young Spix's macaws in 1984, however, Antonio de Dios has had the most successful breeding results at Birds International. This collection has achieved a second generation breeding, a real breakthrough for the future survival of this species.. The committee was dissolved in 2002 due to irreconcilable differences between the parties involved. In 2004 a committee was re-formed and re-structured under the title of “The Working Group for the Recovery of the Spix’s Macaw”.

Current captive population

Currently there are approximately 120 individual Spix’s Macaws in captivity. 78 of these are participating in an international breeding program managed by the Institute Chico Mendes of Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), the Natural Heritage Branch of the Brazilian Government. 50 of these are managed at Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP), State of Qatar, which took over the population of Birds International and where a captive breeding program is guiding the Spix’s Macaw a step closer to re-establishment back to its natural habitat in Brazil.

Institutions Males Females Unknown Total
Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP), Qatar, Persian Gulf, Middle East. 21 29 0 50
Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP), Berlin, Germany. 7 5 2 14
Loro Parque Foundation (LPF), Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. 1 5 0 6
Lymington Foundation (LF) São Paulo, Brazil. 3 2 0 5
São Paulo Zoo (SPZ), São Paulo, Brazil. 2 1 0 3
Total 34 42 2 78

In the last 3 years; 16 Spix’s Macaws have been bred at Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, 4 at Loro Parque and 2 at ACTP. All chicks bred at AWWP have been hand-reared by experienced staff, since it is considered a safer option than parent-rearing and the priority at the moment is to increase the population. When the captive population is considered more secure, breeding pairs will be given the opportunity to raise some of their own young. All Spix’s Macaw chicks bred are required to be close leg banded with a uniquely coded ring and at the time of their first health check, they are also to be implanted with a micro-chip transponder.

See also

References

Further reading

  • Juniper, Tony (2003) Spix's Macaw : The Race to Save the World's Rarest Bird ISBN 0-7434-7550-X

External links

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