The hyacinth macaw is the largest flying parrot species in the world.  With its strikingly beautiful blue coat of feathers and wingspan of up to five feet, this bird is truly a marvelous spectacle.

Few people are ever lucky enough to have actually seen one, especially a hyacinth living in the wild.  Their population is concentrated in a few local areas, only consisting of about 5,000 individuals.  In fact, only THREE distinct surviving groups of hyacinth macaws have been identified.  Because they have gained popularity as pets, their numbers in the wild are being severely threatened.  For this reason, they are seldom seen in many of their former native habitats, such as northern Brazil and throughout the Amazon.

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Observing these birds in captivity is no less astonishing than observing their wild counterparts.  The hyacinth macaw has a powerful beak, which is strong enough to snap a broomstick or break apart the iron bars of its cage in short order.  This is definitely something to pay attention to, especially if there are children in the home.

However, they are often referred to as “gentle giants”.  They are extremely playful and affectionate birds, by nature, and they form a very tight bond with their caregiver.  For that same reason, they are not suitable pets for many people.  They require a much higher level of attention than many other companion bird species, and their care can become very time consuming.

The Hyacinth Macaw is so absolutely magnificent that they are known to fetch anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 each (and sometimes more).  These exorbitant fees are paid by well-meaning pet owners wishing to share their home with such a beautiful and sweet-natured creature.  However, it’s important to remember that the poachers who are overexploiting the species do not have the same good intentions.

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The United States is one of the largest markets for exotic pets, and because of that, we should act responsibly as pet owners and as people who care for the humane treatment of animals.  If you wish to own a hyacinth macaw or any other exotic species, you should always do your homework.  Ask the right questions and make sure you are comfortable with the information you are receiving.  Always ensure that you are purchasing a bird that has been bred in captivity by an experienced domestic breeder. Captive breeding for zoos and other privately funded programs may be the key to saving the species.    Do your part to avoid supporting the wild capture and smuggling of these majestic birds.

Featured Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar via Compfight cc