Justification of Red List Category
This species was last recorded in the 1960s and it is likely to have declined severely as a result of hunting and trapping, plus habitat degradation and destruction. However, it may well remain extant, because not all of its formerly large range has been adequately surveyed, and there have been persistent and convincing local reports. Any remaining population is likely to be tiny, and for these reasons it is treated as Critically Endangered.
Any remaining population is assumed to be tiny (numbering fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals) based on the lack of confirmed records since the 1960s.
Anodorhynchus glaucus was formerly widespread but clearly very local in north Argentina, south Paraguay, north-east Uruguay and Brazil from Paraná state southwards. It was endemic to the middle reaches of the major rivers (Uruguay, Paraná and Paraguay) and adjacent areas, with most records coming from Corrientes, Argentina. It became rare before or early in the second half of the 19th century and there were only two acceptable records in the 20th century, one direct observation (in Uruguay in 1951) and one based on local reports (in Paraná in the early 1960s). Whilst it has been generally treated as extinct, persistent rumours of recent sightings, local reports and birds in trade indicate that a few birds may still survive.
It was reported mostly along major rivers, but this may reflect travellers' dependence on river transport rather than the species's true habitat requirements. It appears to have been adapted to consume palm nuts as its staple, and therefore presumably wandered into palm-savannas and potentially lightly wooded areas. The only palm in its range with the appropriate size and type of nut is the Yatay (or Chatay) palm Butia yatay (Yamashita and Valle 1993). It nested and roosted on cliffs and the average clutch-size was probably two eggs (Collar et al. 2014).
Settlement of the major river basins within its range was presumably accompanied by the widespread loss of palm-groves, either through direct clearance for agriculture or the suppression of regeneration by colonists' cattle. Yatay palm, which the species probably fed on, was targeted for clearance by early colonists as it is an indicator of good soil quality (Collar et al. 2014). Widespread loss of gallery forests could also have had an impact on the species (Collar et al. 2014). The size and appearance of the bird probably made it a significant target for hunters, and even the taking of young as pets could have been important. There is some evidence that it was traded, but little to support various claims that there has been recent trade in live specimens. Any current trade in eggs, skins or live specimens would obviously be extremely harmful.
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and protected under Brazilian law. There have been various attempts (so far unsuccessful) to rediscover the species. There are ongoing funding proposals to attempt to finance a programme of work aimed at confirming this species's presence in the wild.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct interviews with local people, especially former and active parrot trappers, to assess the likelihood that any populations remain. Prepare to follow-up on any positive data from these interviews.
70 cm. Large blue macaw. Pale turquoise-blue with large greyish head. Proportionally long tail and massive bill. Yellow, bare eye-ring and half-moon-shaped lappets bordering mandible. Similar spp. Lear's Macaw A. leari has a bluer head and is not sympatric, but specimens in trade could be confused. Hyacinth Macaw A. hyacinthinus is considerably larger and bulkier, more violet-blue in colouration and yellow lappets extend along the base of the mandible. Also not sympatric. Voice Unknown.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Clay, R., Sharpe, C J & Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Anodorhynchus glaucus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/01/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/01/2019.