Hyacinth Macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus


Justification of Red List category
This species has been downlisted from Endangered because evidence suggests that it has not declined as rapidly as previously thought. The rate of population decline is nevertheless suspected to have been rapid over the past three generations, thus it is now listed as Vulnerable.

Population justification
In 2003, there were estimated to be c.6,500 individuals (equivalent to 4,300 mature individuals), of which c.5,000 were in the Pantanal (Anon 2004).

Trend justification
A rapid population decline is suspected to have taken place over the last three generations (31 years), on the basis of large scale illegal trade, habitat loss and hunting. The largest remaining population, in the Pantanal, has undergone a recovery since the 1990s, but the overall rate of decline over three generations is still suspected to have been rapid.

Distribution and population

Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus occurs in three areas of Brazil: east Amazonia (along the rios Tocantins, Xingu and Tapajós, and possibly persists in Amapá), the Gerais of Maranhão, Piauí, Bahia, Tocantins, Goiás, Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais, and in the Pantanal of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul and into eastern Bolivia (Santa Cruz), where numbers appear to increase in the dry season perhaps as birds move from Brazil (B. Hennessey in litt. 2012) and Paraguay (a small population in Concepción department [R. P. Clay in litt. 2011, N. López de Kochalka in litt. 2013, H. del Castillo in litt. 2014], with local reports from Alto Paraguay [R. P. Clay in litt. 1997], which significant fieldwork had not confirmed [R. P. Clay in litt. 2011] until the recent photo of a pair in the Cerrado area of the dry Chaco [H. del Castillo in litt. 2014]). Throughout the 1980s the species suffered major declines as an estimated 10,000 birds were illegally captured for the pet trade and widespread habitat destruction and hunting caused a further reduction in numbers (Anon. 2004). The majority of the population is now located in the Pantanal, where since 1990 the species has shown signs of a recovery and expanded its range (Pinho and Nogueira 2003, Anon. 2004), probably in response to conservation projects. Populations in east Amazonia and the Gerais have continued to decline, from an estimated 1,500 individuals in 1986 to 1,000 in 2003. The total population was estimated at 6,500 individuals in 2003, of which 5,000 were in the Pantanal (Anon. 2004) and around 200 in Bolivia (M. Herrera in litt. 2007, Pinto-Ledezma et al. 2011). According to local people, the species has increased in eastern Bolivia since the late 1990s (B. Hennessey in litt. 2012, 2014).


It occurs in várzea and savanna adjacent to tropical forest in east Amazonia, campo cerrado, caatinga and palm-stands in the Gerais, and palm-savannas in the Pantanal. It feeds mostly on the hard fruit of a few regionally endemic palm species (C. Yamashita in litt. 2000) (Scheelea phalerata and Acrocomia aculeata in the Pantanal [Antas et al. 2006]). Nesting is from July-December in large tree-cavities (primarily in Sterculia apetala in the Pantanal [Johnson 1996], and S. pruriens in Amazonia [Presti et al. 2009]) and on cliffs (in the north-east). Two eggs are usually laid, but only one chick normally fledges (C. Yamashita in litt. 2000). The Toco Toucan Ramphastos toco is responsible for dispersing 83% of the seeds of Sterculia apetala, but also consumes 53% of eggs predated (Pizo et al. 2008).


There has been massive illegal trade in the species. At least 10,000 birds were taken from the wild in the 1980s, with 50% destined for the Brazilian market (Mittermeier et al. 1990). In 1983-1984, over 2,500 were flown out of Bahía Negra, Paraguay, with an additional 600 in the late 1980s (J. Pryor in litt. 1998). Although these numbers are now much reduced, illegal trade still continues (e.g. 10 passed through a pet market in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in August 2004-July 2005, where birds were changing hands for US$ 1,000 and were destined for Peru [Herrera and Hennessey 2007]). More recently it has been noted that there appears to be almost no illegal trade in this species in Bolivia (B. Hennessey in litt. 2012) or Brazil (A. C. Lees in litt. 2015). Across its range, there is some local hunting for food and feathers. In Amazonia, there has been habitat loss for cattle-ranching and hydroelectric power schemes on the rios Tocantins and Xingu. In the Pantanal, only 5% of S. apetala trees have suitable cavities (Guedes 1993, Johnson 1996). Young trees are foraged by cattle and burnt by frequent fires (Newton 1994). The Gerais is being rapidly converted to mechanised agriculture, cattle-ranching and exotic tree plantations (Conservation International 1999). In Paraguay, the species's preferred habitats are regarded as seriously threatened (N. López de Kochalka in litt. 2013) and Paso Bravo National Park suffers from illegal logging and hunting activity (H. del Castillo in litt. 2014).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II, protected under Brazilian and Bolivian law and banned from export in all countries of origin. It is managed as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Parrot Technical Advisory Group.  Many ranch-owners in the Pantanal (and increasingly in the Gerais) no longer permit trappers on their properties. There are several long-term studies and conservation initiatives (eg. Anon 2004). At the Caiman Ecological Refuge in the Pantanal the Hyacinth Macaw Project has used artificial nests and chick management techniques and raised awareness among cattle ranchers (Anon 2004).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Study the current range, population status and extent of trading in the different parts of its range (Snyder et al. 2000). Assess the effectiveness of artificial nest-boxes (Snyder et al. 2000). Enforce legal measures preventing trade. Experiment with ecotourism at one or two sites to encourage donors (Snyder et al. 2000).


100 cm. Huge, blue macaw with yellow facial skin. Intense cobalt blue coloration with black underwings, bare yellow orbital area and lappet bordering the lower mandible. Long tail and huge bill. Immatures have shorter tail and paler yellow bare facial skin. Older adults have lighter grey or white legs. Similar spp. Lear's Macaw A. leari is much smaller and only escaped birds could occur in the range of A. hyacinthinus. Voice Loud, raucous croaking and screeching calls, less harsh than Ara, often given in pairs.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Williams, R.

Clay, R., Donegan, T., Hennessey, A., Herrera, M., López de Kochalka, N., Pryor, J., Yamashita, C. & del Castillo, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus. Downloaded from on 29/11/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/11/2023.