Thought extinct before 1992, the blue-throated macaw has been seen in larger numbers on the Barba Azul Nature Reserve in Bolivia! BirdLife, (or Asociación Armonía), is credited with growing the numbers of blue-throated Macaws, by providing special bird boxes in the clefts of trees, and enlisting the help of local ranchers.
Tjalle Boorsma, the reserve co-ordinator, reported seeing flocks of 15 to 20 of the birds, and then realizing that their efforts were bearing fruit. The blue-throated macaw is listed as critically endangered and is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature, (ICUN), Red List. Only 36 blue-throated macaws were counted in 1998, and now their numbers are thought to have grown to approximately 300 to 450 birds. Twelve chicks were raised through Barba Azul programs in 2018-2019, and more recently 81 juveniles have been seen.
The Barba Azul Nature Reserve in 2008 was born in 2008, when over 11,000 acres of land was purchased by the American Bird Conservancy, and the Rainforest Trust, (previously called the World Land Trust).
The factors leading to a rapid decline in the number of birds in the wild include: poaching, ranching, the burning of fields, and the felling of palm trees, (which the bird favors); as well as the use of their feathers by Bolivian natives in their traditional headdresses.
Blue-Throated Macaws are approximately 3 feet long, (or 100 cm), including tailfeathers. An adult can weigh about 1,000 g or 39 oz, and their wingspan is about three feet, or just less than one metre. The lower half of the bird is bright yellow, while the upper half is turquoise.
Macaws are different from parrots. They have a patch of bare skin on their faces starting from the bottom of their beaks. Their tails are long, graduated, and rather lush. Macaws can be taught to speak with a limited vocabulary, and are known to make certain tools. Chewed pieces of leaves or wood are sometimes used to maneuver nuts that are partially broken, or to hold them still.
Hyacinth Macaws also vulnerable
The Hyacinth Macaw is the largest of the Macaws. It is mainly blue, except for patches of yellow around their eyes and beaks. It is highly prized by poachers, because of its reputation as a “gentle giant”. Captivity, however, can make them neurotic. Their powerful beaks can crack coconuts, and their bite has been measured at 300 psi. It is not wise to put one’s hands too close, even if a bird is trained not to bite.
Blue-throated macaws are found in Northern Bolivia, while Hyacinth Macaws have a somewhat greater range. They are found in Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
The ICUN lists the Hyacinth Macaw as vulnerable. Approximately 10,000 birds were removed from the wild in the 1980s by poachers. Despite the fact that removing macaws from the wild was banned in 1984 in Bolivia, officials hesitate to take on the macaw-poaching gangs, in larger cities.