|Aliases||Little Blue Macaw|
|Environment||Caraibeira galleries in Brazil|
|Discoverer||Johann Georg Wagler|
|Lifespan||Wild: 20 years|
Captivity: 34 years
|Reproduction||Sexual; lays eggs|
|Average Weight||Average: 300 grams (11 oz)|
Male: 318 g (11.2 oz)
Female: 288 g (10.2 oz)
|Average Length||56 cm (22"), including tail 26–38 cm (10–15")|
|Average Wingspan||24.7–30.0 cm (9.7–11.8")|
|Distinctive Features||The only blue large macaw in existence|
|Eye Color||Juveniles: Brown|
|Skin Color||Juveniles: Pale Gray|
|Feather Color||Gray-blue, pale blue, and vivid blue|
|Superfamily||Psittacoidea (True parrots)|
|Family||Psittacidae (Neotropical and Afrotropical parrots)|
|Subfamily||Arinae (Neotropical parrots)|
|Status||Extinct in the Wild|
Spix's Macaw are a medium-sized parrot and the only small blue macaw in existence. They are 56 cm (22") long including a tail length of between 26–38 cm (10–15"). Wing length lies between 24.7–30.0 cm (9.7–11.8"). Sexual dimorphism is very minimal: The two sexes are externally identical with the exception of size differences, with females being slightly smaller on average. They weigh on average around 300 grams (11 oz) with captive males weighing in about 318 g (11.2 oz) and captive females average about 288 g (10.2 oz). This makes them smaller than most of the other large macaws.
They have bare facial skin (pale gray in juveniles, gray in adults) around its lores and eyerings. The beak is entirely dark gray (in juveniles there is a white strip along the top-center of the beak along the culmen) and their irises are brown (juveniles) or yellow (adults). Their plumage is gray-blue on the head with pale blue on the underparts and vivid blue on the underparts, wings, and tail. The legs and feet are brownish-black.
The extent of their lifespan is currently set at 34 years for captive members and over 20 in wild individuals.
Spix in the wild have also shown a preference for the seeds and nuts of Pinhão (Jatropha pohliana var. mollissima) and Favela (Cnidoscolus phyllacanthus) even though these trees are colonizers and thus not indigenous to the regions, so do not represent the historical staples of the species' diet. They are also known to consume the seeds and nuts of the Angico (Anadenanthera macrocarpa), Baraúna (Schinopsis brasiliensis), Caraibeira (Tabebuia caraiba), Facheiro (Pilosocereus piauhyensis), Geoffroea spinosa, Imburana (of the Commiphora leptophloeos and Bursera leptophloeos species), Joazeiro (Ziziphus joazeiro), Maytenus rigida, Umbu (Spondias tuberosa), Unha-de-gato (Acacia paniculata), and various species of Phoradendron. Evidence suggest that Mofumbo (Combretum leprosum) may also be a possibility.
Although females can lay eggs at five years, those eggs recorded in captivity to be laid were infertile. They reach sexual maturity in captivity at 7-years-old but this is seen as late maturity caused by inbreeding among captive stocks and other artificial environmental factors as similar species of wild parrots instead reach maturity in 2-4 years.
In the wild, mating involves elaborate courtship rituals, like feeding each other and flying together. This is known to last for several seasons in other large parrots and the same may be the case in the Spix. Their mating call can best be described as the sound "whichaka". This sound is created via low rumbles in the abdomen bring the sound up to a high pitched, repeatingly short grating. They also will make squawking noises.
The pairs would make their nests in the hollows of large and mature Caraibeira trees (Tabebuia aurea) in riparian woodland galleries, and would reuse the same nest year after year. Eggs are laid in clutches between November to March in order to allow for a 25-28 day incubation performed only by females to hatch in January to coincide with the Caatinga rainy season between January and April. In the wild it is thought that they would only lay clutches of 3 eggs but in captivity they lay between 1-7 eggs with an average of 4 per clutch. Chicks will fledge in 70 days and reach independence in 100-130 days.
Distribution and habitatEdit
Spix's Macaw were known to inhabit a very restricted natural habitat: Riparian woodland galleries in the drainage basin of the Rio São Francisco within the Caatinga dry forest climate of interior northeastern Brazil due to a reliance upon Caraibeira for feeding, nesting, and roosting. They were somewhat common in Pernambuco in Bahia until the 1960s, at which point they disappeared from the area. Other former areas of their habitat included the Río São Francisco valley in northeastern Brazil, specifically the south-side river basins in the State of Bahia; as well as in the northeastern part of the State of Goiás; the southern part of the state of Maranhão; and dry interior regions of the State of Piauí in northeast Brazil.
The galleries they choose to inhabit consisted of evenly spaced, tall (8m) Caraibeira in clusters of tens per every hundred meters, interspersed with low scrub and desert cacti.
The species was first described in 1638 by German naturalist Georg Marcgrave in the State of Pernambuco, Brazil.