Spix's Macaw

9/20/20

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Spix's Macaw

The Spix’s macaw, or Cyanopsitta spixii, is one of the many extremely endangered parrots in the world, possibly the most endangered. In 1990, what was thought to be the last Spix’s macaw was found, living with another type of parrot, called an Illiger’s Macaw, or Primolius maracana. In 2000, the last wild Spix’s macaw died in the town of Curaçá, Bahia in Brazil and the Spix’s macaw was declared extinct in the wild. The Spix’s Macaw is the smallest of the blue macaws. It is also the macaw that the film “Rio” featured. When the Spix’s macaw still lived in the wild, it was endemic to Brazil. Now there are about 180 Spix’s macaw left in captivity. On March 3, 2020, 52 of these parrots were moved to Bahia, Brazil. They will slowly be adapted into their natural habitat and hopefully be home by 2021. However, the founder, Martin Guth, of the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, which is in charge of bringing these birds back into the wild, has been accused of being privately involved in the illegal pet trade and wildlife trafficking because of lack of transparency of where they’re getting their money, alleged “pressure” to give parrot chicks to the ACTP, and removal of birds from the wild for unexplained reasons. There are petitions to investigate the origin of the ACTP. However, hopefully the birds will be brought back regardless.

Why Are They Endangered?

Even around the 1950s the Spix’s macaw was extremely endangered and considered extinct in the wild until 1986, when three birds were spotted in Curaça. Then, in 2000, the species was declared extinct in the wild once again. The reasons for the Spix’s macaws decline is mostly illegal wildlife trafficking, and destruction of their native habitat. One really big reason that the Spix’s macaw is endangered is that they were illegally taken and sold to fill the demand for rare exotic pets. Another reason they’re endangered are the human influences such as deforestation for agriculture and development that shrink the habitat of Spix’s macaws and also make it easier for pet traders to capture them. Because they have been endangered for so long, not much is known about the Spix’s macaw. There have been a few sightings of Spix’s macaws that brought hope that maybe there are still birds in the wild, but these have mostly been identified as escapees from captivity. 

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Image Courtesy of the ACTP

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Image Courtesy of the ACTP

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Effects

The forests that have been cut down, which contributed to the decline of the Spix’s macaw, also affected lots of other animals and plants, who al depend on each other and also the forest. When the forest is cut down for agriculture or an animal becomes extinct it affects all the animals and plants in that forest, that all depend on each other indirectly. This is called biodiversity. Humans also depend on everyone else and also suffer when the world is thrown out of balance by too much deforestation when people don’t think about the effect they have on everything else, as we can see with the fires burning across the world. By trying to help the Spix’s macaw you lead the way for helping all the other endangered birds, and all the other animals that live in the same habitat. 

What Can You Do?

Currently people are trying to protect areas where the Spix’s macaw used to live and enforce and put in place protections measures so that the macaws can go back into the wild and have hope to survive. One challenge facing the growth of the population is how small the population is. Because of this, it’s hard to maintain genetic diversity. Challenges to bringing the Spix’s macaw back to the wild include how hard it is to find a place where the macaws can live safely without interruption of humans. Thankfully, a farm has been bought, which includes the habitat of the last Spix’s macaws, to create the new area for when the Spix’s macaws return to the wild. You can help by never buying exotic birds as pets and reporting illegal wildlife trafficking. You can also help by donating to organizations that are helping parrots and other animals like the World Wildlife Fund, and tell people about the Spix’s macaw, the real bird from Rio, who needs our help.

sources cited

International, B. (2018, September 5). Spix's Macaw heads list of first bird extinctions confirmed this decade. Retrieved September 05, 2020, from https://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/spixs-macaw-heads-list-first-bird-extinctions-set-be-confirmed-decade

Spix's Macaw. (n.d.). Retrieved September 05, 2020, from https://www.act-parrots.org/spixs-macaw/?lang=en

Rinaldi, M. (2020, March 21). Spix's macaw returns to Brazil, but is overshadowed by controversy. Retrieved September 05, 2020, from https://news.mongabay.com/2020/03/spixs-macaw-returns-to-brazil-but-is-overshadowed-by-controversy/