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Choosing a Lear's Macaw

By: Dr. Susan Clubb

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Similar to the well-known hyacinth macaw, Lear's macaws are smaller (30 to 32 inches long) with a dull blue-gray color. They have bright yellow eye-rings, a small yellow facial patch next to the lower beak and a yellow stripe on the tongue. The eyes are brown, and the tail is long and tapered. The undersides of both tail and wings are black.

In the wild, Lear's macaws (Anodorhynchus leari) have a very limited range and the population is fragmented between several locations in the state of Bahia, in Brazil.

Until recently they were thought to be extinct, and their conservation status is critical. Since they are listed as an endangered species in the United States, their transfer between states is prohibited without permits.

Very few of these birds – also known as Indigo macaws - exist outside of Brazil. In fact, the population is estimated at fewer than 200 birds. However, recently birds have been discovered in the illegal trade both inside and outside of Brazil.

Their diets principally consists of locally available nuts of a variety of palms including the licuri palm. A staple of the diet is syagrus palm
nuts and a single bird may eat 350 nuts in one day. Roosting sites and
nests are in sandstone cliffs. They feed in trees and on the ground.
Fluid from unripe palm nuts is probably their main source of water.

Breeding

The only known captive breeding of Lear's macaws occurred in
Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida in June 1982. The pairing was a female
from Busch Gardens and a male from Parrot Jungle, in Miami. There are
two living female offspring still in Tampa. Rearing was similar to
hyacinth macaws. While life span is unknown, it is probably similar to hyacinths.

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