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The hyacinth macaw is possibly the most stunning of the macaw family, and is certainly the largest. It is the largest of all parrots. Originally from Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, the hyacinth is the “Great Dane” of companion birds, with the mature male reaching over 40 inches in length. Very few people actually have a hyacinth macaw as a companion, and will probably only have the pleasure of seeing one in a zoo or a larger bird shop. Despite its size, penchant for destruction, loudness and expense, this blue macaw is the penultimate companion bird for the person who has the time, patience and wallet to properly keep this beautiful beast.
The hyacinth macaw is a stunning cobalt color all over its body, with a ring of bright yellow around its eye and the same color yellow at the base and the corners of its beak. It is often referred to simply as a “blue macaw.” The hyacinth is not twice as large as other large macaws, though its big personality makes other macaws seem like dwarves in its presence.
The right owner for a hyacinth macaw is someone who has either kept many birds successfully before, or someone who has done a lot of research, has consulted the experts, and knows exactly what they’re getting into. Still, the Hyacinth is not a great first bird simply because it can be a handful.
Hyacinth macaws need a very specific diet. In the wild this bird’s diet consists almost wholly of palm nuts from two specific types of palm tress. Hyacinths harvest the nuts from the trees in the wild, though the bird also has a very characteristic way of finding the nuts already stripped of their tough, fibrous outer coating: Hyacinths forage in cattle lands looking for dung containing the nuts, which are indigestible to the cattle, but easier for the hyacinth to open — the cow has done most of the work. The hyacinth macaw’s diet is very high in fat, and though you may not be able to find palm nuts (especially those predigested by cattle!), you can substitute Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, macadamias, coconut, pistachios and cashews. Lafeber macaw foods address these dietary needs. Avi-cakes, Nutri-Berries, Parrot Pellets and more contribute to a healthy diet that also encourage foraging for pet Hyacinths.
This bird, like all parrots, needs a lot of free time daily to play with its humans or just hang out. It is a social bird, usually seen in pairs or in small groups in the wild. They are not “loners,” and will languish without company. Also, confined hyacinth will become cranky and neurotic, and can begin to self-mutilate and scream excessively. They will get along with other birds, particularly New World parrots, but individuals should be introduced early.
Often called a “gentle giant” the hyacinth macaw is indeed affectionate, but gentle it is not. Hyacinths subdue very easily, but they tend to want to play rough with other hyacinth macaws, and with their “person.” Its beak carries over 200 pounds of pressure per square inch – that means that it could snap a broomstick in half with one crunch. Even a very tame hyacinth macaw can still be nippy (if you could call that big beak nippy), but that is usually playful behavior. Because its beak is so intimidating, this bird is best kept by a person who is not daunted by the thought of being bitten — there’s no guarantee, even with the tamest bird, that the occasional bite will not happen.
If you have close neighbors, you may want to reconsider getting a hyacinth macaw. This bird is extremely loud and prone to screeching. One hyacinth might not be so annoying to neighbors, but a pair will pump up the volume. Also, a loud hyacinth macaw can call the attention of bird-nappers looking to sell such an expensive bird, so make sure to keep your birds safe from potential theft.
Hyacinth macaws are not the best talkers among the macaws, but they will learn a few favorite words and phrases and repeat them over and over. These birds are highly intelligent, and may learn to contextualize certain words as well.
The hyacinth macaw stunning cobalt-blue coloring and massive size will cause anyone to pause and take notice. Bright yellow around the eyes and at the base and the corners of the beak makes the largest of the macaw species appear to be in a perpetual smile. This is a parrot for someone who afford a hefty price tag and who has space to spare.