Originally listed as part of the genus Ara, genetic data has since indicated that C. spixii should be recognized as a separate species. This follows the reclassification of Primolius and Orthopsittaca as distinct genus. It sits within the order Psittaciformes (parrots).
The tree below shows the evolutionary relationships between this species and all other birds. The colours of the tree indicate EDGE scores with the red shades indicating the higher priority species; the bright red leaves correspond to the top 100 EDGE bird species. Further information on every species can be found by zooming in to its leaf on the tree.
This macaw inhabits gallery woodland and nests in the Caribbean trumpet tree. It feeds predominantly on two specific (Euphorbiaceae) plants. Pairs will breed during the summer months and typically lay 2-3 eggs. It makes a clear cra-á cra-á cra-á noise when calling.
Tallest and densest trees, only few in gallery formations. Only the biggest trees provide holes that are large enough for the Spix Macaw. Appears to nest primarily in Caribbean trumpet trees.
Critically Endangered (Presumed Extinct in the Wild)
The decline of this species is due to the loss of its natural gallery habitat due to decades of exploitation in the Bahia region of Brazil. This loss of habitat was exacerbated by the trapping of individuals for the live bird trade. A number of other factors such as the colonization of the region by African bees and building of hydroelectric dams may have played a role in this species decline.
Currently there are thought to be approximately 90 individuals in captivity across the world. At least 80 of these are held in Qatar or Tenerife where they are part of a managed captive breeding programme. This is coordinated by the Working Group for the Recovery of the Spix’s Macaw who are planning future reintroductions of the species. A number of conservation organisations and consortiums have purchased land in the species natural range with the goal of providing valuable habitat for a future wild population.
Identify suitable release site. Protect and improve existing habitat and establish an onsite re-introduction facility.
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Cyanopsitta spixii. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/03/2013.
Caparroz, R.; Miyaki, C. Y.; Bampi, M. I.; Wajntal, A. 2001. Analysis of the genetic variability in a sample of the remaining group of Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii, Psittaciformes: Aves) by DNA fingerprinting. Biological Conservation 99: 307-311.
Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.
Reinschmidt, M. 2004. Another sensational hatching of Spix's Macaw at Loro Parque. AFA Watchbird: 28.
Schischakin, N. 2000. Conservation spotlight: the Spix's Macaw. Endangered Species Update 17: 44-6
Snyder, N.; McGowan, P.; Gilardi, J.; Grajal, A. 2000. Parrots: status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
Text compiled by Michelle Harrison.