Monday, October 8, 2012

Hyacinth Macaw - Pantanal, Brazil

A photograph of a Hyacinth Macaw taken in the Pantanal in Brazil
Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) - Pantanal, Brazil

The Pantanal's iconic bird, the hyacinth macaw, is unmistakable. Measuring in at around 100cm from head to tail, it is the largest parrot in the world. Along with the jaguar and giant otter, the hyacinth macaw was on my list of animals that I wanted to photograph during our trip to the Pantanal. Fortunately, I was able to see these birds on a few of occasions and was also able to photograph them from close proximity.

More photographs inside.
A photograph of a Hyacinth Macaw taken in the Pantanal in Brazil
Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) - Pantanal, Brazil

The lodge where we stayed in the Pantanal was frequently visited by hyacinth macaws. Each evening they would fly in and perch on a tree in the backyard announcing their arrival. They also fed on the nuts of palm trees that grew in the area. On the first evening, although I was able to photograph the macaws, the light wasn't great as it was overcast. I spent about an hour photographing and watching the birds feed before they flew away.

A photograph of a Hyacinth Macaw taken in the Pantanal in Brazil
Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) - Pantanal, Brazil

On the second morning, I had a much better sighting as the birds were perched on the lower branches of a smaller tree. The light was much better and again I was able to spend a decent amount of time photographing them before they disappeared. Although I saw the birds on the second evening as well, they were not as close as they had been during the morning. On all three occasions the sightings were of groups of 5-6 birds.

A photograph of a Hyacinth Macaw taken in the Pantanal in Brazil
Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) - Pantanal, Brazil

The hyacinth Macaw is most numerous in the Pantanal. There are 3 regions across South America, including the Pantanal, where hyacinth macaws can be found today. Although they were once widespread in forests and woodlands, their numbers decreased due to habitat loss and the pet trade. In the 1980's it is estimated that 10,000 birds were taken from the wild. Fortunately numbers in the Pantanal have stabilised may have actually started to increase due to the good will and protection of the landowners in the area.

A photograph of a Hyacinth Macaw taken in the Pantanal in Brazil
Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) - Pantanal, Brazil

The parrots diet consists mainly of nuts of local palms. It uses its strong bill to crack and eat the kernel of hard nuts and other seeds. The macaw is also known to feed on other fruits and vegetables as well.

A photograph of a Hyacinth Macaw taken in the Pantanal in Brazil
Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) - Pantanal, Brazil

Hyacinth macaws nest between July and December in tree cavities or cliff faces. In the Pantanal, the majority of nests are built in hollows of the manduvi tree. Competition is fierce as suitably sized hollows can only be found in trees that are over 60 years. A typical clutch would consist of 1 or 2 eggs but only a single chick survives (one egg hatches a few days before the other and the younger chick cannot compete with the older one for food). The incubation period is about a month and the fledglings leave the nest at about 110 days. They mature and begin breeding at 7 years of age.

A photograph of a Hyacinth Macaw taken in the Pantanal in Brazil
Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) - Pantanal, Brazil

The hyacinth macaw is legally protected in Brazil and commercial export is banned by its listing in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

A photograph of a Hyacinth Macaw taken in the Pantanal in Brazil
Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) - Pantanal, Brazil

All the photographs on this post were taken with a Canon 7D and the 100-400mm lens. A tripod was not used. I pushed the ISO up a bit to be able to shoot using a faster shutter speed.




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