Blue-throated macaw (Ara glaucogularis)

Spanish: Guacamayo Amarillo, Guacamayo Barbazul, Guacamayo Caninde
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusAra (1)
SizeLength: 85 cm (2)
Weight0.75 kg (3)

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix I of CITES (4).

The large, blue-throated macaw is an extremely rare parrot. The striking plumage is turquoise blue on the upperparts and bright yellow below, with blue cheeks and throat patch (2). The strong bill is dark and the eyes are yellow. These birds have long, elegant tails and males may possibly have a darker patch of blue on the throat (2).

Endemic to Bolivia in South America, this species now shows a highly restricted and fragmented range. It is known only from the north of the country (2).

The blue-throated macaw inhabits a mixture of palm groves, savannah and occasionally gallery forest; blue-throated macaws are particularly associated with the palm Attalea phalerata (2).

The breeding season runs from November to March and nests are constructed within the cavities of large trees, with a preference for palms (2). These macaws feed on a variety of nuts and seeds (3), particularly palm fruits (2).

The population of blue-throated macaws has been decimated by the collection of wild individuals to supply the international pet trade. Indeed, the species was thought to have been lost from the wild until it was rediscovered in 1992 (2). Ironically, the rarity of this species makes it even more desirable for collectors and the illegal trade appears to continue to this date (3). Surviving populations are extremely fragmented and vulnerable (2). Established land management practices, including burning of under-storey in palm groves, also mitigate against recovery of the population (6).

The blue-throated macaw is protected by law in Bolivia (2) and international trade is prohibited by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (4). Illegal trade appears to continue however, and it has been recommended that full-time guards may be required to halt this process (2). Problems arise, however, from the fact that much of this bird’s range is on privately owned ranches (5). Research is also needed into the natural ecology of this species so that effective management plans can be implemented (2). Fortunately, there are several organisations involved with the research and conservation of this bird, and a Species Recovery Plan has now been formulated. NGO Armonía, Bolivia’s BirdLife International partner, also set up the Blue-throated Macaw Conservation Programme, which they have worked on in conjunction with the Loro Parque Fundación to save this Critically Endangered bird. Incredibly in October 2004, this programme found a new disjunct population at Santa Rosa, 100 kilometres west of previous records, providing new hope that more blue-throated macaws exist in the wild than previously thought (6). The programme’s important work on mapping the species, assessing its numbers and threats in different areas will certainly help guide priority conservation decisions in the future, and hopefully help bring this beautiful bird back from the brink of extinction (5).

For more information on the blue-throated macaw see:

 

Authenticated (16/06/2006) by Dr. David Waugh, Director of the Loro Parque Fundación, and Co-Project Supervisor of the Blue-throated Macaw Conservation Program.
http://www.loroparque-fundacion.org/

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. BirdLife International (2003)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/search/species_search.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=1548&m=0
  3. UNEP-WCMC Species Sheets (August, 2003)
    http://www.unep-wcmc.org/species/data/species_sheets/bluethro.htm
  4. CITES (August, 2003)
    http://www.cites.org
  5. Loro Parque Fundación (June, 2006)
    http://www.loroparque-fundacion.org/
  6. Asociación Armonía (June, 2006)
    http://www.birdbolivia.com