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How many blue macaws are left in the world?

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Macaws are among the brightest and most colorful birds found anywhere in the world. Each bird has its own unique coloration, which is influenced by where it lives. Their colors complement the vibrant foliage of the Amazon. The blue macaw, also known as the Spix's macaw, is a species of macaw. The animated film Rio de Janeiro was inspired by this Brazilian bird. Sadly, the number of this bird has declined significantly in recent years. What is being done to help blue macaws in the wild? Let's see how many blue macaws are left in the world.

Are Blue Macaws Extinct?

eating blue macaw
Back in 2018, the blue macaw was officially declared extinct.

©Reto Buehler/Shutterstock.com

The Spix's macaw was declared extinct in 2018 following a study by BirdLife International. Compared with previous reports, the latest report highlights the hardships of mainland birds and the greater threats they face than island birds. During that time, it seems unlikely that the species survived. This is because there are fewer than 100 blue macaws in captivity at this time, and the number has been decreasing over time. In the wild, there are no known blue macaws.

However, against all odds, the increase in bird populations has exceeded expectations. The Spix's Macaw still survives thanks to the efforts of various organizations around the world. In 2020 it was announced that the Threatened Parrot Conservation Society will fund the return of 52 Spix's macaws to the wild. So how many blue macaws are left in the world now? Let's take a look at the current population numbers of these animals and see how they are doing.

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How many blue macaws are left in the world?

Most Expensive Bird - Hyacinth Macaw
Spix's little blue macaw has been flying free in his native Brazil for 22 years, but now he's back in the wild for the first time.

© iStock.com/Uwe-Bergwitz

The blue macaw is listed as "Vulnerable – Declining" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. According to them, there are about 4,300 left in the wild, and the number is declining. As frustrating as it is to see the numbers drop, there is some good news to report.

First, there are more birds than ever in safe captivity. Conservation of bird genes is becoming increasingly important to zoos and sanctuaries due to the need to keep active birds. As a result, the chances of macaws being reintroduced into the wild will increase over time.

Also, in addition to what we mentioned above, some Brazilian nationals and other international organizations are actively monitoring macaw populations in Brazil. Additionally, they are working to reintroduce these animals into the wild. To help macaws return to a healthy and stable population, understanding the challenges is the first step in helping them overcome them.

Why are blue macaws critically endangered?

The habitat of the blue macaw has a golden ratio.

©Erika Kirkpatrick/Shutterstock.com

For decades, blue macaws have been endangered. However, this problem doesn't just affect blue macaws. Nearly half of all parrot species are threatened with extinction, and nearly 25 percent are critically endangered. So what are the main factors that threaten these gorgeous parrots?

The main threats to blue macaws include:

habitat destruction

Countless species on our planet are threatened by habitat destruction. The habitat of the blue macaw has a golden ratio. They need an environment that is neither too dense nor too open. The continued existence of these species also depends on the survival of several other species. Due to European colonization, the Rio San Francisco area suffered from deforestation, resource exploitation, and agricultural development in the late 1800s. The blue macaw's habitat has been destroyed as the population has grown and the rainforest has declined.

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wildlife trade

The exotic pet industry has little regulation, but is extremely profitable. Blue macaws are protected by national laws and international agreements, and trade is strictly prohibited. The only specimens that can be legally traded are those born in captivity, for at least $10,000. The CITES Appendix I listing makes international trade illegal except for legitimate conservation, scientific or educational reasons. Despite this, illegal trade still occurs from time to time. The 1980s was the worst period for illegal bird harvesting, with 10,000 birds harvested. A single bird can cost as much as $12,000. The survival of the species is immediately threatened due to the illegal bird trade.

What conservation measures are being taken to help blue macaws?

Blue Macaw Flying
The blue macaw is an exceptionally large bird and they are the largest parrots in the world.


The blue macaw is being protected through various measures. With the help of researchers and local ranchers, the Hyacinth Macaw Project, a Brazil-funded conservation initiative, has monitored blue macaw populations and nesting sites in the Pantanal for nearly 20 years. The hyacinth macaw population has doubled since the program began 12 years ago.

In May 2012, Brazil's ICMBio published a five-year National Action Plan (PAN).

In the plan, 150 specimens will be kept in captivity (by 2020), a breeding facility will be constructed in its native habitat, and additional areas will be acquired and restored before the species is released. To finally release Spix into the wild, NEST is a private aviary near Avare, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, opened in 2012 as a breeding and staging center. Finally, in 2021, the Association for the Protection of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) hatched three Spix chicks, the first to be born in Brazil in 30 years.

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Volia Nikaci is a freelance writer and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding and marketing. She has a background in broadcast journalism and political science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When not writing, she enjoys traveling, visiting used bookstores, and hanging out with her significant other.

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