Spix’s Macaw ( Ultimate Guide)

Last Updated on November 28, 2022 by Ali Shahid

If you love to keep parrots, Spix’s Macaw can catch your attention at the first glance. Spix’s Macaw is also known as Little Blue Macaw in many parts of the world. This bird is facing extinction after staying endemic in Brazil.

Unfortunately, you may never see Spix’s Macaw in the wild because of its small population. Spix’s Macaw is only available in captivity in different bird conservation habitats. This is one of the rarest macaws with a small body and blue-gray feathers.

Spix’s Macaw presents itself with beautiful colors and characteristics. Forests, shrublands, and woodlands are the natural biome of this bird. Keep following the article to know more about this majestic breed.

Brief Summary of Spix’s Macaw

SpeciesCyanopsitta spixii
Country of OriginBrazil
Living ClimatesTropical & Arid
Wild BiomesForests, Shrublands, Woodlands
Captive Population Size110
Wild Population StatusExtinct
Life Span25 – 38 years
Weight318 (Male) – 288 (Female)
Average Body Length10 – 15 inches
Wing Span Length10 – 12 inches
Reproductive SeasonNov – March
Mating BehaviorMonogamous
Age of Sexual Maturity7 years
Average Egg Clutch2 – 3

History & Distribution of Spix’s Macaw

Spix’s Macaw has a neotropical biogeographical realm. Their endemic presence was in Brazil and South America. Although they are not present in their natural habitat, most of the population is in a private collection.

If we talk about the natural habitat, it was the Tabebuia Caraiba gallery in creeks. They were mostly present in dry scrub zones across Tabebuia. Spix’s Macaw can live in tropical and arid climatic conditions.

A German naturalist ‘Johann Baptist von Spix’ first describes this macaw of the tribe Arini. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the wild Spix’s Macaw extinct in 2019.

Spix’s Macaw belongs to the Aves class with the family Psittacidae. Their specie name is ‘Cyanospsitta spixii’ and follows the genus ‘Cyanopsitta’. Now, Spix’s Macaw has a remaining total population of only 110.

Physical Characteristics

If you get a chance to look at Spix’s Macaw, it is a quite fascinating bird. The body conformation is upright and small with a total body length of 10 to 15 inches. The plumage color is blue with a specific grey facial skin on eye rings.

The wing pattern is bigger than small parrots and has a length of 10 to 12 inches when opened. Both males and females of Spix’s Macaws possess identical blue color plumages. Male Spix’s Macaws are slightly heavier than females with a weight of around 318 grams.

Female Spix’s Macaws reach a maximum weight of 288 grams with a vivid blue upper body. The color of the legs and feet is brownish black with scales just like other parrots. Adults do possess some distinctive features on the beak and iris.

The beak of Spix’s Macaw has a dark-gray shade to it whereas the iris color is yellow. Spix’s Macaw can live up to 35 years in the wild and in captive habitats. The newborns and juvenile Spix’s Macaws have dark blue skin and new feathers.

On the contrary, the iris color of juveniles is a more brownish color with pale skin around the eyes. You can also identify a juvenile Spix’s Macaw by looking at the white stripe along the center of the upper beak.

Behavior & Lifestyle

In the wild, Spix’s Macaws were present in the form of small groups. They were keen to travel for food hunting, especially along the river sides. As they lived in groups, most of the population was present on tree tops and higher places.

The behavior of Spix’s Macaw was shy in the wild. Now they are only present in captivity and hence, no migration has been seen since then. The active behavior of Spix’s Macaws makes them fly off in case of predators.

Spix’s Macaw can mimic human voices quite well. These parrots are masters at creating different voices and are noisy. In the case of diet, they mostly consumed seeds and wild nuts of different plants.

The age of sexual reproduction in captive Spix’s Macaws is around 7 years. These parrots actively involve themselves in courtship rituals for mating and egg-laying. Moreover, the breeding season of Spix’s Macaw is between November to March.

Spix’s Macaw has a clutch of 2 to 3 eggs but it can reach up to seven eggs per clutch. The eggs have an incubation period of 25 to 28 days after which they hatch. In 100 to 130 days, young Spix’s Macaws can live and fly independently.

Causes of Extinction in Spix’s Macaw

In 1819 at the time of discovery, Spix’s Macaw was already a rare bird. The intensive destruction of its habitat by burning and grazing leads to biome loss. Deforestation and agricultural development from the past century caused the movement and loss of habitats.

The remaining small part of the land was unable to support Spix’s Macaw. Predators such as feral cats and marmosets hunt on Spix’s Macaw and their eggs. After the complete loss of woodland trees by grazing, Spix’s Macaw was unable to carry their population.

As the current wild environment was unable to support these birds, there were no more trees left. The Caraiba tree was the prime habitat for Spix’s Macaw to live and reproduce. The slow-growing property of these trees along with no regenerative growth results in population loss.

After several population analyses and surveys of the remaining Spix’s Macaws, IUCN declared the extinction. The confirmed records and habitat loss gave strong evidence of extinction in 2019.

Current Conservation Strategies

Conservationists are putting effort to bring Spix’s Macaw back into the wild. The current population of this bird arises from the 7 wild Spix’s Macaws. But, little accomplishments have been made since the release of 17 captive Spix’s Macaw in the Canary Islands of Spain.

CPRAA is a permanent committee formed by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Resources. This committee is responsible for the recovery of Spix’s Macaw back into the wild.

After the 2002 disputes among the committee, the BIERR dissolved the recovery organization. But, due to the goal of Spix’s Macaw preservation, the Working Group for the Recovery of Spix’s Macaw came into existence.

Then, in May 2012, the ICMBio organization of Brazil developed an action plan for these birds. Conservation, protection and veterinary care were the initial goals. The organization is currently working to create a natural habitat for the captive population of Spix’s Macaw.

As Spix’s Macaw is native to Brazil, all the breeding and preservation efforts happen there. At first, the Brazilian government held Spix’s Macaws in Sao Paulo Zoo. After that, NEST & Al Wabra Wildlife took the responsibility of relocation under the orders of the Brazilian Government.

Macaw is a popular bird. According to recent stats, the number of indoor birds gain popularity over years. In 2022, the population of indoor birds such as macaws reached 1.6 million. According to the survey, the population will exceed 2 million in 2023.

Final Words

Spix’s Macaws are on the list of extinction after the last male disappeared in October 2000. There are only a limited number of Spix’s Macaws present in captivity. Their genetics and reproduction are in progress to increase the number.

In June 2022, the conservation organizations released 8 Spix’s Macaws in the wild. The Brazilian government has decided to release more captive Spix’s Macaws in December 2022.

Research References

Juniper, Tony, and Carlos Yamashita. “The conservation of Spix’s Macaw.” Oryx 24.4 (1990): 224-228.

Schischakin, Natasha. “Special Report: The Spix’s Macaw Conservation Program.” AFA Watchbird 26.6 (1999): 46-55.

Juniper, A. T., and Carlos Yamashita. “The habitat and status of Spix’s Macaw Cyanopsitta spixii.” Bird Conservation International 1.1 (1991): 1-9.

Juniper, Tony. Spix’s Macaw: the race to save the world’s rarest bird. Simon and Schuster, 2004.


  • Ali Shahid

    Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.

    View all posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *