The Lear’s Macaw strongly resembles the Hyacinth Macaw, but is shorter and stockier with a larger yellow cheek patch. The overall plumage is more ‘turquoise’ than in the Hyacinth Macaw and the facial skin is more extensive. There are some strong green tinges to the feathers of the head. The underside of the tail and wings is dark grey, the iris is dark brown and the beak, although predominantly black, may be marked with areas of lighter grey.
Table of contents
Lear’s Macaw Basic Information:
Weight Range 750-940g
Breeding Age in Captivity From 4-5 years of age
Clutch Size 2-3 eggs
Incubation Period 28 days
Fledging Age 16-20 weeks
LEAR’S MACAW IN THE WILD
The Lear’s Macaw is found in a very restricted area of Bahia in northeastern Brazil. This area is quite close to the former range of the Spix’s Macaw. It is a dry land where goats have destroyed young trees and food sources. In the previous edition it was reported that only 139 birds remained in the wild. This number has proven to be very inaccurate due to recent conservation efforts in the wild and more intense study the latest estimates now indicate over 1000 birds fly free in Brazil.
Lear’s Macaw prefers cliffs for nesting, although some nesting does occur in hollow tree cavities. Several groups have come together to support the conservation efforts for the Lear’s Macaw in Brazil and across the globe. The American Federation of Aviculture Inc, Parrots International, Lymington Foundation, Amigos de las Aves (USA), Nutropica Bird Foods (Brazil) and the Loro Parque Fundacion have joined forces and supported the ‘corn subsidy’ program taking place in Brazil.
Lear’s Macaws have been raiding the corn fields of local subsistence farmers who, in turn, sought permission to eradicate the birds. Instead, conservation groups came together and have created a subsidy program whereby lost crops are replaced by corn grown in other areas of Brazil. The farmers are happy with the program—the birds can fly free and still raid the corn crops with the population of the wild Lear’s Macaws increasing annually. Note that it is captive breeders that are most interested in saving this species and have put one foot forward to helping local conservation groups to accomplish their work. Even though this species is not common as a pet bird, aviculturists have made a huge impact on its conservation.
LEAR’S MACAW IN CAPTIVITY
The Lear’s Macaw is the rarest of all the large macaws in captivity. There are now no known specimens in the USA. Historically, Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, but has since been lost. it has been kept and bred Recent legal acquisition by a conservation breeder in Germany, and by the famous Loro Parque in the Canary Islands, has successfully increased the captive population of this species greatly. In Brazil Several birds are held at the Rio Zoo and the Sǎo Paulo Zoo. Last 10-15 years, several attempts to smuggle this species out of Brazil have been discovered resulting in some birds being confiscated and returned to Brazil for repatriation.
Captive pairs of this species are rarely seen. It is important to consider where these birds have originated in the wild. The type of nests they choose when allowed to do so most wild Lear’s Macaws nest on cliffs in caves or holes. Biologists report that wild pairs usually only fledge one or two chicks per nest. Even where the cavity is large enough for a human to crawl into. It makes sense that this species has evolved to use cliff caves or openings for nesting. That aviculture should take this into consideration when they design a captive environment for the birds the wild is a good place to research when forming ideas for captive breeding pairs. This may prove to be unnecessary in the future, and perhaps the standard wooden box will be suitable.
Wild Lear’s Macaws also fly many miles daily in search of favored foods. Its indicating that exercise may also be vital to keeping this species healthy or content in the caged environment. As Lear’s Macaws become more common in captivity. We will surely learn about more secrets to successfully keep and breed them their long-term health in captivity.