You may hear them before you see them – the two hyacinth macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) in the Graham Amazon Gallery. They’re Vancouver Aquarium curriculum programs coordinator Nancy F.’s Staff Pick of the Month for March.
Gus and Ollie have a special place in Nancy’s heart because of her previous experience with a hyacinth macaw at a conservation centre in Montreal. She says she is “impressed” by their size and colour.
Hyacinth macaws are the biggest parrot species, although their tail makes up approximately half of their body length. Despite their size, they’re not as heavy as they look. They weigh around 1.5 kilograms each – about the weight of a medium pineapple.
Hyacinth macaws live in the grasslands of Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil. Habitat loss and illegal trapping for the pet trade have made them an endangered species.
These birds have large, hooked beaks, which they can use like a third foot to grasp onto tree branches when they climb. They also use them to crack open the shells of hard nuts.
Nancy says, “I go visit the hyacinth macaws when I need an afternoon pick-me-up. Their bright colours and the way they always hang out together make me smile.”
Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.