Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

South American Macaw Protected Under Endangered Species Act

August 10, 2018


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made a final determination to list the hyacinth macaw as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to population declines resulting from deforestation, hunting and predation. The hyacinth macaw is the largest bird in the parrot family and has predominately cobalt-blue plumage. Approximately 6,500 hyacinth macaws remain in the wild, down from historical estimates ranging up to 3 million birds.

At one time, hyacinth macaws were widely distributed, occupying large areas of central Brazil, and smaller parts of Bolivia and Paraguay. Today, the species is limited to the Pará, Gerais and Pantanal regions of Brazil and marginally in Bolivia and Paraguay. Native forests have been replaced by crops and cattle ranching, creating a shortage in nesting sites, increasing competition and resulting in a reduction in population size. The hyacinth macaw’s specialized diet makes it particularly vulnerable from the reduced availability of food resources resulting from habitat loss.

The Service is also finalizing a species-specific 4(d) rule to establish the take prohibitions under the ESA that are appropriate to apply to this threatened species. The U.S. domestic pet trade is not a threat to the survival of the species in the wild, and imports of parrots into the United States are already tightly controlled by the Wild Bird Conservation Act. Additionally, the species is globally protected in trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Because of the 4(d) rule, the listing of the hyacinth macaw under the ESA will not affect import and export of certain captive-bred hyacinth macaws or domestic commercial activity across state lines provided that such trade is in compliance with the Wild Bird Conservation Act or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) procedures.

The notice will publish on August 13, 2018 in the Federal Register.

To learn more about the Endangered Species program’s Branch of Foreign Species, visit:

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