Avian Expert Articles

Wild Spix Macaw Sighting

Spixs-MacawThe popular, Oscar-nominated, 3D computer-animated, full-length feature “Rio” told the story of Blu and Jewel, two rare blue macaws making their escape from unscrupulous animal smugglers. The two blue macaws in this story are representative of a real-life species referred to as Spix’s macaw.

The Spix’s macaw is a historically rare bird once found in a small region of forestry located in Brazil. The vibrantly colored bird is named Spix’s macaw after a German biologist by the name of Johann Spix, who first wrote up detailed descriptions of the rare bird back in the early 1800s.

Since, Spix’s macaw has only been sighted just a limited number of times in the wild. The last time was in 2000 after a visual sighting was confirmed. After that, the sightings went cold, and a growing fear of their extinction in the wild was enough to logically assume the worse. And so, a little over fifteen years ago, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had listed the probability of Spix’s macaw as being likely extinct in the wild.

Fortunately, all of that changed just a few weeks ago when a farmer spotted one flying in the air from where he was working. Upon return with appropriate video equipment, the farmer was able to capture the stunning bird on film with approximately 2 seconds of video as the macaw flew from tree to tree. After confirmation by SAVE Brazil (Society for the Conservation of Birds of Birds in Brazil) professionals, a feeling of elation followed the reality of actual Spix’s macaws in their natural habitat.

Rio, an Oscar-nominated 3D computer-animated full-length feature (2011) from Blue Sky Studio, was a hit on the big screen. It was followed up by an equally successful sequel as Rio 2 in 2014. Both films told the story of Blu and Jewel, who were voiced by Jesse Eisenberg (Blu), and Anne Hathaway (Jewel), as the two birds made their escape after being captured by unscrupulous smugglers in the black market

As with all of our exotic birds (and an increasing number of other animals), the concern is the unnecessary eradication and poaching of our natural living things. Over the years, a large number of creatures have been placed on critically endangered lists. Once on this frightening —and growing — list, a worldwide effort is undertaken to protect the remaining population in their habitat. As of now, there are approximately 130 of the Spix’s macaw being cared for in captivity in the hopes that once released the birds may be able to sustain themselves better in their naturally narrow habitat, thus possibly guaranteeing their population growth.

With the sighting of the rare bird, the hope is that it can be relocated, and therefore, studied more closely so as to be able to provide the tools for the captive Spix’s macaws to better survive once released. That’s a great thing and certainly one to rejoice in. Watch the rare footage of the Spix’s macaw as it flies in the air.

You can help in this research effort by electing to donate and support the work of BirdLife International and SAVE Brazil. Start by clicking this link to help you decide your place in the ongoing efforts to help our feathered friends in the wild.

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