Gentle Giants of the Bird World

Being a cat person, I never thought I’d do well with birds. But after being a foster mommy to a 40-year old Macaw for over a year, that all changed. I love them and love photographing them as part of my work as a pet photographer.


Blue Macaw photographed by Kathy MacKenzie of Feather and Fur Photography.

Being the largest of the Macaws and being very even-tempered, Blue Macaws (Hyacinth Macaws) are known as “gentle giants.” These beautiful birds, who live to be 60 years of age, are native to central and eastern South America and have excellent interactions with humans. Unfortunately, this has contributed to the heavy toll on their population in the wild as they are trapped for the pet trade. In the 1980’s, it was estimated that at least 10,000 birds were taken from the wild and at least 50% were destined for the Brazilian pet market.

Further, numbers have fallen due to habitat loss from introduction of cattle ranching and agriculture, the development of hydroelectric schemes and annual grass fires set by farmers. The regions previously inhabited are now unsuitable for Blue Macaws and with the remaining threats of illegal trapping for the cage bird trade, they have suffered rapid population decline. Today the Hyacinth Macaws are one of the most threatened birds in the world and are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s Red List.

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