Cyanopsitta spixii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Psittaciformes Psittacidae

Scientific Name: Cyanopsitta spixii (Wagler, 1832)
Common Name(s):
English Spix's Macaw, Little Blue Macaw
Spanish Guacamayito Azul, Guacamayo de Spix
Taxonomic Source(s): SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Identification information: 55-57 cm. Delicate, blue-grey macaw with long tail and wings. Pale ashy-blue head, distinctively square shaped. Pale blue underparts. More vividly blue in upperparts, wings and long tail. Voice Strong, clear cra-á cra-á cra-á.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct in the Wild) D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): de Melo Barros, Y., Balfour, S. & Develey, P.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A., Ashpole, J
Although this species exists in several captive populations, the last known individual in the wild disappeared at the end of 2000, and no others may remain, primarily as a result of trapping for trade plus habitat loss. However, it cannot yet be presumed to be Extinct in the Wild until all areas of potential habitat have been thoroughly surveyed. Any remaining population is likely to be tiny, and for these reasons it is treated as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct in the Wild).

Date last seen: 2000
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species was known for over 150 years, from small numbers of traded birds and a hunted bird taken by von Spix, until it was traced in 1985-1986 to near the rio São Francisco in north Bahia, Brazil. Only three birds remained and these were captured for trade in 1987 and 1988. However, a single male, paired with a female Blue-winged Macaw Propyrrhura maracana, was discovered at the site in July 1990. A female C. spixii was released from captivity in 1995 and initially paired with the male. Unfortunately, the female disappeared from the release site after seven weeks and is suspected to have collided with a power-line (Caparroz et al. 2001). The wild bird was still paired with the female P. maracana in January 2000 (Y. de Melo Barros in litt. 1999, 2000) but neither bird has been seen since the end of that year. In 2000, the total number of publicly declared birds in captivity was 60, but 54 of these were captive-bred (Schischakin 2000). The official captive population in 2012 totalled 80 individuals, with a further c. 13 in private ownership. There are occasional local reports, including from Serra da Capivara National Park, and a bird filmed near Curaçá in Jun 2016 (the first confirmed wild record since 2000, albeit thought to have originated in captivity), which provide some hope that the species may be extant in the wild (Tobias et al. 2006).

Countries occurrence:
Possibly extinct:
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:50
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Any remaining population is assumed to be tiny (numbering fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals), based on the disappearance of the last known individual.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:1-49Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It apparently requires gallery woodland dominated by caraiba Tabebuia caraiba trees for nesting, but feeds mainly on two regionally characteristic Euphorbiaceae plant species. Breeding occurs during the austral summer. Two or three eggs are laid in the wild (up to five in captivity). The wild bird and the P. maracana apparently produced infertile eggs, although one experienced very early embryo death, subsequent DNA analysis revealing a hybrid.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):9.6
Movement patterns:Nomadic

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The decline of the species has generally been attributed to two principal factors. First, long-term destruction of the specific gallery woodland habitat on which the species apparently depended, the result of the colonisation and exploitation of the region along the rio São Francisco corridor during more than three centuries. Secondly, trapping for the illegal live bird trade in recent decades pushed the species towards extinction. In addition, the colonisation of the distributional range by introduced aggressive African bees, and the building of the Sobradinho hydroelectric dam above Juazeiro may have contributed, perhaps significantly, to the species's decline in the 1970s and 1980s. Direct hunting is considered a factor of minor importance in the overall decline, even though several reports of shooting are on record.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and is protected under Brazilian law. Considered Extinct in the Wild in Brazil (Silveira & Straube 2008) and officially listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct in the Wild) (MMA 2014). Ten years of protection, habitat restoration and a variety of on-going community conservation programmes, will pave the way for future reintroductions (Y. de Melo Barros in litt. 1999, 2000, Caparroz et al. 2001). IBAMA established the Brazilian government's Permanent Committee for the Recovery of the Spix's Macaw and cooperation between holders of birds resulted in annual increases in the captive population. This body is succeeded by the Working Group for the Recovery of Spix's Macaw (de Soye and de Melo Barros 2006), now overseen by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio). This group is responsible for coordinating the captive breeding programme and there will be on-site reintroduction facilities later followed by on-site breeding facilities. The official captive population totalled 80 individuals in 2012, and important proportions of this are currently held by Al-Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP) in Qatar and Loro Parque Fundación (LPF) in Tenerife, Spain. Other official holders are in Brazil and Germany. Including birds not registered in the official programme, over 90 individuals are thought to exist in captivity worldwide. Successful breeding has occurred within some registered facilities, including AWWP and LPF. The latter has maintained the species since 1984 and in 2007 opened a new breeding centre for Spix's Macaws (Anon 2008a). AWWP raised five chicks successfully in 2012 and seven in 2013 (Gillespie 2014). In 2013 and 2014, females from the AWWP captive breeding population were artificially inseminated and successfully produced eggs (Anon 2015, Tomiska 2015). A captive management and species recovery handbook is in preparation for this species. In February 2009 Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation announced the purchase of the 2,200 ha Concordia Farm in Bahia state, Brazil, the site of one of the last recorded sightings of wild Spix's Macaw, in October 2000 (Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation undated). Concordia Farm was also the base of the Spix's Macaw field project, largely financed by the LPF, which operated throughout the 1990s until completion in 2002, and release site for the only captive Spix's Macaw yet to be released back into the wild, in 1995. Concordia Farm abuts the 400 ha Gangorra Farm, previously purchased by a conservation consortium. It is planned to allow both farms to return to a more natural state by removing domestic livestock, with the long term goal of the sites proving to be a valuable habitat resource for future reestablishment of a wild population.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Identify a suitable release site for the potential annual release of captive-bred birds starting between 2013 and 2030 depending on the success of captive breeding efforts (de Soye and de Melo Barros 2006). Continue to develop artificial reproduction techniques to boost the population. Protect and improve habitat at the identified release site (de Soye and de Melo Barros 2006). Establish a well-resourced on site reintroduction facility at Praia do Forte under IBAMA ownership (de Soye and de Melo Barros 2006). Introduce captive-bred fledglings and ensure protection from trappers. Continue cooperation between holders of captive birds. Continue ecological studies to assess the need for habitat management (Snyder et al. 2000). Continue the community programmes.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Energy production & mining -> 3.3. Renewable energy
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Very Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:High Impact: 9 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Apis mellifera ssp. scutellata ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology

Bibliography [top]

Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation. undated. Press release 26: Restoring the Spix's Macaw habitat. Available at: #

Anon. 2001. The Spix's Macaw recovery committee will be restructured. Cyanopsitta 60: 16-17.

Anon. 2008. The new Spix's Macaw breeding centre of LPF. Cyanopsitta: 3-5.

Anon. 2015. Großartige Neuigkeiten zur assistierten Reproduktion der Spix-Aras [Great news for assisted reproduction of Spix's Macaws]. Gefiederte Welt 139(1): 5-6.

Barros, Y.; Bianchi , C. A. 2008. Cyanopsitta spixii. In: Machado, A. B. M.; Drummond, G. M.; Paglia, A. P. (ed.), Livro vermelho da fauna brasileira ameaçada de extinção, Volume 2, pp. 471-472. MMA and Fundação Biodiversitas, Brasília, DF and Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.

Caparroz, R.; Miyaki, C. Y.; Bampi, M. I.; Wajntal, A. 2001. Analysis of the genetic variability in a sample of the remaining group of Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii, Psittaciformes: Aves) by DNA fingerprinting. Biological Conservation 99: 307-311.

Collar, N., Boesman, P., Sharpe, C.J. and Kirwan, G.M. 2016. Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Collar, N.J., Gonzaga, L.P., Krabbe, N., Madroño Nieto, A., Naranjo, L.G., Parker, T.A. and Wege, D.C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

de Soye, Y; Barros, M. 2004. Saving the Spix's Macaw Cyanopsitta spixii - a captive management and species recovery handbook (CD-ROM). Loro Parque Foundation.

Gillespie, F. 2014. Saving Spix's Macaw from extinction. Gulf Times Available at: (Accessed: 23/06/2015).

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

MMA. 2014. Lista Nacional Oficial de Espécies da Fauna Ameaçadas de Extinção. Portaria No 444, de 17 de dezembro de 2014. Diário Oficial da União - Seção 1. Nº 245, quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2014.

Reinschmidt, M. 2004. Another sensational hatching of Spix's Macaw at Loro Parque. AFA Watchbird: 28.

Schischakin, N. 2000. Conservation spotlight: the Spix's Macaw. Endangered Species Update 17: 44-6.

Silveira, L.F. and Straube, F.C. 2008. Aves. In: Machado, A.B.M., Drummond, G.M. and Paglia, A.P. (eds), Livro vermelho da fauna brasileira ameaçada de extinção. Vol. 2, pp. 378-679. Ministério do Meio Ambiente, Brasília & Fundação Biodiversitas. , Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Snyder, N.; McGowan, P.; Gilardi, J.; Grajal, A. 2000. Parrots: status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Tobias, J. A.; Butchart, S. H. M.; Collar, N. J. 2006. Lost and found: a gap analysis for the Neotropical avifauna. Neotropical Birding 1: 4-22.

Tomiska, L. 2015. The second year of the artificial insemination in Al Wabra: two of five eggs hatched successfully. Parrots Daily News Available at: (Accessed: 23/06/2015).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Cyanopsitta spixii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22685533A93078343. . Downloaded on 17 August 2018.
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