Hyacinth Macaws are crackers – and that's no insult! They are the best nut crackers you're ever likely to see.

They use their bumper sized beaks to crack large palm nuts, much too tough for any other animal to break open.

They are the biggest birds in the parrot family, reaching up to 100cm long. Many people think they're the best looking parrots, with deep blue feathers, a yellow ring around the eye and yellow near their black, curved beaks.

In the wild they live in South America, mainly Brazil, but numbers have fallen drastically. Over recent decades they were relentlessly hunted for the pet trade and also suffered as farms and urban developers took over large parts of the forests where they live.

The availability of the palm tree species from which they get the nuts to feed on is crucial for their continued survival. Pairs mostly nest in tree hollows, but sometimes in holes or caves.

Females usually lay two white eggs, which they sit on for 30 days, then chicks stay in the nest, getting stronger, for another 100 days.

Ours are on the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, a carefully managed scheme overseeing the breeding of zoo animals in different countries.

You'll find our Hyacinth macaws in their large aviary to the rear of the Tropical Realm. We have an excellent record of breeding Hyacinth macaws and in 2008 welcomed the arrival of one more chick from our breeding pair, which have been at Chester Zoo since 1992.

Our breeding programme for these extremely rare birds continued to have success with a great new addition coming in July 2014.

By visiting our zoo you help us to continue valuable breeding programmes and research into the world's rare and exotic bird species.

Read more

Interesting facts

Where they live: North and Central Brazil, North West Paraguay and Eastern Bolivia in South America.

Habitat: Edge of lowland rainforest, dry woodland, palm forest, pantanal and agricultural land.

Diet: Dependent on a small number of palm species, from which they eat the fallen fruits and nuts. Most of their feeding is done on the ground.

Weight: 1400-1700 grams.

Threats: Loss of habitat and particularly nesting and feeding trees and palms due to logging and clearance of land for agriculture. This species was reduced to only 3000 birds by massive illegal trade in the period of 1970-1990, when during the 1980’s alone 10,000 birds were taken out of the wild. Hunting of birds for food.

Species Information

Scientific name Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae
Genus Anodorhynchus
IUCN status Endangered
Roles in the zoo


Interdependence: This species helps demonstrate that all living things, including humans, live in ecosystems and depend on other living things for their survival.

Human Impact: This species helps demonstrate that human activities are causing serious environmental damage.

Partnerships: This species helps demonstrate that we work in partnerships with other organisations to conserve nature and natural resources.

Chester Zoo: This species helps demonstrate that as a charity Chester Zoo’s mission is to be a major force in conserving biodiversity worldwide.

Husbandry Development and/or Skills Training: This is a species for which we’re developing particular husbandry methods to address an identified issue and/or helping to build staff capacity in specific husbandry or field conservation skills.

Visitor experience

Exhibit Enhancement: This species connects visitors with the geographic areas that they originate from and helps develop further understanding of the environmental issues facing the species in those regions.