All about Hyacinth Macaw keeping and breeding. PART I

May 18th, 2016 | by Kashmir Csaky
All about Hyacinth Macaw keeping and breeding. PART I
Breeding
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Read also the second and third part of this article:

All about Hyacinth Macaw keeping and breeding. PART II

All about Hyacinth Macaw keeping and breeding. PART III

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Kashmir Csaky is a quality breeder of Macaws since 1985. She writes for numerous publications and frequently lectures on breeding and behavioral problems

Through her own experiences Kashmir Csaky gives some details to consider when embarking on one of the most difficult breeding projects in the parrot world: the Hyacinth Macaw. Hyacinth Macaws are the Panda bears of the parrot world. Their great beauty with a perpetual smile, sweet fun-loving nature and rarity make them one of the most desirable of all birds. It is no wonder that aviculturists are making great efforts to breed these magnificent birds. However, breeding Hyacinths and raising their chicks to independence is not an easy task. Hyacinth Macaws are one of the most difficult of all psittacine birds to breed. The high failure rate to reproduce Hyacinths in the United States is obvious by the number of proven pairs that are for sale.

Although many of these pairs may not be proven as claimed, some certainly have produced fertile eggs and live chicks. The reason these proven birds are for sale is because the sellers have been through so many infertile eggs, dead in shell, difficult hatches and dead babies that they have given up and moved on to a species that is easier to breed. According to the 1995 AZA (American Zoo and Aquarium AssociationNorth American Studbook, the 30-day neonate death rate was 20 per cent, and by 35 days it was 26.7 per cent. Unlike many species Hyacinth Macaw chicks remain difficult to raise until the chicks are completely food independent, which occurs at about seven or eight months old for most individuals.

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Buying Hyacinth Macaws for breeding

Buying breeding birds wisely is the first step for successful results. Hyacinths are very expensive birds so I am surprised that many people are so cavalier when they purchase them. Large amounts of money are sent to strangers to buy a bird that has often not even been seen. The new Hyacinth might be a nice healthy bird or the bird might not be what was expected at all. When birds are purchased this way, it is a gamble. If the bird was shipped long distances it may be impossible to receive compensation for a sick bird or dead bird. I cannot imagine anyone making any other kind of expensive purchase with such a carefree attitude.

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Buying Hyacinth Macaw Pairs

It is virtually impossible to establish that a pair of birds is proven, if such claims are made. Yet, asking for references and following them up can provide a great deal of information. Always ask to speak to the seller’s veterinarian. If the seller has nothing to hide he will permit his veterinarian to speak freely to anyone who is interested in purchasing his birds.

Some helpful information can be acquired if it is possible to see the birds in the aviary before agreeing to purchase them.

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https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/58/Hyacinth_macaw_%28Anodorhynchus_hyacinthinus%29_in_flight.JPG/640px-Hyacinth_macaw_%28Anodorhynchus_hyacinthinus%29_in_flight.JPG

Hyacinth Macaw in flight (c) Charlesjsharp. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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Positive answers to the following questions are an indication that the seller values the birds:

* Are the flights roomy enough to allow the bird to fly?

* Do the birds appear to be well-fed?

* Is the aviary clean?

The responses to these questions will help establish the general health of the birds and determine if they are compatible:

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* Do the birds tire easily?

* Are they in good feather?

* Do they behave like a pair of bonded birds?

* Do they stay close together?

* Do they defend their nest box?

* Are the bare facial patch and the periophthalmic skin (area around the eyes) a deep yellow?

Note: Healthy Hyacinths have deep yellow skin in these areas. Hyacinths have photosensitive skin, so any skin exposed to light will eventually turn yellow. Birds that are kept indoors may have lighter skin. Yet, it should never look pale and washed out.

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https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cd/Hyacinth_macaws_%28Anodorhynchus_hyacinthinus%29.JPG/640px-Hyacinth_macaws_%28Anodorhynchus_hyacinthinus%29.JPG?uselang=cs

(c) Charlesjsharp. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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It is not necessary to see the birds before they are purchased. However, before making full payment to the seller the birds should be examined by a qualified avian veterinarian. The birds should be tested for polyoma and psittacosis. I also suggest full blood chemistries, a CBC and cultures as well as a thorough visual exam. The results of the tests must be made available to the buyer and to the buyer’s veterinarian. The seller may refuse to pay for the tests in which case the wise buyer would either pay for the tests or decide against buying the birds.

There should be a written contract clearly outlining the conditions of the sale. The contract can include a provision that allows the buyer to return the birds for a full refund if the birds prove to be of the same sex. Should the purchaser waive pre-sale the medical examination then the contract should specify a period of time to have the birds examined. If the birds are not healthy, the seller should pay for medical expenses.

Some people may be selling young birds that grow up together. They hope that by having birds that grow up together that the two birds will develop a strong bond and quickly produce babies. This type of thinking can backfire. Sometimes when chicks grow up together they believe that they are siblings and will not want to mate with each other.

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Buying single Hyacinth Macaw

The same level of care must be exercised when buying a single bird as when buying a pair. It is better to acquire single birds that have been in the company of other Hyacinth Macaws if they are captive bred. It will be important that the birds realize that they are not humans or some other species of birds. Many pet Hyacinths can become good breeding birds provided they understand that they are Hyacinth Macaws.

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At what age can Hyacinth Macaws breed?

Birds should be their full physical size and emotionally mature before they are bred. Hyacinth Macaws are nearly full size by the time they are two and half years old. However, if their weight is regularly monitored then it becomes apparent that the females grow till they are about four years old and the males till they are six.

Female Hyacinths may be willing to breed when they are as young as three years old. Yet, these young birds are seldom emotionally mature and they will not be good mothers. It is possible for a three-year-old male to reproduce. However, it has been determined by surgical sexing that some males are still sexually immature when they are seven years old.

Little is known about how long Macaws can reproduce. According to Psittacine Aviculture by Schubot, Clubb and Clubb, the Macaws at Parrot Jungle (USA) were at their peak in production during their twenties. This may still be true with the young birds we keep today, however with the knowledge that we now have about diet and care I believe that peak production could stretch over a longer period of time.

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author: Kashmir Csaky

Title photo: (c) Lubomir Tomiska

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