Spixs mascaw is the member of Psittacidae family (the family of true parrots). Cayanopsitta spixii (Spixs mascaw) is also called as little blue mascaw.
These birds are medium sized. They have size of about 56 centimeters or 22 inches, weight of about 360 grams and wingspan of about 64 centimeters. They usually appear blue. Both males and females are similar except that females are smaller.
They are native to Brazil. They mostly live in deserts and woodlands. Their primary diet is seeds.
The predators of spixs mascaw include feral cats, rats and monkeys. Their conservation status is extinct in the wild due to excessive habitat loss.
Spixs Mascaw Adaptations:
Some of the adaptations of spixs mascaw are,
- These birds have curved and giant beaks for cracking nuts and seeds.
- They have colourful feathers and streamlined body.
- They have scaly tongues that exhibit a bone for tapping fruits.
- These birds have intense colouration. These vivid colors are because of the sexual choice.
- Their toes are adapted to have a grip on branches.
- Their feathers are puffed up and wings can’t be folded which make them look big in size.
Spixs Mascaw Age:
The average lifespan of spixs mascaw is 20 to 40 years. The lifespan varies with different species of spixs mascaw. Larger mascaws may live long.
It is difficult to know exact age of spixs mascaw because most of them have been illegally taken from the wild.
What Mascaw Is Extinct?
The International Union for Conservation of Nature recorded Spixs mascaw as “Extinct in the wild”. There are many reasons behind their extinction which include hunting, attack by the African bees, trapping activities and habitat encroachment.
Blue Spixs Mascaw Habitat:
These birds are found in inferior northeastern parts of Brazil. They are seen in the arid region known as Tabebuia caraiba woodlands which is around the Sao Francisco River.
The abundant vegetation is known as caatinga vegetation that is near the river. The perches of these caraibeira trees are the important nesting sites of spixs mascaw. These birds also use these trees for foraging and roosting. They live along the crown of trees in cavities. These trees can grow along the banks of rivers by extending 26 feet into the air and are surrounded by thorn bush vegetation.
These birds exhibit unique habitat because of the pattern and variability of trees, vegetation and watercourses.
Can The Spixs Mascaw Be Saved?
The predators of spixs mascaw are feral cats, rats, monkeys and mongooses. The eggs and young ones are more threatened by these predators because of their inability to fly.
The last wild mascaw was disappeared in 2000. In 2016, another wild mascaw was found which raised the hope of seeing more population of this bird in future but it was also released from captivity. This bird mated with green Illiger’s mascaw because of the unavailability of the mate of its own species.
Both of them exhibited some courtship rituals like flying together during day and escorting of female’s back to her nest by male during night. Scientists also introduced a captive female spixs mascaw but the experiment failed because female died without producing any chick. A hypbrid offspring was produced that too died.
These birds are kept in captivity where they have seen breeding properly. This is the measure taken by Brazilian government to save spixs mascaw. However, these birds can only go back to the wild after restoring the habitat. Some protected areas have been made in the state of Bahia to provide spixs mascaw with the proper habitat.
Spixs Mascaw Cause Of Extinction:
There are many causes of extinction of spixs mascaw. Predation is one of them. Predators like rats, feral cats and monkeys are a huge threat to these birds. Young ones and eggs are more threatened because of their inabilty to escape. When adults are threatened by predators, they start making loud noises and flap their wings as a response. Hunting is another reason. This is done by both the settlers and indingenous people. The introduction of African bees is reducing spixs mascaw’s population because these bees attack them. Habitat loss is the major reason. Many of the Caraibeira trees are destroyed. That’s why the birds are unable to roost, forage and form nests.
The spixs mascaw has become extinct because of excessive deforestation and agricultural development.
Spixs Mascaw Characteristics:
Some of the characteristics of spixs mascaw are,
- The spixs mascaw is medium sized bird and belongs to true parrot’s family.
- They have a usual blue appearance, grey coloured head, white patches on the sides of eyes. The lower parts are pale in colour.
- These birds are smaller as compared to other species of mascaw.
- These birds have more delicate appearance.
- They have long feet and tail that enable them to have grip on the perches. They also have long wings that they often spread.
- Both the males and females are similar in appearance.
- Juvenile spixs mascaws exhibit pink coloured lining along the outer edge of beak.
- They are endemic to Brazil and live in woodlands.
- They feed on fruits and seeds.
- The spixs mascaw has become the rarest bird because of its extinction.
Spixs Mascaw Lifecycle:
Spixs mascaws are monogamous. When mascaws were abundant in number, males used to compete with others for finding mates as well as nesting sites. These birds form lifelong bonds with their mates. Courtship rituals include flying together and escorting of the female back to her nest.
The breeding takes place between November and March. However, the breeding time and pattern are quite different in wild and captivity. In captivity, breeding starts in August. In wild, female lays 2 to 3 eggs in the nesting sites of caraibeira trees.
The incubation period is about 26 days. After incubation, the eggs start hatching. After hatching, the young bird takes about two months for fledging. After few more months, the bird will become fully independent.
In captivity, chicks become sexually mature at the age of about 7 years.
Spixs Mascaw Diet:
Spixs mascaws are omnivores. They feed on fruits, seeds, nuts, cactus meat and tree bark. They have specifically adapted curved and sharp beak for cracking tough nuts.
In wild, they play a role in dispersing seeds in the environment. In captivity, there is the availability of variety of food including palm, seeds, fruits and some supplements of minerals and vitamins.
What Not To Feed A Mascaw?
Improper nutrition leads to many health problems. Bird’s health depends on the quality of food. Mascaws naturally eat variety of fruits, nuts and seeds.
You can also feed your bird with any of the nutritious food that you and your family eat. This can include meat, cheese and egg. Some calcium and mineral supplements should also be provided.
You shouldn’t give junk food like chocolate, anything that contains caffeine etc to your bird.
Spixs Mascaw Facts:
Some of the facts about spixs mascaw are as follows,
- Spixs mascaw is one of the species of mascaw that is also called as little blue mascaw.
- They belong to Psittacidae family.
- They live in flocks.
- They can mimic human voices
- The most distinctive feature of these birds is blue colouration of their feathers.
- They live in woodlands and deserts.
- They are omnivores and monogamous.
- They have diurnal lifestyle.
- They are native to Brazil.
- The incubation period of these birds is 26 days.
- Their conservation status is extinct in the wild because of the biggest threat of habitat loss as well as predators like rats and feral cats.
- They can live up to 40 years.
Spixs Mascaw Flying:
Spixs mascaw is a species of true parrots having large blue coloured feathers. There is only one wild mascaw left that has been seen flying high.
Spixs Mascaw Feathers:
The spixs mascaw is the smallest among all of the species of mascaw. They have usual blue appearance because their whole body is covered with feathers that are dark blue in colour. These feathers give them attractive appearance. The feathers are puffed up which make them look large in size.
How Many Spixs Mascaws Are Left?
It is quite difficult to estimate spixs mascaws’s exaxt population but roughly 160 individuals are seen in captivity. Some of them are under the control of wildlife preservation programs and some of them under private individuals.
When Did Spixs Mascaw Go Extinct?
The spixs mascaw was declared extinct by International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2000. The last known wild mascaw was seen in 2000.
Spixs Mascaw History:
The species of spixs mascaw was first described by Georg Marcgrave who was a German naturalist. He introduced the species of spixs mascaw first while working in the state of Pernambuco in 1638.
This bird is named after Johann Baptist Von Spixs who was also a German naturalist. He collected first specimen of this bird in 1819 near the river of Sao Francisco.
In 1903, another bird was seen in the state of Piaui. In 1974, Helmut Sick who was a Brazilian ornithologist observed group of three birds in northwest Bahia.
In 1980, when there was illegal bird trading, it starts declining and by early 80s it was declared extinct in the wild. The last wild mascaw was seen in 2000.
Spixs mascaw is one the rarest birds in the world. It belongs to the family of true parrots. These birds are well known for their mimicking nature. They are extremely attractive because of their beautiful blue plumages. They lived in woodlands of Brazil but now they have become extinct due to predation and excessive habitat loss.