What Is a Lear's Macaw?

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

The Lear's macaw, or indigo macaw, is a rare breed of macaw that is native to Bahia, a northern area of Brazil. This type of macaw is identified by its bright blue feathers and high-pitch squawk, among other features. It is also known by its scientific name, Anodorhynchus leari. Since it is endangered, significant efforts have been put into saving the species from extinction.


Like many species of macaws, the Lear's macaw has brightly colored feathers. It can grow from about 28 inches (71.1 cm) to nearly 36 inches (about 91.4 cm) in length. Its beak is black and quite strong, and it has black eyes that are each surrounded by a bright yellow ring. The neck and head of the Lear's macaw is blue-green in color while its body is a lighter blue and its tail and wings are bright blue. The bird even has light yellow feathers on either side of its beak to complete its colorful plumage.

The favorite food of the Lear's macaw usually is licuri palm fruit. The fruit is surrounded by a hard shell, yet the macaws have figured out how to break open the shell by wedging it open using branches and their beaks. Scientists have estimated that the bird is capable of cracking open the fruit in about 20 seconds and that an adult Lear's macaw will consume over 300 pieces of licuri palm fruit each day, usually in the mornings and afternoons.

Although the Lear's macaw was first discovered in the mid-1800s, the origin of the bird was not known until the late 1970s when researchers concluded it was from the northern section of Brazil referred to as Bahia. Today, the Lear's macaw is considered an endangered species — it is estimated that only a few hundred live in the wild and only several dozen live in captivity. The birds are endangered for several reasons. First, they have suffered from loss of habitat due to farming and timber cutting. In addition, their brightly colored feathers made them popular for many years on the exotic pet black market. Also, they are prone to destroy entire fields of crops, such as corn, making them a target for angry farmers.

Mainly due to conservation and preservation efforts, the Lear's macaw is slowly growing in number today. Local and international education on the plight of the birds has been undertaken as well. In addition, new research is helping the scientific community learn more about the native habitat of the birds to ensure that they can be protected for future generations.

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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