Friday, July 08, 2016

Spix's McCaw Resurrected from Extinction

Shakespeare wrote that there are more things in heaven and Earth than thought by man.  The reappearance of Spix's macaw (Cyanositta spixii) after a fifteen year absence in the wild proves the rule.  The species, made famous in the animated movie "Rio", was considered by science to be probably extinct in the wild.  Only about 130 captive individuals survived the onslaught of forest habitat destruction and the pet trade.  Then, in June this year, farmer Nauto Oliveira spotted a macaw near Curaçá and recorded its flight and call.  SAVE Brazil (Society for the Conservation of Birds in Brazil) confirmed the macaw is a Spix.  Conservationists are elated since the sighting means reintroduction of surviving macaws can be accomplished successfully.  If a wild bird can find sufficient dry Caatinga forest habitat to live in, so can released birds if managed properly. The hope is the macaw is not alone and has a mate. [photo] Over 100,000 acres of their dry forest habitat around the small city is now protected.

Spix's macaw was probably never very widespread.  It was first reported by scientists in 1819 and was not seen again until 1903.  In 1986 searchers found three individuals, but poachers took those. Over the next two decades only a few more birds were located.  In 2000 the macaw seemed to have disappeared until the recent sighting. The local community has embraced the bird or birds, setting up anti-poaching patrols.  Spix's macaw is now an icon of the city and residents are anticipating its reintroduction into the wild.