A guest favorite here at the National Aquarium, Margaret the hyacinth macaw regularly participates in presentations in our overlook area with our animal programs team. Her favorite food is coconut, which she is capable of cracking open! One of her favorite things to do is interact with guests, especially our younger visitors.
Our team can pick up on Margaret’s behavioral cues and interpret her likes and dislikes, as well as her emotional state. Staff strive to give Margaret her own choices throughout her day to allow her to have control of her own environment. She can choose to participate in medical exams, as she is trained to offer her right wing during blood draws and stay still during full examinations!
Margaret has developed the ability to communicate to our team by ringing a doorbell to indicate that she wants to return to her home environment. Currently, Margaret is learning to indicate which way she would like to go during enrichment walks by touching different arrows.
Hyacinth macaws such as Margaret are among the largest parrot species and can be identified by their royal blue coloration. They also have yellow coloration circling their eyes and under their solid black beaks. These macaws have four toes, two of which are front-facing, and the other two face backward. These feet are great for climbing trees, perching on branches and grabbing food.
Hyacinth macaws’ beaks are one of their most unique features. Their black beaks are specially designed for cracking the hardest nuts in the world, which are among the macaw’s favorite meals. Other than nuts, hyacinth macaws also eat fruits and vegetables.
Hyacinth macaws are found throughout South America in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. While most parrots prefer rain forest habitats, hyacinth macaws reside in lightly forested areas such as flooded grasslands and swamps. In these habitats, macaws use vocalizations to communicate with each other. With their extremely loud “contact call” vocalization, they can communicate with other macaws on the opposite side of their forest or habitat!
Stay tuned for more updates!