Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Hyacinth Macaw

The Pantanal has two iconic species that all wildlife tourists want to see: the Hyacinth Macaw and the Jaguar. Both are spectacular in quite different ways and the Pantanal is the best place to see them. The Pantanal has many wonderful species of birds, but the Macaw is noteworthy as being perhaps the rarest and being now largely restricted in range to this area. Current population estimates are about 6,500 individual wild birds of which perhaps 5,000 are in the Pantanal.
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Like the Sunbittern, the Macaw was a must-see bird for us. In fact, it is no shrinking violet, if you’ll excuse the pun, being both the largest flying parrot and incredibly noisy. We saw our first ones on the first day, perched on the fence beside the road (the Transpantaneira) and they were present, with breeding sites, at all three lodges where we stayed. They’re up to a metre/39 inches in length and weight up to 1,700gms/60oz. Only the enigmatic Kakapo of New Zealand is heavier (up to 3,000g) but is, not surprisingly, flightless.
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Handbook of Birds of the World describes their voice as “Very loud croaking and screeching sounds including ‘kraaa’ and screeching ‘trara’ warning cry”: something of an understatement. The first four photos here were of a pair near Rio Claro lodge which first attracted my attention by the noise they were making, which reminded me of a very loud, traditional wooden football rattle. They clearly weren’t pleased to see me near what I assumed was their nesting tree, but the shape of their bills gives them a happy, welcoming appearance even if the calls and body language suggest otherwise.
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The Hyacinth Macaw lived up to its reputation. It’s a beautiful and fascinating bird. The plumage is a striking cobalt blue blending to more indigo on the upper surface of the wings, with the undersides of the flight feathers being dark grey.  The plumage contrasts wonderfully with the complementary chrome yellow bare skin on the head, an artistic touch suggestive of intelligent design. Unfortunately, its beauty makes it a popular cage bird which almost led to its demise, more about that shortly.
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They’re monogamous, normally maintaining the pair bond until the death of one partner, so they are often seen in pairs (second and fourth photos). They do not breed until they are about seven years old and have a life-span of perhaps thirty years. In the Pantanal they nest in hollows in trees, usually the Panama Tree (Sterculia apetala).  This is a soft-timbered member of the Mallow family (Malvaceae) prone to the formation of hollows from termites, fungi and woodpeckers. The Macaws don’t initiate but enlarge existing hollows as nesting sites, and often use the same site in consecutive years. They will also use the stumps of palm trees and in northeastern Brazil they also nest on cliffs.
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Typically they lay two eggs, but usually at most one young survives to fledging. The eggs and young are particularly vulnerable to predation by reptiles, birds and mammals because of the large size of the hollow and its entrance. Hyacinth Macaws are difficult to breed and rear in captivity for a variety of reasons including the specialised dietary requirements of both young and adult birds.
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In the Pantanal, the birds feed mainly on the nuts of two species of palm tree, the Acuri Palm (Scheelea phalerata) above and the Bocaiúva (Acrocomia aculeata). The Acuri fruits all year long and is the main source of food, while the Bocaiúva nuts ripen between September and December, coinciding with the peak period of hatching of the chicks.
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The nutcracker bill of Macaws are similar to those of Cockatoos, with a strong slender upper mandible aligning with a groove in the lower mandible and both can crack hard nuts with ease. The two groups are not closely related so the structures have evolved [were created] independently. Cockatoos are a purely Australasian family (Cacatuidae) while the Macaws belong to several, genera of South American Parrots (family Psittacidae, sensu stricto, or sub-family Arinae, depending on the taxonomic authority).
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The popularity of Hyacinth Macaws as cage birds almost led to their extinction in the wild in the 1980s. In this decade, perhaps 10,000 birds were trapped leaving only about 3,000 in total. The population also suffered from habitat destruction and removal of the trees on which they depend. Happily in 1990, the Hyacinth Macaw Project was started by the biologist Neives Guedes and has resulted in a tripling of the population to 5,000 in the Pantanal. You can read about it here World Wildlife Fund Brazil or download this pdf Hyacinth Macaw Project. There are, however, other populations in Brazil which have declined from a total of 1,500 birds to 1,000 in the same period, so the species is still listed as Vulnerable (2014), an improvement on its Endangered status in 2000.
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Ecotourism in the Pantanal has played its part too because of its economic importance and the other major icon, the Jaguar, has benefitted also. Boat trips from Porto Jofre in search of Jaguars is big business these days and some of the local jaguars have become quite habituated to throngs of boats and allow approach to within ten metres or so. We saw our first Jaguar crossing the road at Pixaim on our way to the Jaguar Lodge and subsequently spent two full days on boat trips when we saw another four, some of which we watched for long periods at close quarters. The one in the photo is a female which has  just emerged from hunting in the river and her fur is still wet. She is lactating, so we can suppose that she has some cubs hidden in the forest.
I’ve been steadily adding Brazilian and Chilean bird photos to the website at the rate of about one per day. If your interested in viewing them, start at the Recent Additions page which has thumbnail links to each of the species.
Greetings
Ian

Lee’s Addition:

Ian’s comment, “Current population estimates are about 6,500 individual wild birds of which perhaps 5,000 are in the Pantanal.” makes one want to hop on a plane and visit that area. Wow. Your “Bird List” would grow immensely.I am alway glad when Ian stops by to show some more of his birdwatching adventures. Those Hyacinth Macaws are so neat to see. We have only seen them in Zoos, but always thankful to see more of the Creator’s magnificent birds.

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31 KJV)
“For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:” (James 3:7 KJV)
Macaws are definitely “tameable.”
Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) Cincinnati Zoo 9-5-13 by Lee

Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) by Lee

Ian’s Bird of the Week

In Our Place

Magellanic Penguin Swims 5,000 Miles For Reunion

Magellanic Penguin Swims 5,000 Miles For Reunion With Man Who Saved His Live

Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) ©Globo TV

Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) ©Globo TV

Best Buds

Dr. Jim sent this article to me today and I thought we would work it up. After checking online, there were quite a few news articles about Dindim the Magellanic Penguin and his rescuer. Here is the article:

Interesting Things from Smiley CentralToday’s most heartwarming story is brought to you from a beach in Brazil.

It’s the story of a South American Magellanic penguin who swims 5,000 miles each year to be reunited with the man who saved his life.

Retired bricklayer and part time fisherman Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, who lives in an island village just outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, found the tiny penguin, covered in oil and close to death,
lying on rocks on his local beach in 2011. Joao cleaned the oil off the penguin’s feathers and fed him a daily diet of fish to build his strength. He named him Dindim.

After a week, he tried to release the penguin back into the sea. But, the bird wouldn’t leave. ‘He stayed with me for 11 months and then, just after he changed his coat with new feathers, he disappeared,’ Joao recalls.

And, just a few months later, Dindim was back. He spotted the fisherman on the beach one day and followed him home.

The prodigal penguin returns. Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) ©Globo TV

The prodigal penguin returns. Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) ©Globo TV

Look who’s back

For the past five years, Dindim has spent eight months of the year with Joao and is believed to spend the rest of the time breeding off the coast of Argentina and Chile. It’s thought he swims up to 5,000 miles each year to be reunited with the man who saved his life.

Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) ©Globo TV

Dindim the Magellanic Penguin ©Globo TV

‘I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,’ Joao told Globo TV. ‘No one else is allowed to touch him. He pecks them if they do. He lays on my lap, lets me give him showers, and allows me to feed him sardines and to pick him up. It’s thought Dindim believes the fisherman is also a penguin ‘Everyone said he wouldn’t return but he has been coming back to visit me for the past four years. He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February and every year he becomes more affectionate as he appears even happier to see me.’

Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) ©Globo TV

Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) ©Globo TV

But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name. (3 John 1:14 KJV)

Biologist Professor Krajewski, who interviewed the fisherman for Globo TV, told The Independent: ‘I have never seen anything like this before. I think the penguin believes Joao is part of his family and probably a penguin as well. ‘When he sees him he wags his tail like a dog and honks with delight. And, just like that, the world seems a kinder place again.

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You might want to check out these articles as some of them have videos of these two.

Penguins belong to the SPHENISCIFORMES Order, the Penguins – Spheniscidae Family.

Wordless Birds

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Creation Moments – Columbus Day article

B. C. – Before Columbus

King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. (1 Kings 9:26)

Columbus' ships

Columbus’ ships

Normally, it would not be unusual to find a stone with engraving on it in South America. But a stone found in 1872 in Brazil is unusual, since Aztec, Mayan and Incan civilizations never lived in that region. Besides, the engraving on the stone was in Phoenician. Its discoverer, who did not know Phoenician, sent it to authorities who gave it to the head of the national museum. He recognized the ancient language and translated it. It reads, “We are the Sons of Canaan from Sidon, the city of the King. Commerce has cast us on this distant shore, a land of mountains.”

Could 7th century B.C. Phoenicians have sailed as far as South America in search of commerce? In the ancient world, Phoenicians were known as the greatest commercial sailors of their day. But there is a modern bias against seeing ancient peoples as being as smart and resourceful as we are today, so the inscription has generally been considered a hoax. Then, in the 1960s, the original rubbing made of the inscription turned up at a scholarly auction in the United States. A modern expert on ancient languages studied the rubbing and concluded that the inscription must be authentic. It contains quirks of the Phoenician language that were unknown even to scholars in the 19th century.

While we today may know more facts, the ancients were no less intelligent and resourceful than we are today. That’s consistent with the Bible’s picture of man as God’s highest visible creation, rather than evolution’s gradually improving creature.

Prayer: I glorify Your Name, O Lord, for making us the way You have. Amen.

References: Archeology, “Before Columbus or the Vikings,” Science, May 1968.

©2009 Creation Moments

See Also:
Phoenicians in Brazil
Archeology: Before Columbus or the Vikings,” Time, Friday, May. 24, 1968

Birds of the Bible – Paraiba, Brazil

Paraiba state in Brazil

Paraiba state in Brazil

Because one of our men left for Brazil to become a missionary and we already have a missionary there, I was wondering if they might see different Birds of the Bible than we see up here in North America. So, this is the result of that search. The first thing I found out is that “Brazil has one of the richest bird diversities in the world, with more than 1700 species of birds, about 57% of the bird species recorded for all of South America. That fact was enough to make me realize I might be busy for awhile doing this. With the help of “Avibase – the world bird database” I was able to narrow the list down to Paraiba, a State, in Brazil, which is the area of both our missionaries.

Technically all birds are mentioned in the Bible because the Lord created them on the fifth day of creation. The list here is only of the “named” kinds in the Bible.

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  • Quails – Spot-winged Wood-Quail
  • Cormorants – Neotropic Cormorant (here)
  • Bitterns – Pinnated Bitterns
  • Heron – Cocoi, Tricolored (here), Little Blue (here),  Striated, Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons (here), Boat-billed Heron, Rufescent Tiger-Herons, and Zigzag Heron
  • Storks – Wood Stork (here) and Jabiru
  • Vultures – American Black and Turkey (here), Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Andean Condor, King Vulture
  • Osprey – Osprey (here)
  • Kites – Gray-headed, Swallow-tailed (here), Pearl, White-tailed (here), Snail (here), Slender-billed, Double-toothed, Plumbeous Kites
  • Hawks – Tiny, Sharp-shinned, Bicolored , Crane, White-necked, Mantled, Rufous Crab-Hawk, Great Black-Hawk, Savanna,  Harris’s , Black-collared, Gray, Roadside, Short-tailed (here), White-tailed (here), Zone-tailed (here)
  • Eagles – Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Crested, Harpy, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Black Hawk-Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle
  • Falcons Family – Laughing, Barred Forest-Falcon, Lined Forest-Falcon, Collared Forest-Falcon, American Kestrel (here), Aplomado and Peregrine Falcon (here), Bat Falcon and Orange-breasted Falcon, Southern and Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Lapwings – Pied and Southern Lapwing
  • Doves – Eared, Scaled, White-tipped (here), and Grey-fronted Doves
  • Ground-Doves – Common, Plain-breasted, Ruddy (here), Picui, Blue
  • Quail-Doves – Violaceous and Ruddy (here)
  • Pigeons – Rock (here), Picazuro, Pale-vented
  • Cuckoos – Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Pearly-breasted Cuckoo, Mangrove Cuckoo, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Squirrel Cuckoo, Little Cuckoo, Guira Cuckoo, Striped Cuckoo,
  • Owls – Barn Owl (here), Great Horned (here), Mottled, Crested, Spectacled, Burrowing (here), Buff-fronted, Striped Owls
  • Screech Owls – Tropical
  • Pygmy-Owls – Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
  • Nighthawks and Nightjars – Short-tailed Nighthawk, Least Nighthawk, Least Nighthawk,  Lesser Nighthawk (here), Common Nighthawk (here), Nacunda Nighthawk, Common Pauraque, Ocellated Poorwill, Rufous Nightjar, Little Nightjar, Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Pygmy Nightjar
  • Swifts – White-collared (here), Biscutate, Fork-tailed Palm-Swift and Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
  • Swallows – Brown-chested Martin, Gray-breasted Martin;  White-winged, Blue-and-white, Southern Rough-winged, Collared Sand Martin/Bank Swallow (here), Barn (here) Swallows
  • Sparrows – Pectoral, Saffron-billed, Grassland, Rufous-collared and House (here) Sparrows

Birds of the Bible that are missing in Paraiba, Brazil are the Cranes, Hoopoe, Partridge, Peacock, Pelicans, Ravens, Swan, Pelicans. At least from what I can find out so far.