The beautiful blue hues of Brazil's Spix’s macaw were made famous in the 2011 animated film Rio. Recently, they have made headlines for becoming one of the latest bird species to succumb to extinction.
Brazil's Spix's macaws extinct in the wild
With their incredible blue colour, cheeky but cute faces, and extraordinary tails, these transfixing birds have joined a list of eight bird species officially confirmed, or deemed highly likely, to be extinct in the wild.
The announcement was made just a few weeks ago after an 8-year study by BirdLife International. Of the eight bird species, five originated from the South American continent, with Brazil losing four.
Habitat destruction and black market trade kills Spix's macaws
Spix's macaws were first deemed threatened in the 1980s following destruction of their natural habit as well as a robust illegal bird trade. Numbers in the wild had dwindled so dramatically that naturalist Dr. Paul Roth was only able to identify two remaining in their natural environment in 1987.
Various captive programs were established to help retain and grow Spix's numbers, however the last official sighting of one of these blue beauties in the wild was in 2000. A sighting in 2016 was believed to be from an escaped captive.
Blu raises global awareness
A starring role in the 2011 animated film Rio saw the Spix's macaw gain global awareness. But despite the magnificent efforts displayed by lead character Blu and his newfound love Jewel, the film may have come too late in the fight against this bird's survival.
According to reports, about 60 Spix’s macaws remain in captivity, but hope for finding any in the wild has pretty much all but disappeared.
Source: BirdLife International
Photo credits: Etna, 1984 (Wikimedia Commons) and Screengrab, Rio film