Posts Tagged 'Hyacinth Macaw'

Happy 25th Birthday, Margaret!

National Aquarium is celebrating a very special birthday today: Margaret, our blue hyacinth macaw, is turning 25!

With the help of our Animal Programs staff, Margaret started her day off with a special enrichment surprise:

national aquarium hyacinth macaw

Hyacinth macaws are one of the largest species of parrot – they are typically 40 inches in length and can have a wingspan of up to 5 feet! They’re on of the few species of parrot that can even mimic human speech. Margaret can say “Hello” (and she loves to say it a lot!) and is learning to say her name!

national aquarium hyacinth macaw

Did you know? Hyacinth macaws have beaks specially designed for cracking the hardest nuts in the world, the Brazil nut!

In addition to a powerful beak, Margaret has some pretty powerful and nimble feet that help her climb trees, hold food and even play with toys (or in today’s case, rip through a present box filled with newspaper and treats!).

national aquarium hyacinth macaw

Hyacinth macaws can be found in parts of Brazil, eastern Bolivia, and northeastern Paraguay. Unlike most parrots that prefer tropical rain forest habitats, this species of macaw usually makes its home in lightly forested areas such as palm swamps and flooded grasslands! At the Aquarium, you can see Margaret during our Animal Encounters throughout the day.

Can’t stop by in person to wish Margaret a happy birthday? Leave her a note in the comments section or on our Facebook page

National Aquarium at the TEDxDeExtinction Conference!

On March 15th, researchers and theorists from around the world gathered at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC to discuss the real possibility of bringing species like the woolly mammoth, the passenger pigeon and the Cuban red macaw back from extinction. This first-ever TEDxDeExtinction conference was considered to be the global introduction to a new field in conservation biology, “de-extinction.” By closely examining the DNA of museum specimens, this emerging field of scientists hopes to incorporate the genes responsible for certain traits of the extinct species into the genome of a similar species.

During Friday’s talk, National Aquarium staff and our blue hyacinth macaw, Margaret, were on hand to talk to the 500+ attendees about the immediate changes we can make as a global society to PREVENT species extinction. As exciting as this new concept is, scientists have also voiced concern that de-extinction will distract from the conservation of species like the hyacinth macaw.

TED prize winner Sylvia Earle stopped by to say hello to Margaret during Friday's event.

TED prize winner Sylvia Earle stopped by to say hello to Margaret during Friday’s event.

Native to the Patanal region of South America, hyacinth macaws are an endangered species. Similar to the Cuban red macaw – one of the species being discussed on stage as a candidate for de-extinction – habitat loss, local hunting practices and the pet trade are all factors contributing to the decline of hyacinth macaw populations in the wild. Unfortunately, more than a century after the extinction of the Cuban red macaw, birds like Margaret are still facing these human-imposed challenges to survival.

Margaret, now 24 years old, came to our organization from a private home. As is the case with many exotic pets, pet owners under-estimate size (from head to the tip of her tail, Margaret is about 3 ft. long!) and cost of care and eventually, can no longer care for the animal. Luckily, Margaret’s previous owner worked with the Aquarium to find her a good home. Margaret is now an advocate for the preservation of her species and others like her!

Stay tuned for more updates on TEDxDeExtinction! 

Meet Baltimore’s Newest TV Star

visitorexperienceanimalencounterwithkidstaffwithmargaret1 One of Baltimore’s residents will soon become a national television celebrity!  On January 22, the National Aquarium’s very own Margaret traveled from Baltimore to New York City to be featured as a guest during a taping of The Martha Stewart show.  Margaret was also joined by Liz Evans, Manager of Animal Training for the National Aquarium, because she is a little different than the typical guests of most talk shows: Margaret is a Hyacinth Macaw, an endangered species of bird now found in the Pantanal region of Brazil.

The show airs February 10, on WBAL (Ch 11) at 11:00 am. Animal trainer Beth Lindenau and Margaret will also be on WBAL’s evening news between 5-6 pm.

As part of a joint venture between the National Aquarium and the Maryland Zoo, Margaret and Liz appeared on a segment of the show to speak about endangered birds.  Once inhabiting several countries in South America, the Hyacinth Macaws numbers were reduced due to the usual factors of habitat loss and conversation of land for agricultural use and cattle farming.

The Hyacinth Macaw Project is dedicated to saving these birds with an educational program involving local farmers in the Pantanal region of Brazil.  The project has been a great success: the population more than doubled in the first ten years of the project, with 3,000 birds reported in the year 2,000.  The population has now grown to more than 5,000 birds.

Continue reading ‘Meet Baltimore’s Newest TV Star’


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