What is that blue parrot in the new animatied movie Blu?

By Karen

(05/04/2011)From the makers of Ice Age The Movie comes new release Rio. This fun packed family animation features a rare blue macaw parrot called Blu. He thinks he is the last parrot of his breed, so when he hears that there is one surviving female, he heads down to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to hook up with the feisty Jewel. The movie features Ann Hathaway as Jewel and Jesse Eisenberg as Blu. It was premiered in Rio on March 25. Blu is based on a real blue Brazilian parrot, The Spix’s Macaw.

Rio and Amazon Vacation

What kind of parrot is Blu?

‘Blu’ is based on Spix’s Macaw; an almost extinct blue macaw parrot from Brazil. Like Blu and Jewel, the real Spix’s Macaws are bright blue with a slightly lighter blue on their head and under parts. The underside of the wings and tail are black. Adults have a black beak and feet but young Spix’s Macaws often have a white stripe down the center. These Brazilian parrots are 55-57 cm long and live for 20-30 years in the wild. When mating they make a noise like "whichaka" by creating a low rumble in the abdomen bringing the sound up to a high pitched end of the vocal cords. These bright and noisy birds are unfortunately easy to spot by smugglers.

The Loneliest Bird in the World

The story of the last Spix’s parrot is a sad and poignant story. In the 1980s, naturalists thought the Macaw had disappeared. Then, in 1985, 5 birds were found in Bahia, Brazil. Unfortunately, by 1990, four had either died or been caught by trappers. This left only one 10-year-old male living along in the semi-arid Caatinga area. For 10 years, conservationists and naturalists observed this lonely bird, keeping close tabs on its movements in order to record how this almost extinct bird lived. In 2000 the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Natural Renewable Resources (IBAMA) sadly announced that the last Spix’s Macaw had disappeared. After two months of searching, the Institute concluded that the last Little Blue Macaw had probably died.

Why did Spix’s Parrot become extinct?

Spix’s Macaw comes from just one area of Brazil: the dry Caatinga area of north Bahia state, Brazil. It is there that the Caraibiera riparian woodland, and favourite nesting place of the birds, grows along the river banks. When much of the land was cleared for cattle raising, the birds’ natural habitat was greatly reduced. Poaching was probably what wiped out the Spinx’s Macaw in the wild, though. Despite being highly illegal, poachers would capture these beautiful birds to sell overseas as pets for as much as $40, 000.

Salvador and Rio Vacation

Is this the end of the story for Spix’s Macaw?

The future for Blu’s breed is happily, not so bleak. Conservation efforts are focused on buying farms in the Caatinga area and allowing the land to revert to its natural state; providing a habitat for Spix’s Macaw and other endangered birds.

The biggest focus is on an international breeding program. There are currently 85 parrots in captivity inlcuing 4 in Sao Paolo Zoo and 56 at the Al-Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP), Quatar. Thanks to the last lonely Spix’s Macaw, breeders have lots of information on how the bird behaved in the wild and the hope is that in the future, the Little Blue Macaw will again fly freely in the Carabibeira ribarian woodlands of Bahia.

Bahia, Brazil

Spix’s Macaws come from one of the most beautiful and fascinating parts of South America; Bahia,Brazil. Bahia’s main city, Salvador is a vibrant city with a historical center, beautiful beaches and a lively tradition of street music and dance. There are crystal clear waters in the diving and snorkeling center of Parque Nacional Marinho de Abrolhos and the stunning interior in Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina is a trekkers paradise.

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NB Photos from www.bluemacaws.org

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