M is for Lear's Macaw
Lear’s macaw is very similar to the Hyacinth macaw only smaller. They are found in Caatinga, North East Brazil.
Lear's macaw is 70–75 cm (28–30 in) long and weighs around 950 g (2.09 lb). It is metallic blue with a faint, often barely visible, tinge of green, and a yellow patch of skin at the base of the heavy, black bill.
Both species have the strongest beaks in the Psittacidae family of true parrots, capable of easily breaking open the large fruits of different palm trees.
This gives them a starring role in dispersing the seeds of at least 18 plant species across their range. The macaws carry the seeds distances of up to a mile (1.6 kilometers) from where they picked the fruit. Both macaw species even engage in the unusual practice of tertiary dispersal, where they carried fruits to their nests that had previously been regurgitated by cattle.
Both species must be shored up not just for their conservation, but also to restore their ecological functions in the threatened ecosystems they inhabit.
There are just around 1,200 Lear macaws in small, fragmented ranges of 50 km (30 mi) in radius, having once abounded across 845,000 km2 (325,000 mi2) in the Caatinga.
The Caatinga has been heavily deforested by the expansion of livestock pasture, which has affected the regeneration of the licuri palm, considered the main food source for Lear’s macaw. Actions to conserve the macaw have thus centered on the regeneration and preservation of the licuri palm. The study indicates that the Pantanal and Cerrado are also suffering rapid deforestation as a result of the expansion of farmland and livestock.