The beautiful, brightly colored Spix’s Macaw (also knows as the little blue macaw) was marked as critically endangered in 1994. Now, the species was confirmed by a new study to be extinct in the wild.
The gorgeous bird was made famous as Blu, the lead in the movie Rio. The whole plot of the film revolved around the parrot fearing he was the last of his species. Sadly, it is believed that the birds had already disappeared from their natural jungle habitats nearly a dozen years before the movie was even released.
Nonprofit wildlife group Birdlife International has reported that, due to heavy deforestation in Brazil, the forest the birds call home has been cleared. Critically, its main source of food comes from a specific kind of tree, the Caraiba tree, in which it also typically nested. These trees take hundreds of years to grow, and they have been devastated from centuries of human intervention, which has taken Spix’s Macaw down as well.
The Spix’s was also vulnerable to human-introduced predators such as rats and cats.
There is some good news, however: an estimated 60-80 birds exist in captivity. So while the Spix’s is on its last leg as a species, they are only extinct in the wild. There was some excitement around a lone macaw sighting in the forest a few years ago; however, it was determined that the parrot was likely an escapee.
Sadly, it is unlikely the macaws, or any of the other South American birds declared extinct this year, will be able to make a wild comeback.