Lear’s macaw: Heritage of the Brazilian fauna
According to historical accounts, the species was identified in the mid-19th century by Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon's nephew
Caatinga is the most biodiverse semi-arid biome in the world, capable of sheltering a unique flora, as well as a diverse fauna with a high number of endemic species, such as the Lear’s macaw. The bird has a greenish-blue coloration on the head and neck, with cobalt blue wings and tail, and it can reach about 75 cm in length.
According to historical accounts, the species was identified in the mid-19th century by Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s nephew. He was responsible for naming the bird, which honors Edward Lear, an English painter and writer who drew the previously unknown bird in the early 1830s and ended up bringing it to Europe through his art. Then the bird actually made it to the continent, this time locked up in ships.
However, it was only located in nature in the 1970s, when it started to be seen in the Caatinga of Northeast Bahia. Today, they live around the cities of Jeremoabo, Canudos and Euclides da Cunha.
Raso da Catarina: A flock of birds in Canudos
Studies developed since 2008 by the group of researchers from Qualis Consultoria Ambiental indicate that there is only one population of Lear’s macaw in the world, located 20 km from the city of Canudos, in the Ecoregion of Raso da Catarina.
The region is known as the home of the Lear’s macaw asit was the stage where this vulnerable species was discovered in nature There, it is possible to watch the flocks of the birds that, at sunrise, leave their nests and fly up to 60 km to the areas where they feed.
At dawn, they go out in search of their favorite “dish”, the licuri, a coconut that grows in bunches on palm trees typical of the region. While a group feeds, at least one individual remains perched on higher branches, taking turns with other macaws in this surveillance role. At sunset, they return to their home.
Due to its beauty, the Lear’s macaw has always been a constant target of illegal capture for animal trafficking, which has caused its population to be drastically reduced. Nowadays, trafficking is one of the main threats to the survival of the birds. The good news is that, due to the numerous partners protecting the species, and the development of the Voltalia Group’s conservation programs in the regions, it is already possible to identify an expansion of the population of the species.
One of the actions to preserve the area of the macaws is in Canudos, a region known for the resistance against the oppression of the republican troops, led by Antônio Conselheiro. A few kilometers from the city’s downtown is Toca Velha, a valley formed by sandstone walls that earned its name because it is the place where the macaws make their burrows, inside the holes typical of these rocks.
The site has controlled visitor entrance, which ensures the tranquility for the reproduction of the species and inhibits the action of bird traffickers. An unforgettable experience for those who enjoy watching birds in their natural habitat.