The members of this group were historically frequently confused with each other as the differences are mainly in size and some slight differences in facial pattern and even though all of them have a mostly blue plumage, the colors differ in tone.
The identification proved particularly challenging when working with diseased specimen or only their skins, as size consideration, shape and color of the facial patterns and plumage coloration were more obscured in diseased birds.
Additionally, reported sightings by locals should always be accepted with a degree of skepticism, due to their limited knowledge of the different species and the disadvantage of likely having seen a bird only from a distance and for a short moment.
The following macaws are typically referred to as “Blue Macaws”
Hyacinthine Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)
Range: Northern Brazil in localities along northern reaches of Amazon west to Rio Tapajós and south across central and southern Brazil from Piauí and southern part of Maranhão across Goiás and western Bahia to Minas Gerais and Mato Grosso; eastern Bolivia and most northeastern part of Paraguay.
Size: The largest flying parrot species of all – averaging up to 1 meter (40 inches) in length and weighing in at 1200 to 1450 g.
Status: Rare and Endangered. The Hyacinth population in the wild is estimated to consist of about five thousand individuals. It is assumed that several thousand of them exist in captivity.
Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari)
Range: Northeast Bahia, northern Brazil.
Size: 70 – 75 cm (27.5 – 30 in)
Status: Critically Endangered – In 2000, only about 150 individuals were estimated to still have existed in the wild. Due to ongoing conservation efforts, their numbers have since increased. More recent estimates (2008) state that there are about 455 individuals in the wild and 41 kept in captivity.
Glaucous Macaw (Anodorhynchus glaucus)
Range: Northeast Argentina in provinces of Corrientes and Misiones; Artigas Province in northwest Uruguay and in Brazil states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina
Size: 70 – 72 cm (27.5 – 28.5 in)
Status: Believed to be extinct.
Spix’s Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii)
Range: The rarest Macaw in the world. It is believed that the last wild Spix’s macaw died at the end of 2000. It was formerly found in Northeast Brazil, southern Piauí and northwest Bahia; possibly also most southerly area of Maranhão, northeast Goiás and Pernambuco.
Size: 56cm (21.8 in)
Status: Extinct in the wild.
Sometimes included …
Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna)
Range: Eastern Panama through Columbia, except the Cauca Valley, and West Narino to eastern and western Ecuador and northern Peru. Through Venezuela and Brazil to Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina
Size: 76 – 84 cm (30 – 33 inches)