The Extinction of the Spix’s Macaw

Ethan Cartier

More stories from Ethan Cartier


Photo Courtesy of Emma Johnson

The latest addition of the “That’s so Random” series.

In 2011, Twentieth Century Fox released the acclaimed movie Rio. The film centers on a Spix’s Macaw, named Blu, moving to Brazil in order to repopulate his species with one of the last females of their kind, Jewel.

But the movie was 11 years too late,” said Jennifer Hauser in an article by CNN. “as Jewel likely would’ve died in 2000.”

According to ABCBirds, only five macaws were seen in 1985, which was after “a very long dry spell” from 1903. The distance between the two reports makes it especially difficult to determine what may have caused the eventual extinction, and when the numbers began to decline.

The 2014 sequel to Rio addressed deforestation in the Amazon which many experts believe to be the reason for the Spix’s Macaw’s extinction, though poaching is also a viable theory.

According to an article from ABCBirds, “The Spix’s Macaw succumbed to persistent habitat loss and illegal poaching for the wild bird trade.”

According to World Wild Life, poaching can sometimes earn a hunter billions of dollars, though it is hard to get a complete estimate due to the nature of illegal animal trafficking. 

But it is not just zoologists and wildlife conservationists that are worried about the Spix’s Macaw; students and staff at Powell High School are also concerned about the blue bird’s safety.

“This is one of the great tragedies of recent memory.” Mr. Troy Hildebrand said.

Although some are saddened by the blue-colored birds’ extinction, others mention how the circumstances, while still depressing, do not heavily affect them.

“It’s a pretty sad development,” said sophomore Paul Cox. “But ultimately, I guess I don’t really care that much.”

Despite the Spix’s Macaw now officially classified as extinct in the wild, it is reported that around 60-80 birds still remain in captivity. The issue at hand also provides a look into how mass deforestation and illegal poaching can affect wildlife. It is always important to consider how these acts affect us humans and how we need to strive to make cleaner alternatives to problems that cause deforestation so species like the Spix’s Macaw do not become extinct.