Spix's Macaw Cyanopsitta spixii Scientific name definitions

Christopher J. Sharpe, Guy M. Kirwan, Nigel Collar, and Peter F. D. Boesman
Version: 2.1 — Published June 27, 2022


Systematics History

Sittace Spixii Wagler, 1832, Abhandlungen der Koenglich Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematisch-Physikalischen Klasse, Band 1, p. 675.—“in Brasilia, versus flumen Amazonum” [error], as based on Arara hyacinthinus Spix, not of Latham, type from Joazeiro, Rio São Francisco, Brazil (see 3).

The holotype, the adult specimen collected by Spix in May 1819, is held at the Zoologische Staatssammlung München (ZSM) (4).

The genus Cyanopsitta was erected by Bonaparte (in his Conspectum Psittacorum) for this species and the Critically Endangered (and widely believed to be extinct) Glaucous Macaw (Anodorhynchus glaucus), but is now employed only for spixii, following its designation as the type of Bonaparte’s name (5, whose emendation of the name to Cyanopsittacus was unjustified). Nevertheless, this macaw was frequently maintained as a member of the genus Ara Lacépède, 1799, into the 20th century (e.g., 6), despite Cyanopsitta being employed by such important authorities as Hellmayr (3) and Pinto (7). Ridgway (8) noted that the blue coloration of spixii had suggested to many a relationship with the larger and deeper blue members of Anodorhynchus von Spix, 1824, which he doubted. In the present century, the generic status of Cyanopsitta has been validated by molecular research, which also demonstrated that the blue coloration is not especially phylogenetically informative, just as Ridgway had thought, although Cyanopsitta and Anodorhynchus do form part of the same rather large clade (9).

Geographic Variation




Related Species

The monospecific genus Cyanopsitta is apparently most closely related to the genera Ara, Primolius, and Orthopsittaca (9).

The last remaining wild-living individual (a male) mated with a female Blue-winged Macaw (Primolius maracana), producing hybrid embryo (10).


Also known as the Little Blue Macaw (11, 2).

Fossil History

No information; a review of the very limied fossil material attributed to any of the species of blue macaws was presented by Alvarenga (12).

Recommended Citation

Sharpe, C. J., G. M. Kirwan, N. Collar, and P. F. D. Boesman (2022). Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii), version 2.1. In Birds of the World (G. M. Kirwan, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.spimac1.02.1