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Extinct bird returns from oblivion

Spix’s Macaw, a beautiful parrot from Brazil’s Atlantic forests, had only been seen on cinema screens in recent years before its dramatic re-appearance last week.s. macawThe striking silvery blue parrot was the star of box-office hit Rio, a 3D computer-animated comedy that went on to win a string of Oscar nominations.Yet while the film soared, the real bird that inspired its storyline appeared doomed. Join today

It had not been seen in the wild since 2000 until it was filmed by a teenager.

An amazing piece of footage of a Spix’s macaw flying through trees was captured by 16 year old Damilys Oliveira after a search for the bird with her mother.

Damilys fulfilled the wish of her great-grandfather, who died last year at the age of 94, still yearning to see the macaw one day grace the skies near his home town of Curaçá in the Bahia region of Brazil.Damily’s mobile phone footage has been put on YouTube by BirdLife International and generated an expedition by Brazilian federal environment experts to locate the bird and help preserve its last domain.Spix’s macaw was deemed new to science when three birds were discovered in 1985, only for them to be captured.
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Macaws have always been highly prized by bird collectors and by 2010 all the known Spix’s were being held in captivity.

The last truly wild bird had disappeared in 2000. BirdLife International has gone on record to say that the “critically endangered and possibily extinct in the wild” status of Spix’s macaw – scientific name, Cyanopsitta spixii – is “primarily as a result of trapping for trade plus habitat loss”.

Ironically, breeding the bird in captivity for future reintroduction into the wild has become a challenge for conservationists in the Middle East, Europe and Brazil.A small population of around 130 is being maintained for this eventuality.Relocating the bird found last week could provide vital help in any release operation. BirdLife International today explained how the bird had been rediscovered.

The first person to see the wild macaw was farmer Nauto Sergio de Oliveira.

Next day, his wife Lourdes and daughter Damilys set off before dawn to look for the bird in Barra Grande Creek’s riparian forest.

By 6.20am, they had not only seen the bird but managed to shoot a few seconds of video on the teenager’s mobile.Lourdes immediately contacted biologists at the Society for the Conservation of Birds in Brazil (SAVE), the country’s official BirdLife Partner.SAVE director Pedro Develey said: “The local people were euphoric. They set up groups to locate the bird and control any potential dealers from entering.

“They are really proud and hopeful for a reintroduction to save the species.”

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