Finding out what Lear’s Macaws eat may help to end conflict between the species and farmers. The Lear’s Macaw is one of the world’s most threatened parrots, and is concentrated in the northern part of Bahia, Brazil. Efforts to reduce nest poaching have been largely successful, leaving food availability as the main threat to the species survival.
It has been long thought that the birds fed mainly on Licuri palm nuts, the availability of which has been reduced by agriculture, with the parrots turning to maize to counter that shortage. This in turn has led to farmers shooting the birds as a pest.
However, parrot expert Erica Pacifico, suspecting that maize and palm nuts are a less important part of the macaws’ diet that believed, is now scientifically analysing the actual diets of the macaw, by genetic analysis of the birds themselves.