Special anatomical, physiological
or behavioral adaptations:
The hyacinth macaw's large bill reflects
its food preference; it uses its bill to score and then - in steel-cutter
fashion - shear the nuts in two. The hyacinth macaw cuts open palm nuts
so cleanly that the cut surfaces resemble the work of a metal-cutting saw
or laser rather than of a bird or mammal.
Many South American palm species have evolved
very hard nut shells to prevent predation by hyacinth macaws. Each time
a palm plant produced a harder, better-defended seed, the individual hyacinth
macaws with the largest bills probably were disproportionately able to
crack the seeds. Hence, they passed their "big bill" genes down to their
offspring, leading to larger and larger bills in each generation.
The hyacinth macaw's impressive vocalizations
include a variety of very loud, harsh, guttural squawks that can be heard
over a kilometer or more in the wild. Due in part to the bird's massive
size, its calls are much lower in frequency than the calls of other macaws.