Ara martinica


Kingdom Animalia

Created by Peter Maas for The Extinction Website (2008). This image has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Licence.

Phylum Chordata
Class Aves (birds)
Order Psittaciformes (parrots)
Family Psittacidae (true parrots)
Subfamily Psittacinae
Tribe Arini
Genus Ara
Species Ara martinica
Authority (Rothschild, 1905)
English Name Martinique Macaw, Lesser Antillean Macaw
Dutch Name Martinique Ara
French Name Ara Martinica
German Name Martinique-Ara
Spanish Name Guacamayo de Martinica
Synonyms Anadorhynchus martinicus Rothschild, 1905
Comments This parrot is usually considered a hypothetical extinct parrot species. It is only known from old reports. No skins, bones or any archaeological remains are known.
Taxonomy Rothschild (1905) described macaws from Martinique, as Anadorhynchus (sic.) martinicus (based on the writings of Bouton in 1640), but other claim that there is no solid evidence that it differed from the Guadeloupe Macaw Ara guadeloupensis (BirdLife International 2004). Although Williams and Steadman (2001) find no evidence for the suggestion by Clark (1905) that Ara guadeloupensis also occurred on Martinique. It would seem more likely that each island or set of nearby islands has its own endemic macaw species (Rothschild 1907; Williams and Steadman 2001). A re-evaluation of the historical documentation and archaeological exploration are required to elucidate this (BirdLife International 2004). Greenway (1958) and Snyder et al. (1987) both suggested that this putative species likely pertained to the Blue-and-Yellow Macaw Ara ararauna, a mainland species that could have been traded to Martinique. Snyder et al. (1987) noted, however, that an unnamed and poorly known but distinctive macaw once lived on Martinique (Williams and Steadman 2001).
Characteristics The Martinique Macaws were coloured blue and orange-yellow (saffron) (Bouton 1640). They were very similar to the Blue-and-Yellow Macaw Ara ararauna (Clark 1905).
Range & Habitat LocationMartinique.gif (4933 bytes)The Martinique Macaw was endemic to the Caribbean island of Martinique (to France).

Image: map with the previous range of the Martinique Macaw (in red). Click on map to see larger version of this map. Created by Peter Maas for The Extinction Website. The copyright holder of this work has released it into the public domain. This applies worldwide.

History & Population In 1640, Jacques Bouton wrote "Les aras sont deux ou trois fois gros côme les autres perroquets, ont un plumage bien different en couleur: ceux que i'ay veu auoient les plumes bleuës & orangées. Ils apprennent aussi à parler, & ont bon organe." This can be translated into English as "The macaws are two or three times as large as the other parrots, [and] have a plumage much different in colour: those that I have seen have their plumage blue and orange-yellow (saffron). They also learn to talk and have a good body". From this publication, Walter Rothschild named the Martinique Macaw Anadorhynchus martinicus in 1905, and subsequently referring this species to the genus Ara (Fuller 2000). No other historian has described any macaw, other than de red (see Guadeloupe Macaw), from Martinique (Greenway 1958).

Interesting is that the Flemish-born Dutch baroque painter Roeland Savery (1576-1639) depicted a blue and yellow macaw in his famous dodo painting (1626), presented to the British Museum (London, England) by George Edward in 1759, and in his "Landscape with Birds" painting (1628) in the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna, Austria). This macaw differs from the South American bird in having yellow, not blue, under tail coverts. Sadly it is not possible to determine from what island this bird came. (Greenway 1958) Eleazar Albin depicted exactly the same kind of macaw in a copperplate engravings from Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux published between 1735-1750. Albin claimed that this blue and yellow macaw came from Jamaica and was a female, possibly coloured by memory (Clark 1905). Albin's statements about the origin of the birds he depicts seems not very reliable, as well as his ideas about male and female plumage patterns in macaws, as he coloured the "male" as a red and blue macaw. 

Images: bleu and yellow macaws from 1626 (left), 1628 (middle) by Roeland Savery, and one by Eleazar Albin (right). These images are in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the European Union, Canada, the United States and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.

Extinction Causes As with the other macaws on the Antilles, it is likely that hunting and trapping led to the extinction of the Martinique Macaw.
Museum Specimens There exist no specimens in any known collection.
Relatives The relatives of this species are all other macaw species, including the other extinct West Indian macaw species, like the Cuban Red Macaw (Ara tricolor), Dominica Macaw (Ara atwoodi), Red-headed Green Macaw (Ara erythrocephala), Red-tailed Blue-and-Yellow Macaw (Ara erythrura), Jamaican Red Macaw  (Ara gossei), and the Guadeloupe Macaw (Ara guadeloupensis).

Martinique Macaw - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



(Complete website)

Bouton, Jacques ("Père") (1640): Relation d'un établissement de francois depuis l'an 1635 en l'isle de Martinique, l'une des Antilles de l'Amerique, p.71-72.

Clark, A. H. (1905) The Lesser Antillean macaws. Auk 22: 266-273.

Fuller, E. 2000. Extinct birds. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Greenway, J. C. 1958. Extinct and vanishing birds of the world. New York, American Committee for International Wild Life Protection.

Rothschild, W. (1905) Notes on extinct parrots from the West Indies. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 16: 13-15.

Rothschild, Walter (1907): Extinct Birds.

Snyder, F. R. et al. 1987. The Parrots of Luquillo: Natural History and Conservation of the Puerto Rican Parrot. The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology. Allen Press Inc.

Williams, M. I. & D. V. Steadman (2001): The historic and prehistoric distribution of parrots (Psittacidae) in the West Indies. Pp 175-489 in Biogeography of the West Indies: patterns and perspectives. 2nd ed. (Woods, C. A. & F. E. Sergile, eds.) Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Last updated: 27th September 2008.

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