Macaw vs Parrot: What’s the Difference?

Written by August Croft
Published: March 17, 2022
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You may not know all of the differences between a macaw vs parrot, and for good reason. Macaws are a type or species of parrot, making these two birds linked. However, how might a macaw differ from a variety of different parrots? Are there any distinct behavioral differences among species of parrot, including macaws?

In this article, we will compare and contrast macaws vs a wide variety of other parrots. Their locations, behaviors, lifespans, and more will be addressed. We will also discuss what macaws are like as pets compared to other species of parrot. Let’s get started and learn all about these types of birds now!

Comparing Macaw vs Parrot

macaw vs parrot
While all macaws are technically parrots, not all parrots are macaws.
MacawParrot
Size2-4 pounds; 30-40 inches1-2 pounds; 3-25 inches
AppearanceFound in a variety of colors and sizes, including smaller breeds; common colors include red, green, and blueEndless array of color combinations and patterns. Typically smaller in size and wingspan compared to macaws
Location and HabitatCentral and South America; tropical rainforestsFound around the world; varies depending on species, but prefers the tropics
BehaviorTalkative and playful, often mischievous and practical jokers; forms strong bonds with humans when kept as petsCapable of learning tricks and phrases; enjoys forming bonds with other birds as well as its owners when kept as pets. Complex social structures in the wild
Lifespan30-60 years40-80 years

Key Differences Between Macaw vs Parrot

macaw vs parrot

Most macaws are larger than the average parrot, both in length and weight, as well as wingspan.

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There are a few key differences between macaws and parrots. While all macaws are technically parrots, not all parrots are macaws. Most macaws are larger than the average parrot, both in length and weight, as well as wingspan. Parrots are found in more colors than macaws are, despite macaws coming in a variety of beautiful plumage. Finally, many types of parrots have longer lifespans than macaws.

Let’s talk about all of these types of parrots, including macaws, in more detail.

Macaw vs Parrot: Size and Weight

macaw vs parrot

Parrots are found in more colors than macaws are, despite macaws coming in a variety of beautiful plumage.

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Macaws are larger than the grand majority of parrots. However, there are exceptions to this rule, as there always is. For example, The red-shouldered macaw measures only 12 inches in length, while both gray parrots and Amazon parrots are larger than this. Most macaws are considered to be the largest parrot species available.

The average large macaw grows anywhere from 30-40 inches, while parrots average 3-25 inches long. This means that macaws outweigh the average parrot as well. Macaws grow up to 4 pounds, while most parrots average anywhere from 1-2 pounds total.

Macaw vs Parrot: Keeping as Pets

macaw vs parrot

Macaws are large birds for the most part, which means they need a larger enclosure compared to the average parrot.

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While all parrot species make fantastic pets, there are a few differences to keeping a macaw vs a parrot as a pet. Macaws are large birds for the most part, which means they need a larger enclosure compared to the average parrot. Many parrot species exhibit more aggression than the average macaw as well.

Macaws enjoy forming close and personal bonds with humans just as much as other macaws, while some parrots feel differently about this. Many bird species prefer and require bonds with their own kind, and this is something to take note of if you plan on adopting a particular type of parrot into your home.

However, both parrots and macaws make fantastic pets in a wide variety of homes. They are both extremely empathetic creatures, but we’ll discuss this more in a moment.

Macaw vs Parrot: Appearance

macaw vs parrot

Macaws have large curved beaks and powerful feet, while many parrot species have shorter beaks and feet.

©iStock.com/Ondrej Prosicky

Besides their size differences, there are some other physical nuances between macaws and parrots. The majority of macaws come in a variety of feather patterns but their colors focus on reds, blues, and greens. Parrots come in many different colors, including more neutral tones such as gray or white.

Macaws have large curved beaks and powerful feet, while many parrot species have shorter beaks and feet. Many large macaws have white masking around their eyes, while not all parrots share this unique appearance.

Macaw vs Parrot: Behavior

macaw vs parrot

Keeping your household peaceful is a very important part of owning a macaw, while other parrots are less likely to be bothered by this.

©Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock.com

All parrots are particularly talkative and curious, including macaws. In fact, macaws are often labeled as jokers or entertaining birds, while many other parrot varieties are more laid back or shy. However, all parrots are trainable, and can learn tricks, including mimicry and repeated phrases.

The average macaw is extremely empathetic to its owners and environment, and this can be said about all parrots as well. It could be argued that macaws are one of the most empathetic species of parrot, especially if you have the opportunity to rear one from a young age. Keeping your household peaceful is a very important part of owning a macaw, while other parrots are less likely to be bothered by this.

Macaw vs Parrot: Lifespan

macaw vs parrot

The average macaw lives anywhere from 30-60 years of age, while many parrot species live 40-80 years, depending.

©iStock.com/redchanka

A final difference between macaws and parrots is their lifespan. If you choose to adopt any type of parrot, including macaws, you should be prepared for a lifetime commitment. This is because parrots live extraordinarily long lives- let’s talk about how long now!

The average macaw lives anywhere from 30-60 years of age, while many parrot species live 40-80 years, depending. For example, the oldest living parrot was in fact a cockatoo– he lived to reach at least 82 years old! Macaws don’t typically live that long, though there are always exceptions. The larger the parrot, the longer the life it likely will have, and macaws are very large birds.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Maciej Czekajewski/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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