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Difference between a parrot and a macaw? Detail Explained

It is possible that you don’t know the difference between a parrot and a macaw. Macaws can be considered a parrot species, which makes them closely related. How does a macaw compare to other parrots? Do macaws and other parrot species have any behavioral differences?

This article will discuss macaws and a variety of parrots. We will also discuss their locations, behaviors, lifespans, and other details. We’ll also talk about macaws as pets and how they compare to other parrot species. Let’s learn more about these birds!


What is a Parrot?

What is a Parrot

The general term “parrot” refers to all birds of the Psittacoidea. Many types of these birds range in size from small parakeets to large macaws. Each parrot has a unique bill, a cere around its nostrils (area with soft skin), and grasping feet, and parrots are found living in large groups. Rarely are there visual differences between male and female parrots.

The diet of parrots includes mostly seeds but also nuts, fruit, and nectar. They can make various sounds, including short squawks and melodic songs. There are also many distinct vocalizations. These sounds can be used to communicate with flocks and the movement of tail feathers.

These birds have complex behavioral ecology. Parrots are very intelligent birds and can be monogamous for life. They are located in various habitats, such as urban jungles and deserts.

Parrots can produce 6-9 eggs per brood. Incubation takes between 19-30 days. The parents are the sole caregivers for the hatchlings. They stay in the nest for long periods while eating regurgitated food.


What is a Macaw?

Macaws are mainly tropical and sub-tropical birds. These parrots are large, bright, and intelligent. They are found throughout South America, Mexico, and Central America. A group of these birds flying in formation is undoubtedly a sign of large rainforests.

Macaws have a distinct area of bare skin that is sometimes broken up with fine feather rows. This section extends down to the bottom of the bill and covers its face. They are distinguished from other parrot species that have a smaller area around their nostrils.

Each macaw’s unique fine feathers, which cross this bare skin patch, are unique. It is similar to a human fingerprint. The macaws’ distinctively long tail feathers make them stand out from other parrots.

These birds live in familiar flocks, and they eat nuts and seeds. They crack open the shells with strong beaks. These flocks are a sign of health in the rainforest and the health of the forest.

The majority of macaws in the wild are now threatened. The five species that are endangered have all been eradicated. Macaws usually face threats from deforestation and illegal pet trading, in which many birds die before reaching the pet shop.

Parrot vs Macaw: What’s the Difference?

Basic Terms Parrot Macaw
Size They range from small as sparrows to larger macaws They are quite large in terms of body size.
Heads The heads of the animals are covered in feathers. They also have cere around their nostrils. The skin of the face is exposed, that extends to the base of the beak.
Tails They are proportional to the length of the body. They are older.
Classification It is a big family bird, which includes macaws, parakeets and Cockatoos. It is a particular species of parrot.
Color They can range from dark to bright colors. They have vivid colors on them.
Number of eggs Twice a year, they lay between 6 and 9 eggs. Every year, they produce one to two egg broods.
Nests They construct their nests in tunnels or crevices. They build their homes in hollows in trees, or in riverbank holes.
What they feed on They consume insects, fruits, nuts, seeds, and seeds. They consume fruits, seeds, insects, nuts as well as leaves, stems and flowers.
Geographical distribution They can be found throughout the southern hemisphere in a wide range of habitats. They can be discovered in tropical woodlands or rainforests.


There are a few important differences between macaws and parrots. Although all macaws can technically be considered parrots, not all can be called macaws. Macaws can be larger than average parrots in terms of length, weight and wingspan.

Parrots can be found in more colors than macaws, even though macaws have a wide range of beautiful plumage. Lastly, parrots can live longer than macaws in many species.

Let’s discuss macaw vs parrot in greater detail.




Parrots eat seeds, nuts and nectar. Macaws can forage from various sources, including certain stems, leaves and flowers. The macaws have been known to eat clay to neutralize some substances in their diets. Parrots are monogamous, and they often nest in burrows.

Macaws have one mate and often nest in burrows. It takes large parrots, such as macaws, a while to mature and only one or two eggs per year. The smaller parrots can lay up to six to nine eggs per year and have two or three broods.


Classification of Parrot and Macaw

The large group of parrots comprises many birds with similar characteristics. This bird includes parakeets and macaws. The family Psittacidae is the home of true parrots. Six genera of macaws, with about 18 species.


Parrots have a broad geographical range and can be found in most of the Southern hemisphere’s habitats. They are not restricted to tropical areas. Some parrots migrate and build breeding colonies in specific areas.

Macaws occur in the tropical forests and woodlands from Central Mexico to South America, where they breed, live and can be observed.


Size and Weight

Macaws are bigger than most parrots. There are some exceptions to the rule, just as there have always been. Red-shouldered macaws measure only 12 inches long, while Amazon parrots and gray parrots measure longer. The macaw is the largest parrot species.

The average large macaw is approximately 30-40 inches, while parrots are about 3-25 inches long. Macaws are also larger than the average parrot. Macaws can grow to 4 pounds, while parrots typically average between 1-2 pounds.



There are other differences between macaws & parrots, aside from their different sizes. While most macaws have a wide range of feather colors, their primary focus is on greens, reds and blues in the majority. Parrots come in many colors and even more neutral shades, such as white or gray.

Macaws have long, curved beaks with powerful feet. Many parrot species have shorter feet and beaks. Large macaws often have white masking around the eyes. Not all parrots have this unique look.



The lifespan is the last difference between macaws & parrots. You should expect to be obligated for life if you decide to adopt any parrot species, even macaws. Parrots can live a very long life span.

A macaw can live between 30-60 years, while parrot species may live for 40-80 years, depending on their species. The oldest parrot alive was a cockatoo. Although macaws are not known to live for that long, there are exceptions. The longer a parrot lives, the better. Macaws are large and intelligent birds.


Keeping as Pets

Although all parrot species are great pets, there are some differences between keeping a macaw and a parrot. The macaw is a large bird, so they require a larger enclosure than the average parrot. Many parrot species are more aggressive than the average macaw.

While macaws can form close, personal bonds with humans and other macaws and parrots, some parrots have different feelings. If you are considering adopting a specific bird species, it is important to understand that many birds prefer and need bonds with their species.

Both macaws and parrots are great pets in a variety of homes. Both are extremely compassionate creatures.



All parrots are more talkative and curious. Macaws can be called jokers, entertaining birds, and many other varieties of parrots are more shy or laid-back. All parrots can be trained and learn tricks such as mimicry and repeating phrases.

The average macaw is very empathetic to its environment and owners and especially if they are young. Macaws can be a nuisance to other parrots, so it is important to keep your home peaceful.


Which Breed is Right for You?

Which Breed is Right for You

It is hard to compare macaws with parrots. They belong to one bird species which houses hundreds of different species of birds. Although they may all be parrots, there is a big difference between a tiny Pygmy Parrot that weighs less than an ounce and one that weighs almost four pounds, and a Hyacinth Macaw can weigh nearly four pounds.

Amazing macaws, parrots, and other exotic birds are available. They can even mimic your words and have bursting personalities. Although smaller varieties are easier to care for, they don’t last as long and don’t often mimic. On the other hand, larger varieties of both species tend to live longer and are more intelligent for mimicry.

An African Grey parrot or a blue-and-gold macaw might be the best choice if you are looking for a large bird with above-average intelligence. A Pygmy or Hahn’s Macaw might be the best choice if you prefer.

Final thought

The primary difference between parrots and macaws is that macaws are larger in their beaks and have more feathers than parrots. Additionally, parrots are smaller in size, both in their body and beaks.

If you’re an avid birder, whether macaws or parrots, to witness a group of these colorful birds flying would be stunning. However, the loss of habitats and the illegal trade in pets have sadly impacted the natural world, which has led to us not taking in these amazing sights.