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Parrot vs. Macaw: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 30, 2023
Parrots are a broad group of birds known for their curved beaks and vocal abilities, while macaws are a distinct, colorful subset of parrots, known for their size and vibrant feathers.

Key Differences

Parrots encompass a wide variety of bird species with strong, curved beaks and an ability for mimicry. Macaws, a specific type of parrot, are notable for their large size and vividly colored feathers.
All macaws are parrots, but not all parrots are macaws, as parrots include many species varying in size and color. Macaws are distinguished by their long tails and beaks, and bright plumage.
Parrots are often smaller and can include species like budgerigars and lovebirds. Macaws, such as the blue-and-yellow macaw, are among the largest in the parrot family.
The habitats of parrots are diverse, ranging from rainforests to deserts. Macaws are primarily found in Central and South American rainforests.
In terms of behavior, many parrots are known for their intelligence and ability to mimic sounds. Macaws, specifically, are social birds, often seen in pairs or groups in the wild.

Comparison Chart

Species Variety

Broad group including many species
Specific subgroup of parrots


Ranges from small to large
Generally large


Varies widely, often less vibrant
Typically very colorful and vibrant


Diverse, including rainforests, deserts, and temperate zones
Mainly in Central and South American rainforests

Tail Length

Varies, often shorter
Characteristically long tails

Parrot and Macaw Definitions


Parrots are known for their colorful feathers and social nature.
A group of parrots chattered loudly in the aviary.


Macaws, a type of parrot, are often seen in pairs and are highly social.
Two macaws perched together, grooming each other's feathers.


A parrot is any member of the order Psittaciformes, characterized by their strong beaks.
The parrot used its strong beak to crack open nuts.


Macaws are known for their long tails, large beaks, and loud calls.
The macaw's loud call echoed through the jungle.


Parrots are intelligent birds, often kept as pets for their playful personalities.
Her pet parrot learned several phrases and would greet visitors.


Macaws are popular in aviculture due to their striking appearance and intelligence.
The macaw in the zoo was a favorite among visitors for its playful antics.


Parrots typically have zygodactyl feet, with two toes facing forward and two backward.
The parrot skillfully climbed the cage using its zygodactyl feet.


A macaw is a large, brightly colored parrot native to Central and South America.
The macaw's vibrant feathers were a highlight in the tropical forest.


A parrot is a bird with a curved beak and a capacity for imitating sounds.
The parrot amused everyone by mimicking their laughter.


A macaw's diet mainly consists of nuts, fruits, and seeds, using their strong beak.
The macaw cracked a tough nut with its powerful beak.


Any of numerous primarily tropical and subtropical birds of the order Psittaciformes, characterized by a short hooked bill, brightly colored plumage, and, in some species, the ability to mimic human speech or other sounds.


Any of various parrots of several genera found in Mexico and South and Central America, including the largest parrots and characterized by a long tail, curved powerful bill, and usually brilliant plumage.


One who imitates the words or actions of another, especially without understanding them.


What is a parrot?

A parrot is a bird with a curved beak, known for its ability to mimic sounds and its colorful plumage.

What distinguishes a macaw from other parrots?

Macaws are distinguished by their large size, long tails, and exceptionally colorful plumage.

Are all macaws parrots?

Yes, all macaws are a specific type of parrot.

Can parrots other than macaws mimic human speech?

Yes, many parrot species are capable of mimicking human speech, not just macaws.

Are parrots endangered?

Some parrot species are endangered, largely due to habitat loss and the pet trade.

What do macaws eat?

Macaws primarily eat nuts, fruits, and seeds.

Can parrots learn to understand human words?

Parrots can mimic human speech, but understanding and comprehending words varies among individuals.

What is a macaw?

A macaw is a type of large, vibrantly colored parrot, primarily found in Central and South America.

What is the typical habitat of parrots?

Parrots inhabit various environments, from rainforests to deserts, depending on the species.

How long can macaws live?

Macaws can live for several decades, often over 50 years in captivity.

Do macaws build nests?

Yes, macaws build nests, typically in tree hollows or cliffs.

What kind of social structure do macaws have?

Macaws are highly social, often found in pairs or larger groups.

What is the conservation status of macaws?

Some macaw species are threatened or endangered due to habitat destruction and illegal trade.

Do all parrots fly?

Most parrots can fly, although some pet or captive birds may have limited flight ability.

Are parrots monogamous?

Many parrot species, including macaws, form monogamous pair bonds.

How do macaws communicate?

Macaws communicate using a variety of vocalizations, body language, and feather displays.

Why do macaws have such bright colors?

The bright colors of macaws may play a role in communication, camouflage, and mate selection.

Are macaws good pets?

Macaws can be good pets for those who understand their needs for space, social interaction, and mental stimulation.

Do all parrots have the same level of intelligence?

While all parrots are considered intelligent, there are variations in cognitive abilities among different species.

Can parrots and macaws be trained?

Yes, both parrots and macaws can be trained, especially for tasks that stimulate their natural behaviors and intelligence.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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