8 Popular Large Birds to Keep as Pets

Cockatoo Pair With Crest Raised
boti / Getty Images

Birds of all types and sizes are certainly captivating creatures, but some of the most impressive ones are the large birds. Many of these birds can learn to talk and perform tricks. They also can be highly affectionate and playful. But it's important to remember large birds require ample space, and they can be rather loud. Also, the expenses associated with their care can be high. If you're ready for the commitment, here are eight of the best large pet bird species.


  • Many large bird species can live for 50 years or longer. Have a plan to care for the bird for its entire lifespan before acquiring one.
  • 01 of 08


    Female eclectus parrot

    Kuksy Makota / Getty Images

    Eclectus parrots are a dimorphic species, meaning the male and female birds sport different feather colors. The male eclectus is a bright green with red and blue accents while the female eclectus is a brilliant red with a blue-purple belly. Living around 30 to 50 years in captivity, these parrots are generally very intelligent and affectionate. They also are rather sensitive and can become depressed if they feel neglected.

    Species Overview

    Length: 17 to 20 inches

    Weight: 13 to 19 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily emerald green, red and blue under wings, and orange beak (male); primarily bright red, blue on chest and tail, and black beak (female)

  • 02 of 08

    Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

    sulphur-crested cockatoo on ground

    Andrew Lancaster / Getty Images

    The sulphur-crested cockatoo is one of the largest cockatoo species. And with proper care, it can live up to 80 years in captivity. An aviary environment is best for these large birds, offering them room to climb and fly. They're highly affectionate and can be demanding of their favorite human’s attention. They need several hours of socialization every day.

    Species Overview

    Length: 15 to 20 inches

    Weight: 12 to 31 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily white; crest of yellow feathers; black beak; males have dark brown to black irises while females have reddish-brown

  • 03 of 08

    Double Yellow-Headed Amazon

    double yellow-headed Amazon

    Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

    The double yellow-headed Amazon is one of the most popular Amazon species, living around 60 years in captivity. These birds are highly intelligent and have a remarkable mimicry ability. Some can even mimic opera singing. They generally love attention and can be rather noisy, especially if they’re bored or feel ignored.

    Species Overview

    Length: 15 to 17 inches

    Weight: 16 to 23 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Green body; yellow head; red at the wing bend; tan beak; white rings around the eyes 

  • 04 of 08

    Scarlet Macaw

    scarlet macaw flying

    Francia Apesteguy / Getty Images

    Scarlet macaws can be a commitment of 80 years or more, though a 40- to 50-year lifespan is more typical. They are very intelligent and energetic birds, requiring ample mental and physical exercise. An aviary environment or several hours out of the cage each day is recommended for these large birds to burn off their energy.

    Species Overview

    Length: 31 to 38 inches

    Weight: 32 to 39 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Vivid red with yellow and blue on wings and tail; white circles around eyes; tan upper bill and black lower bill; black feet

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Blue-And-Gold Macaw

    Blue-and-gold macaw

    Kouichi Tsunoda / Getty Images

    Blue-and-gold macaws can live around 60 years, and they need a dedicated caretaker who can meet their needs for entertainment and socialization. They tend to be friendly birds and enjoy being near their favorite people as much as possible. As large birds, they are capable of incredibly loud vocalizations, so they’re not ideal for people who can’t handle a noisy environment.

    Species Overview

    Length: 30 to 36 inches 

    Weight: 28 to 46 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Green forehead fading into teal on nape, back, tail, and wings; yellow chest and underside of wings; large black beak

  • 06 of 08

    Red-And-Green Macaw

    Red-and-green macaws in a tree

    Mint Images / Getty Images

    The red-and-green macaw, also called the green-winged macaw, is one of the largest pet bird species, living around 50 years in captivity. It ideally should be housed in an aviary environment where it can move freely. But potential caretakers should be warned these birds are often voracious chewers, and their powerful beaks can cause serious damage to a home if they don’t have their own chew toys.

    Species Overview

    Length: 26 to 40 inches

    Weight: 32 to 60 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Red on head, shoulders, and breast; green on middle of wings turning to blue toward the tips; teal and red tail, red lines around eyes; tan upper bill and black lower bill

  • 07 of 08

    Umbrella Cockatoo

    Umbrella cockatoo

    Arthur Morris / Getty Images

    Umbrella cockatoos tend to be gentle companions and live to about 70 to 80 years. And they’re some of the most affectionate birds you can find. Many love to cuddle with their favorite humans (or other birds), and they require lots of attention every day to keep them from feeling neglected. They also don’t tend to do well in a confined space and need as large of an enclosure as possible.

    Species Overview

    Length: 18 inches 

    Weight: 16 to 26 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily white plumage; pale yellow on wings and tail; large white crest; black beak

  • 08 of 08

    Hyacinth Macaw

    Hyacinth macaw

    Pete Turner / Getty Images

    Hyacinth macaws are the largest of all parrots. And they require an experienced caretaker who has the time and resources to meet their complex care needs for their 60-year lifespan. Few cages can even contain this large bird, and an aviary is better for it to be able to move comfortably. Despite their imposing size, these birds tend to be gentle and can bond strongly with their caretakers.

    Species Overview

    Length: 40 inches

    Weight: 42 to 51 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Solid blue plumage; yellow patches around eyes and beak; black beak; dark gray feet