Popular Macaws That Make Outstanding Pets

Pet Macaw Species

The Spruce / Marina Li

One of the most prized pet birds, there are 17 different types of macaws, each with its own unique needs and quirks. Several macaws are endangered, with the hyacinth, red-fronted and blue-throated macaws among the most seriously endangered. 

Although these charming, personable birds are understandably popular as pets, demand has threatened their numbers in the wild. Many macaws are illegally trapped in their native rainforest homes and sold.

Most macaws are large and need a lot of social interaction. In other words, they're high-maintenance pets. But if you're okay with a pet that requires a significant time investment from its owner, a macaw may be a good option. Here are a few of the different types of macaw, and what makes each one a little different.


7 Things to Know About Owning a Macaw

  • 01 of 10

    Blue and Gold Macaws

    Blue and Gold Macaw
    Mark Newman / Getty Images

    Intelligent and sociable, the blue and gold macaw grows to be quite large, measuring nearly three feet from the beak to the tip of the tail. This is not a pet for a novice bird owner; it rivals a cat or a dog in its social needs. They're also very loud birds, and their vocalization includes flock calls that sound like screaming. They're also known to "chew" with their beaks when held in captivity. 

    The reward for a macaw owner willing to invest the energy is a pet whose lively personality makes it an excellent companion. Blue and gold macaws, also known as blue and yellow macaws, bond closely with their human owners. 

  • 02 of 10

    Greenwing Macaws

    A close-up of Green-winged Macaw perched on a palm frond.

    Roger de la Harpe/Getty Images

    The greenwing macaw has a very sweet disposition, and respond well to training. They'll need attention and time to bond with their owners but will thrive in a supportive environment. If you're considering this bird as a pet (or any macaw, for that matter), don't expect to leave it for long stretches of time. This bird needs a lot of social interaction. 

  • 03 of 10

    Hahn's Macaws

    Close up photo of a Hahn's Macaw

    Ian Fox/Getty Images

    These little guys are the smallest of the macaws and are very easygoing. Social and intelligent, Hahn's macaws respond quickly to training and form close bonds with their owners.

    Hahn's macaws can become good talkers with practice. While they do exhibit many typical macaw behaviors such as screaming, they are a good choice for the bird lover that wants a macaw but isn't quite ready to take on a large bird.

  • 04 of 10

    Hyacinth Macaws

    Hyacinth Macaws in palm tree.

    Richard McManus/Getty Images

    Hyacinth macaws are the largest type of macaw and arguably the hardest to care for. Because these birds demand more time and attention than other species, Hyacinth macaws are definitely not the right pets for new bird owners. Large, beautiful, and intelligent, they can be quite alluring but are suitable only for pet owners with the right amounts of patience and devotion. 

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Hybrid Macaws

    Ana hybrid macaw

    D Coetzee/Flickr/Public Domain

    Hybrid macaws are unlike any other macaw species, bred strictly for color and pet quality. Because these birds are of mixed heritage, they possess the combined personality traits of the species that were crossed to produce them. Only an experienced owner with a thorough understanding of macaw behavior should consider a hybrid.

  • 06 of 10

    Illiger's Macaws


    MrTMan/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Illiger's macaws are playful, friendly birds that enjoy human interaction. When hand fed as babies and raised in loving attentive homes, these intelligent parrots will bond strongly with their owners and will quickly respond to positive training techniques.

    Illiger's macaws require a lot of mental stimulation, and they like to stay busy.

  • 07 of 10

    Military Macaws

    Military Macaw Duo

    Ger Bosma/Getty Images

    Social and very vocal, Military macaws have a reputation for being pleasant, even-tempered pets when properly socialized. Military macaws are curious birds, and they enjoy playing and interacting with their human "flock."

    But like other macaws, these birds will require a lot of energy from their human owners. Plan to spend a lot of time with a military macaw if you get one as a pet. 

  • 08 of 10

    Scarlet Macaws

    Scarlet Macaw

    Rüdiger Katterwe/Getty Images

    These birds are intelligent, but they need daily socialization and stimulation so that they stay tame. Scarlet macaws get bored quite easily, so they should be provided with plenty of toys to play with, in addition to near-constant attention from their owners.

    Hand-fed scarlet macaws can be very affectionate, but potential owners should keep in mind that like all macaws, they can be noisy. Don't plan on keeping one as a pet if you live in an apartment or small living space, it probably won't work.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Severe Macaws

    Severe Macaw

    Bernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr/Public Domain

    Friendly and comical, the severe macaw's large personality makes it a favorite with bird lovers. With adequate socialization, severe macaws bond quickly with their owners, responding well to training and boasting impressive speech abilities. They're as needy as other macaw varieties, but severe macaws can be charming companions. 

  • 10 of 10

    Yellow-Collared Macaws

    Two Yellow-collared Macaws

    Pat McGrath/Wikimedia Commons/CC By 2.0

    Affectionate but somewhat mischievous, the yellow-collared macaw has a reputation for being an intelligent and resourceful little parrot. They thrive on attention from their owners, and like other macaws will seek that attention by any means necessary.

    Yellow-collared macaws are clever and tend to be escape artists, so it's important to provide a cage that is safe and secure. Although some are one-person birds, most yellow-collared macaws make good family pets.