8 Top Large Parrots to Keep as Pets

Blue and Yellow Macaws (Ara ararauna), pair, native to South America, captive, Wachenheim, Germany
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Large parrots are well-established as popular pets. While they're fun to have around the home, there are some key points to know before taking one on. These are intelligent and get bored easily if not offered enough mental stimulation. Moreover, inadequate social interaction can lead to behavioral problems and even illnesses. But for people who care for them properly, large parrots can offer unmatched companionship and a unique pet experience. Here are eight of the best large parrots to keep as pets.


Many large parrot species can live for several decades. Before acquiring one, make sure you can provide care for its entire lifespan.

  • 01 of 08

    African Grey

    Close-up of an African grey parrot

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    The intelligence and emotional capacity of African greys are often compared to that of a 5-year-old human. But bear in mind these birds don't move past the maturity of a 5-year-old for their entire lifespan of around 50 years or more. A bored, unattended African grey can quickly become a destructive escape artist. Because of the bird's intellect, many caretakers constantly have to find new ways to keep their pets occupied.

    Species Overview

    Length: 9 to 14 inches

    Weight: 11 to 19 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Mostly gray plumage with pale edging; black beak and bright red tail (Congo African grey); tan upper beak and maroon tail (Timneh African grey)

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    Close-up of an eclectus parrot in an aviary

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    The striking eclectus is a large parrot that offers multiple options. Being a sexually dimorphic species, the male and female eclectus have distinct plumage. Males are vivid green while females are red with bluish-purple accents. There also are three distinct subspecies of eclectus parrots. Like many other large parrots, the eclectus has a long lifespan of over 50 years in captivity with proper care.

    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)

  • 03 of 08

    Umbrella Cockatoo

    Umbrella cockatoo waving foot
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    With proper care, umbrella cockatoos can live 70 to 80 years or more in captivity. These birds tend to be gentle and sweet, forming strong bonds with their caretakers. Many love to cuddle up to their favorite person (or bird) and can be distraught whenever they are separated. So it’s important to have enough time to spend with these smart, social birds.

    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

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    Yellow-Naped Amazon

    Yellow-naped Amazon parrot on a branch

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    The yellow-naped Amazon—one of the best talkers in the parrot family—makes a fine avian companion. These birds have sunny dispositions, bonding closely with their caretakers. But anyone thinking of adopting one should be aware these birds can live more than 70 years if properly cared for. This isn't a commitment to be taken lightly.

    Species Overview

    Length: 12 to 15 inches

    Weight: 17 to 24 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily bright green plumage; blaze of yellow around neck; often a yellow patch on head; red in wing feathers; black beak and feet

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  • 05 of 08

    Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

    Sulphur-crested cockatoo walking in a field

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    With a lengthy lifespan of around 80 years, the sulphur-crested cockatoo comes in two sizes. The greater sulphur-crested cockatoo measures around 20 inches from beak to tail while the lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo measures around 15 inches. Like other cockatoos, these birds have a reputation for being very affectionate and need to spend ample time with their caretakers.

    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

  • 06 of 08

    Blue-and-Gold Macaw

    Two blue-and-gold macaws perched on a tree

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    With a lifespan upward of 50 years in captivity, the blue-and-gold macaw is a large parrot that has enjoyed immense popularity as a pet. These colorful birds are extremely intelligent and often take well to learning tricks and how to talk. They have strong personalities and are happiest in homes with experienced parrot owners who can give them ample out-of-cage playtime.

    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

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    Scarlet Macaw

    Scarlet macaw in flight

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    Scarlet macaws are intelligent and energetic birds, requiring lots of daily socialization and exercise. They get bored easily and need a rotation of toys to keep them entertained. And while properly tamed macaws can be affectionate birds, some only end up bonding with one family member and are not the best fit for children.

    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

  • 08 of 08

    Hyacinth Macaw

    Hyacinth macaw
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    The beautiful blue hyacinth macaw is the largest of all parrots. With a lifespan of more than 60 years in captivity, this bird’s care needs are as substantial as its size. It requires a very spacious (and escape-proof) enclosure to live in, which most commercial cages cannot meet. It also needs ample room to fly for exercise, even if its wings are clipped. Only experienced, educated bird caretakers are likely to meet its needs.

    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