Sunday, 22 March 2015


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I recently visited a pet shop and was watching the parrots until my Nathaniel came along and told me that they were Macaws.  This started a parrot/Macaw debate and I pondered the differences between them. We concluded that we needed to find out more about them, hence this article.

Both are very attractive birds that are usually large and brightly coloured.  Their behaviour is similar too, so it is not surprising to find out that Macaws are in fact a type of parrot. In fact there are 370 species of parrots and 18 species of Macaws.


Macaws are a group of parrots that are native to the New world (the Americas). There are six genera of macaws from which 18 species have been identified, although it is suspected that there are more unidentified species in the wild.

Macaws are mainly tropical or sub tropical birds. Most macaws live in the rain forests, but can inhabit woodland and Savannah's too.  Macaws are usually bigger than parrots, with larger beaks and bodies.  They include the largest of all parrots, the Hycinth Macaw, which is over one meter long with a wingspan of 1.2 metres. However they also include smaller parakeet macaws too. 

Unlike parrots Macaws have a distinctive light coloured facial patch.  They have a longer tail too which enables them to glide from tree to tree without the need to flap. 


Parrots belong to the group Psittaciformes, a large group of colourful birds that includes Parakeets, Cockatiels, macaws, cockatoos, lorries, love birds and Amazons. 

There are 86 genera of parrots from which 370 species are identified and so are a highly diversified group of birds and range significantly in size.  Unlike Macaws parrots are found all over the world except Antarctica, although the largest diversity lives in topical and subtropical climates such as South America and Australasia.

Parrots have shorter bodies and tails than Macaws which enables them to manoeuvre through tight spaces whilst in flight. Their plumage is extremely well coloured and attractive. Parrots have a strong, curved bill and a slightly leaning upright posture.
Similar to Macaws parrots Their feet have two toes pointing forward and two pointing backwards which enables them to grasp well. 

Parrots are very intelligent birds, equivalent to that of a young toddler. Parents are more talkative than Macaws and can mimic sounds and words enabling them to 'talk' to visitors. The African grey parrot is the most talkative of all and can perform simple tasks such as counting, identifying shapes and objects. This intelligence can often be seen at parrot shows where they master the use of equipment such as bicycles and skates.

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