Macaws are known as the giants of the parrot world. The hyacinth macaw is the longest parrot, with a head to tail length of nearly 40 inches. Macaws have long tail feathers as well as big beaks. Macaw adaptations include large, curved, powerful beaks designed to crack open hard nuts and seeds. These parrots have a long, streamlined physique and colorful feathering, ranging from the hyacinth macaw’s hyacinth blue to the scarlet macaw’s scarlet red coloring. Some macaw species have bare facial patches.
Macaws are informally classified into two groups: large macaws and mini macaws. The large macaws include those of the Ara, Anodorhynchus, and Cyanopsitta genera.
This “blue macaws” group includes the hyacinth, along with the critically endangered Lear’s macaw and Spix’s macaw. The mini macaws are much smaller and include those from the genera Diopsittaca, Orthopsittaca, and Primolius.
Although there are 18 living species of macaws, not all commonly get adopted by people. The commonly kept companion macaw species include the following, listed by common name and scientific name: blue-and-gold macaw (Ara ararauna), green-winged macaw (Ara chloropterus), Hahn’s macaw (Diopsittaca nobilis nobilis), hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), scarlet macaw (Ara macao), military macaw (Ara militaris), and severe macaw (Ara severus). Some of these species have other common names.
For example, the blue-and-gold macaw is sometimes called the blue-and-yellow macaw, and the military macaw is sometimes called the chestnut-fronted macaw.
The African grey parrot’s ability to talk and mimic sounds makes this medium-sized parrot a captivating companion. African grey owners often report that their greys oftentimes talk in context and seem very attuned to their people’s emotions.
The African grey parrot is not just a top talker — this bird is also known for its extreme intelligence, which gives them the moniker
The African grey parrot is one of the most talented talking/ mimicking birds on the planet, giving it quite a reputation among bird enthusiasts. Not only do bird keepers love this intelligent bird, it’s one of the most recognizable species to bird novices as well
At first glance, the African grey is a medium-sized, dusty-looking gray bird, almost pigeon-like — but further investigation reveals a bright red tail, intelligent orange eyes, and a stunning scalloped pattern to its plumage.
African grey parrots generally inhabit savannas, coastal mangroves, woodland and edges of forest clearings in their West and Central Africa range. Though the larger of the African grey subspecies is referred to as the Congo African grey, this bird actually has a much wider natural range in Africa, including the southeastern Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Tanzania. The Timneh African grey is found in a smaller region along the western edge of the Ivory Coast and through southern Guinea. Their diet in the wild consists mostly of palm nuts, seeds, fruits, and leafy matter.
Most bird keepers believe that only an experienced bird enthusiast should keep a grey. They are complex parrots, highly sensitive, and more than a little demanding. They are also charming and brilliant, but this match of sensitivity and brains can lead to behavioral issues. They are creatures of habit, and even a small change in routine can make a sensitive grey unhappy. They are prone to plucking and chewing their feathers, among other bad habits. Anecdotally, the TAG has a hardier attitude and may be better for households with a lot of people coming and going. The CAG prefers a little less chaos.
African greys are social parrots that need a lot of hands-on time, however, they aren’t “cuddlebugs.” They will tolerate some head scratching and a little bit of petting, but they do not appreciate intense physical contact, though some individuals don’t mind a little snuggling. Every bird has individual tastes and preferences. A grey can also become a “one person bird,” even if every member of the household socializes with it from the beginning.
Much of the grey’s appeal comes from its talking ability. It is among the best talkers in the parrot family, able to repeat words and phrases after hearing them just once or twice. This bird reaches full talking ability around a year of age, and most individuals become capable mimics much earlier.
Not only will a grey develop an outstanding vocabulary, research has shown that this species can come to understand what it’s saying. The most famous CAG, Alex, and his colleague, Dr. Irene Pepperberg, may be the reason for the popularity of this species, and certainly for its high profile. Alex and Dr. Pepperberg worked together for 30 years at Brandeis University until his unfortunate death in 2007, due to a catastrophic event associated to arteriosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”). In their three decades of research, Dr. Pepperberg taught Alex to recognize and identify objects, colors, and shapes. Alex could also understand the concepts of same and different, category, and could even count objects. Though Alex was on his way to much more complex thought processes, including how to read, his fellow African greys Griffin and Arthur (AKA “Wart”) are continuing to work with Dr. Pepperberg trying to reach the point that Alex had reached and even further.