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8 Popular Large Birds to Keep as Pets

Ed Malaker

No matter their size, birds are wonderful pets to have, but large species are arguably the most impressive. These birds usually have exceedingly long lifespans — often outliving their owners — and they are incredibly intelligent, with a massive capability of learning tricks and mimicking speech. They are also playful and notoriously affectionate, with a ton of unique personality. That said, they are a massive responsibility to care for due to their long lifespans and their high care and interaction needs — large birds do not enjoy being left alone in a cage.

There are various large pet birds to choose from, but we found some of the largest around! If you are up to the task of looking after one of these incredible birds, here are eight of the largest birds to keep as pets.divider-birdcage

1. Blue and Gold Macaw

Blue-and-Gold Macaw
Image Credit: khairicherus, Pixabay
Size: 30-36 inches
Lifespan: 50-60 years
Scientific name: Ara ararauna

The Blue and Gold Macaw is a truly beautiful parrot, hailing from the rainforests of Mexico and Central America. These birds have a gorgeous blue coloring on their wings, back, and tail feathers, with a golden yellow underside. They are social, intelligent, and adaptable birds that make wonderful pets, and they can develop an extensive vocabulary with training. These birds are loud and vocal and have exceedingly long lifespans, however, making them a massive responsibility to undertake.


2. Double Yellow-Headed Amazon Parrot

Double Yellow-Headed Amazon Parrot
Image Credit: Yellow-headed Amazon,Heather Paul, Flickr, Attribution CC 2.0
Size: 15-17 inches
Lifespan: 40-60 years
Scientific name: Amazona oratrix

One of the most popular of the Amazon parrots, the Double Yellow-Headed Amazon has a gorgeous yellow-and-green plumage, with characteristic white rings around their eyes. This parrot is the best of the Amazon parrots at mimicking speech, second only to the African Grey in its ability. They are known to memorize entire songs at times! They are also notoriously loud and noisy and can have bouts of screaming during the day if bored, so they are not suitable if you live in an apartment. They are supremely intelligent and affectionate, however, and form powerful bonds with their owners.


3. Eclectus

Noble,Green,Parrot,Eclectus,Close,Up
Image Credit: BUKatie, Shutterstock
Size: 17-20 inches
Lifespan: 30-40 years
Scientific name: Eclectus roratus

Eclectus Parrots are a dimorphic species, with the males sporting a bright-green plumage with tinges of blue and females sporting a bright-red plumage with a blue belly and neck. These parrots are known for being friendly, docile, and calm. They are far more laidback than some other large pet birds and are supremely intelligent too. They are sensitive birds, however, and do not enjoy being left alone for long periods. They are known to become depressed without regular interaction with their owners.


4. Hyacinth Macaw

Hyacinth Macaw
Image Credit: Erika Kirkpatrick, Shutterstock
Size: 35-40 inches
Lifespan: 40-60 years
Scientific name: Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus

Native to eastern South America, the Hyacinth Macaw is one of the largest parrots in the world. They make great pets in general but are certainly not suitable for novice owners because they have complex care needs. They are notoriously loud and known to be fairly nippy at times, and they need plenty of regular interaction to stay happy and healthy. They are also difficult to find as pets because trading in wild-caught specimens is illegal, and they are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity.


5. Moluccan (Umbrella) Cockatoo

Size: 15-20 inches
Lifespan: 40-60 years
Scientific name: Cacatua alba

The Moluccan Cockatoo, also known as the Umbrella Cockatoo, is native to the rainforests of Indonesia and is the largest of the White Cockatoo species. They are highly affectionate birds and are known to cuddle closely with their owners and need a ton of daily interaction and attention. They are easily distinguished from other Cockatoos by their large white crest that fans out like an umbrella when they are excited or agitated.


6. Red and Green Macaw

Size: 25-40 inches
Lifespan: 40-50 years
Scientific name: Ara chloropterus

One of the largest pet bird species, the Red and Green Macaw is commonly found in the forests of central South America. They have vibrant red feathers with green and turquoise wings and a large, intimidating beak. They are gentle birds, however, known to be one of the most docile of the Macaws, and they are rarely aggressive or bite their owners. They are also quieter than many other parrots, although they are certainly capable of making a great deal of noise if they choose to.


7. Scarlet Macaw

scarlet macaw
Image Credit: Angie Toh, Pixabay
Size: 30-40 inches
Lifespan: 50-70 years
Scientific name: Ara macao

The Scarlet Macaw is one of the most recognizable parrots in the world, with a creamy white face, bright-red feathers covering most of their body, and gorgeous yellow, green and turquoise coloring on their wings. These birds are not only magnificent in appearance but are also supremely intelligent, friendly, and affectionate parrots, known to form strong bonds with their owners. These parrots are large, challenging to care for, and notoriously noisy, so they are not ideal for novice owners.


8. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo Bird
Image Credit: hartono subagio, Pixabay
Size: 15-20 inches
Lifespan: 60-80 years
Scientific name: Cacatua galerita

While the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo may be the smallest bird on this list, they are one of the largest Cockatoo species. They can easily reach 20 inches tall or more. These birds are challenging to care for because they are highly active and playful and require a great deal of exercise to stay happy and healthy. They need plenty of time outside of their cage and a ton of daily attention, and they are exceedingly noisy. So, they are not ideal for beginners.divider-birdcage

Final Thoughts

Large birds are among the most unique pets that you can own, and they are universally beautiful, intelligent, and affectionate animals. They have long lifespans and complex care needs, though, so they are large responsibilities that should not be entered into lightly. With plenty of attention and interaction, though, they make wonderful pets and form lifelong bonds with their owners.

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Featured Image Credit: AKKHARAT JARUSILAWON, Shutterstock

Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.