The 5 Most Popular Large Parrots

Large parrots are well-established as popular pets. And while they're very fun to have around the home, there are some key points to know before taking on a large parrot.

These birds are very intelligent and get bored easily if not offered enough mental stimulation. A lack of social interaction also can lead to behavioral problems and even physical illness in large parrots. But for people who can commit to caring for them properly, a large parrot can offer unmatched companionship and a unique pet ownership experience.

  • 01 of 05

    Blue-and-Gold Macaws

    Two blue-and-gold macaws perched on a tree

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    The blue-and-gold macaw is a highly recognizable large parrot species that has enjoyed immense popularity as a pet for many years. These colorful parrots are extremely intelligent and often take well to learning tricks and how to talk.

    Blue-and-gold macaws have strong personalities and are happiest in homes with experienced parrot owners. Expect to give your blue-and-gold macaw a significant amount of time to socialize and play outside of its cage if you take one on as a pet.

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    African Grey Parrots

    Close-up of an African grey parrot

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    The work of renowned scientist Dr. Irene Pepperberg and her famous bird Alex drew attention to the African grey parrot, another popular large parrot species. The intelligence and emotional capacity of the African grey are often compared to those of a 5-year-old human. (As charming as that may sound, bear in mind they don't move past the maturity of a 5-year-old.)

    A bored, unattended African grey can quickly become a destructive escape artist. In the wild, parrots chew wood from trees. If left to their own devices in captivity, African grey parrots might revert to this innate behavior and chew on whatever is available. So because of the bird's intellect and natural impulses, many African grey owners constantly have to find new ways to keep their pets occupied.

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    Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrots

    Yellow-naped parrot on a branch

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    The yellow-naped Amazon parrot—one of the best talkers in the parrot family—makes a fine avian companion. These sweet birds have sunny dispositions, bonding closely with their human owners.

    But anyone thinking of adopting a yellow-naped Amazon should be aware that these birds can live more than 70 years if properly cared for. Clearly, this isn't a commitment to be taken lightly.

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    Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos

    Sulphur-crested cockatoo walking in a field

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    The beautiful sulphur-crested cockatoo is a large parrot that comes in two different sizes. The greater sulphur-crested cockatoo measures around 20 inches in length while the lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo comes in at about 15 inches from beak to tail feathers. Aside from their sizes, the two varieties are very similar.​

    Like all birds of the cockatoo family, sulphur-crested cockatoos have a reputation for being very affectionate. They need to spend ample time interacting with their owners (whom they think of as their flock mates) to avoid becoming emotionally distraught. These charming birds aren't exactly prima donnas, but they are very high-maintenance when it comes to their emotional needs. 

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    Eclectus Parrots

    Close-up of an eclectus parrot in an aviary

    Sergio Mendoza Hochmann / Getty Images

    The striking eclectus is another large parrot species that offers bird lovers a couple of options. Being a sexually dimorphic species, the male and female eclectus each have very distinct plumage. Males are a vivid green color while females are a beautiful deep red with bluish-purple accents.

    There also are three distinct subspecies of eclectus parrots, offering even greater variety. Like many other types of large parrots, the eclectus has a very long lifespan. Many have been known to live well over 50 years in captivity with proper care.