Are Macaws Smart? (Answered!)

Parrots are known for having brilliant coloring, individual personalities, and overall intelligent natures.

When deciding on your new parrot, you might want to consider how much mental stimulation and attention each specific type will require from you.

The other day, I looked into some different kinds of parrots that people like to take for pets and came across Macaws.

Macaws are the largest parrot in the family and can live for more than 80 years; talk about a lifetime commitment!

Upon researching Macaws as a pet, it made me wonder: are Macaws smart?

Yes, Macaws are smart. Macaws are the second most intelligent parrot with IQ’s similar to that of a human toddler. Not only can Macaws talk, but they also display creative, logical, and predictive thinking skills. Due to their intelligent nature, Macaws require constant mental stimulation and can even experience human emotions such as love and jealousy.

Macaws are monogamous creatures that mate for life.

However, if you get a single Macaw, they are more likely to bond with you and be intimate and cuddly.

Single Macaws will also require more attention from you, so that’s why many owners like to keep Macaws in pairs.

Of course, they will still need your care, but they can stay more mentally occupied and stimulated with a mate.


How do you keep Macaws mentally stimulated?

One of the easiest ways to keep your Macaw mentally stimulated is by talking with it and consistently training it.

Each day, take some time to work with your Macaw on a word or sound, and once they have mastered that one, move onto another one.

By doing this, you will not only see your Macaw’s vocabulary expand, but you will keep their mind agile by getting them to actively learn new things each day.

Macaws also like to whistle and imitate other sounds such as bells, horns, and street noise.

If you find your Macaw prefers to whistle over talking, you could try to teach them a new tune and see if they will repeat it back to you.

As with all pet training, consistency is key so do some training every day for the best results.

Of course, remember to make it fun for your pet by adding treats or affection as rewards during training sessions.

Another crucial component of keeping your Macaw mentally stimulated is through the use of toys.

Some of the more popular toys for Macaws include chewing and foraging toys.

These toys can be purchased at most pet supply stores, but if you want to try and make some on your own, always double-check the materials you use to ensure it is safe for your Macaw to play with.

For variety’s sake, you could have multiple toys that you rotate each day or when you see that your pet needs new stimulation.

Macaws need to have at least 3-8 hours per day of supervised out-of-cage playtime.

It could be a great chance to play a mentally stimulating game with your Macaw during this time.

For example, you could play some fetch and retrieve with a soft toy, a game of peek-a-boo, or even hide-and-seek. Switching it up each time during play will add variety to your Macaws day and keep them mentally stimulated.

Overall, Macaws want to be near the action.

As mentioned, if you do not have a ton of time to spend with your Macaw, then getting it a mate could be a great solution.

However, your Macaw will need a certain amount of attention every day, whether it is mated or not, so always ensure you have enough time and space for this pet before adding one to your family.


Are Macaws smarter than dogs?

Recent studies have shown that Macaws have more intellectual capabilities than dogs.

Some main things that set Macaws apart from dogs are their emotional capacities and cognitive abilities.

Macaws can talk and feel emotions as well as see colors that dogs cannot.

All of these factors provide more accurate information to the Macaw’s brain and contribute to why researchers claim that Macaws are smarter than dogs.

As mentioned, a Macaw’s IQ is equivalent to that of a human toddler, and although some dogs can be extremely intelligent they just do not have access to the same cognitive range that Macaws do.

Macaws and other parrots can communicate their needs directly to us through words which sets them apart from other pets, including dogs that cannot do that.

All of these factors contribute to why experts claim that Macaws are smarter than dogs.


What else should do I need to know about Macaws?

Macaws are native to Central America, South America, and Mexico and have been kept as pets for over 3,000 years.

For example, Pueblo Indians were so swayed by their beauty and chatter that they were some of the first to take Macaws as personal pets as early as 1100 A.D.

Macaws are appropriately called “winged rainbows,” and there are nineteen different types of Macaws, with two of those being extinct.

The majority of Macaws are endangered in the wild due to deforestation and the illegal bird trade.

The most popular types of Macaws kept as pets include the Scarlet Macaw, Blue and Gold Macaw, Hahns Macaw, Hyacinth Macaw, and Green Wing Macaw.

Each type has its own unique qualities and characteristics, so depending on what you are looking for in your next pet would dictate your choice.

Furthermore, the facial feather pattern of each Macaw is as unique as a fingerprint and can be used to identify between similar-looking Macaws.

Macaws usually weigh between two and four pounds which is fairly hefty for a bird and why they require larger cages or aviaries.

However, since the Macaw is an intelligent bird, you’ll want to ensure that the enclosure has locks that the Macaw cannot learn how to open. 

Macaws are not known to be aggressive but always take extra caution if you need to introduce one into your aviary or sanctuary for the sake of your Macaw and other birds.

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