Should I Buy a Macaw or an African Grey?

Updated on February 19, 2020
the50marathons17 profile image

I'm a parrot expert who has owned both a macaw and an African grey. I'm happy to share what I've learned with aspiring bird owners!

Comparing and Contrasting the Macaw and African Grey

Thinking about buying a macaw or African grey parrot? Can't decide which to get? The following article will attempt to answer all of your questions.

As a personal owner of each of these parrots, both at different times (so total attention was given to each), I have concluded that I enjoy the macaw more than the grey. Allow me to compare and contrast the following topics:

  1. Trainability
  2. Energy
  3. Intellect
  4. Appearance
  5. Destructiveness
  6. Loudness
  7. Size
  8. Aggressiveness

1. Trainability

Both parrots unmistakably have the ability to learn "tricks." Although the grey is far superior in the sense of intellect, I believe the macaw is easier to train. The lower attention span of the macaw invites the trainer to short 15-minute sessions. When training my macaw, Gracie, sessions were short and enjoyable. The grey's sessions used to be (my brother took my grey Bubba when he moved out) around 30 minutes, even up to 45!

Sure, the African grey learns quicker, but a busy fella like me would rather spend his precious time devoted to his parrot playing with the bird, not extensive training. I am a new writer on this website, but will post some pictures and videos of my training sessions.

2. Energy

Anyone who has seen a macaw or an African grey knows the macaw is the Energizer Bunny compared to the grey. My blue and gold is about two years old and hasn't stopped moving since she was born. Her cage is tremendous (40 x 32 x 67) but still too small! She is constantly hanging, flapping, rolling, bobbing, and flipping around, never in the same spot for more than a second. She doesn't stop until 9 pm, when suddenly all movement ceases and she is out like a light in her top perch, in which a nuclear bomb wouldn't disturb her peace!

Bubba, my grey, usually tends to be laid back, serene, and quite chatty. At times, he will have his energy bursts, but he is usually contempt with the gentle rock of his swing, watching the world go by outside, talking in full sentences as if someone was listening.

I don't clip either of these parrots' wings, and during the spring and summer we enjoy the great outdoors in our aviary that I built. The moment I let them free in the confined area, they both shoot like rockets, grateful for the exercise. After five minutes, Bubba is done and loiters on his branch from a tree I planted. I have to literally catch Gracie in order to stop her from flying around the aviary. I prefer the high-energy bird. It is indeed more enjoyable.

3. Intellect

This category is strongly dedicated to the African grey. No other parrot I have ever encountered has such an ability to learn words, signs, movements, and conversation as this bird. In less than three years, Bubba has learned sentences at a time. He is even smart enough to copy the door-bell sound and the microwave alarm. The theory is that the bird must be thinking, "Upon hearing the sound, the human runs to the sound. So if I make the same sound, maybe the human will run to me!"

Don't get me wrong; macaws are smart as well. In my two years with Gracie, she has picked up around twenty phrases/words, totaling up to around thirty or so words! Greys also have the ability to whistle, and Bubba shows off profusely during the day. Whenever I try to teach Gracie to whistle, she becomes frustrated and screams.

Some Pics of Gracie and Bubba

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My B&G GracieMy B&G Gracie
My B&G Gracie
My B&G Gracie
My B&G Gracie
My B&G Gracie

4. Appearance

There isn't a more beautiful sight than looking at all the different breeds of macaws. Although the African grey has shades of grey, with a red tail and such, it does not compare to the vibrancy of the macaw. Scarlet, Greenwing, Hyacinth, Buffon's, Military, you name it (I don't normally suggest buying hybrids). A fully stretched out, in-flight macaw is a gift from nature.

5. Destructiveness

This can either be a pro or a con, really, depending on the owner. Macaws are very destructive parrots, destroying toys fairly easily. If left unsupervised, they will rip up your furniture! Gracie shreds through chunks of 2 x 4 I buy at the pet store as efficiently as an axe would.

African greys do have a nice size beak, but they aren't nearly as destructive. You won't have to replenish toys as often, and therefore you can save a few bucks (this still means each type of parrot needs plenty of toys to keep them busy and prevent feather plucking). I have found that African greys have the ability to entertain themselves by whistling, lounging, or looking outside. Sometimes, if I wouldn't be home for a few hours, I would turn on the radio and prop it in front of Bubba, and that would satisfy him.

A bored macaw is a dangerous macaw. Its so sad to see these birds, or any bird really, with plucked feathers. In short, plenty of wood and leather toys with a close eye out of the cage can minimize any bird's destructive habits.

6. Loudness

Most people don't fully comprehend why birds in general are such loud animals. First of all, birds are able to scream consistently for hours on end because they do not have windpipes. This means a bird will never be able to lose his or her "voice." As long as there is oxygen to breathe in, there is plenty of yelling to be done!

They are so loud because they compete with any other noise to be the loudest. In the wild, the loudest, most beautiful songs attract the female mate. Any parrot owner who has put on the vacuum, blasted the radio, or something of the like knows just how competitive these parrots are.

Macaws are significantly louder than greys. A general rule to go by is the bigger the bird, the bigger the noise. An apartment building is not a smart idea for a macaw, and probably not even a grey. If you want one of these birds, be prepared for the screaming.

7. Size

Both parrots are quite impressive in size. The macaw does have the size advantage. A macaw can be any size around 80 to 90 cm, depending on species. There are some smaller species of macaws, called mini-macaws, which are just about the same size as an African grey. Also, a macaw's tail is significantly larger, measuring up to 18 inches! An adult macaw is able to maintain its tail well with a daily shower.

African greys, to most people, are just the perfect size. The tail is short and red, which doesn't pose as a problem. You can also get away with a smaller cage than a macaw, which could save money.

Note: If you are worried about spending too much money, do not consider a parrot. Between toys, food, and accessories, be prepared to dish out thousands over the bird's lifetime.

8. Aggressiveness

This might be the most important topic out of the eight I have posted. Before I talk about my experiences, let me tell you any bird can be taught not to nip, bite, scratch, etc. It takes time and patience.

African greys are well-known to be nippy. They are also mildly temperamental, and they do show signs of "a bad mood." Most of the time, the owner will receive a little bite or a nip, rarely anything serious. Bubba only bit or nipped me when I tried to put him back in the cage for the day.

A macaw usually is a gentle and friendly parrot. However, macaws, in their playful manner, tend to play too rough and could do some damage with that monstrous beak. I once heard a rumor that there was a YouTube video of a macaw snapping a broomstick, but I cannot confirm that because I could not find the video. I do know, however, that a macaw can pack a serious punch.

A full-grown hyacinth can put out over 200 pounds per inch2. Gracie can snap a walnut to pieces with one easy chomp. My macaw has never ever bit me because she was mad—only when she plays a little too rough. Either one you choose, be careful of that beak until he or she is properly trained!

Make Sure to Do More Research on Your New Pet!

I hope I helped somewhat in your quest for knowledge of these wonderful animals. However, I did not include other important facts, such as breeding or health issues. So far, I have been blessed with healthy birds and do not choose to breed them, so I am less knowledgeable in those areas. I also did not post any specific diets for these birds, so be sure to check that out.

I am open for questions and criticism, as there is always a window for learning! Be sure to comment, and (as I promised) I will be posting videos and pictures of me with my birds/training sessions! God Bless!


Which would you prefer to buy?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      10 months ago

      I want to buy BGM do you have any recomended seller that can shipped abroad? Im from Philippines. Please Legit seller only. There are a lot of scammer who sell online. Thanks for those who will help.

    • profile image

      Kelly marquez 

      11 months ago

      Thank you for your Input I was wondering just that Should I get a blue gold or Gray

    • profile image

      John Shearing 

      20 months ago

      Fantastic article.

      Thanks for writing so clearly.

    • Ryan Coake profile image

      Ryan Coake 

      2 years ago

      I've not seen a video of a macaw splitting a broomstick, but I was using a broom to stave of the advances of an angry scarlet macaw, and he grabbed it and split the end easily.

      Honestly, a broom stick is what.. an inch, maybe 1.5 inches thick and it's not uber strong wood. A grown macaw can snap that with ease. My own BGM reduces 2x4 and 4x4 blocks to toothpicks in minutes.

      The big macaws: hyacinth, buffons, green wing, scarlet, blue and gold, and blue throated have beaks that *must* be respected... not feared, just respected. If the bird is inclined it can leave you needing stitches, or worse.

      All that said, all the blood that has been shed to parrots in our house has been to the little grey razorface herself... our african grey.

    • profile image


      3 years ago


      I was looking to adopt a Blue Gold Macaw or African Grey parrot as a pet.

      I came across you site and it helped me in knowing both species better. I am a stay at home mom with two little daughters. Recenly we visited a relative who has a Blue Gold and we enjoyed playing with him...thus the decision to have our own. Haven't still decided which one I am going to have but I am hoping I can give them the love and care they need.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Really good read, and I can see some people have got a new parrot pet! I hope it goes well for you guys. Just wanted to drop a line and let you know of a new site that we been working on to help people with Macaws, check it out and let us know what you think.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hello Guys

      Great news for you today xzbluebabies offering trained parrots for adoption and guest what they do arrange for shipping to other location for good prices

      Here are the names of bird they do offer

      Congo African grey

      Blue & Gold Macaw

      Scarlet Macaw

      Umbrella Cockatoo

      If your interested and you need more info’s just visit their website

    • the50marathons17 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      So happy you love your new bird. Its a commitment that is so rewarding!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi,i am a new owner of a blue and gold as we got him in august and me and my parner love him to pieces! He was wanted for a very long time by my boyfriend but i knew it wld be like a full time job and hate the idea of any bird being in a cage so always said i didn't want one but after a year of pursuading we went and had a look at some babys from a breeder and i fell in love with are little chuckles.He is such a joy but like i thought he is hard work and like a child but if you do your research you get to undersand why he does the things he does like calling for you when you leave without him that purly means he sees you as family and doesn't want to feel like you dont love him because in the wild they are never without there flock.he is sooo friendly with both me and my boyfreind as we share doing feeds and showers and playtime . He also always likes us together and likes to sit inbetween us and have a cuddle.i would say only get a parrot if he is going to be out for at least 6 hours so you get a real strong bond with them and read up on everything so you know your stuff and get a great big cage for when he sleeps and you go out.i wouldn't trade him for the world he is beyond a joy to have.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have both of them ,the african grey talks way more than the macaw but everyone loves the macaw for his colors

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi, Im 16 years old and im thinkin about buying a pair of macaws, i do have experience with bird (i have an african grey). but the problem is that when i go to collage i will not have the time for them (i might also go to study abroad) my parents can feed the birds and play with them a bit, my sisters also might spend time with them. and the cage im willing to put them in is really really massive (i will build not buy one) although im still concerned.

      If i bought a pair, will they need less attention since they are together? or it will just double the problem?

      Please help me

    • profile image


      8 years ago


    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      8 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Voted awesome. Someone that I knew took in rescued greys that had emotional problems. She also raised some babies from the egg, one of whom I got to meet. The bird just wanted to cuddle and was very sweet.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have owned a blue and gold for fifteen yrs, have had since he had no feathers, left him alone while i worked as a teacher and a sweeter parrot doesn't exist, he is funny and completely smart loving and cuddly,I would pick a macaw any day.

    • steryker profile image


      8 years ago from long island new york

      As a gray owner you give good reasons to be either a gray owner or a macaw owner. I have never been bitten becouse my gray was mad either and i find that i prefer the grays company to my sons blue and gold becouse the gray is much calmer.

    • the50marathons17 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Long Island, New York

      I wouldn't..these birds need a high ammount of attention and time out of the cage. Unless someone else is around your house, I wouldn't.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi i had a question . Will african grey stay i cage for a full day . because i am planing to get that i am staying alone . if i started for my work at morning i will be back at evening only . so shall i go for it or not pleasr any one give me reply

      mail ID :

      Thank you


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)