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Mini Macaws vs. Large Macaws Explained at Last

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Pair of Noble Macaws in Cage

Mini or Large Macaw: Which Should I Choose?

Should I choose a mini or regular-sized macaw?

Thinking about adopting a macaw but can't seem to decide between a miniature or large? Both are amazing creatures that make wonderful companions for the family. Macaws - mini and large - are affectionate, intelligent, and feature brilliantly colored plumage.

However, there are some subtle differences between the two varieties that shouldn't go unnoticed. Before you hastily make a decision to adopt a macaw, read on to educate yourself on the unique characteristics of each variety. Large macaws are described  in our last article.

What is a Mini Macaw?

Chestnut-fronted (Severe) Macaw

Let's first go over the basic definition of "mini macaw," because many people get confused regarding this terminology. Mini macaws refer to a particularly small-sized group of macaws in the tribe Arini

Generally speaking, a mini macaw is longer than 20 inches from its beak to tail. Any macaw that's larger than this amount if classified as a  full-sized or large macaw.

With their fun-loving personality and small size, mini-macaws make wonderful family pets. Traditional macaws are simply too large for some families to effectively raise, especially for those living in apartments or locations with limited space. Mini-macaws, however, are a group of smaller macaw species within the Arini tribe. 

They possess the same attractive characteristics and personality traits as traditional macaws, but they are much smaller in size. Their small size allows families living in apartments, duplexes or shared housing environment to safely raise them.

Species of Miniature Macaws

Some of the different  species of mini macaws include the following:

  • Chestnut-fronted (Severe) Macaw (Ara severa) - One of the largest macaws which is mostly green with red and blue patches on their wings, shown in the picture to the right!
  • Golden-collared Macaw (Primolius auricollis) - Mostly green, with a distinct yellow collar on the back of the neck which becomes more vibrant as the bird ages
  • Blue-winged (Illiger's) Macaw (Primolius maracana) - Has blue wings (duh!) and is native to eastern and southern Brazil 
  • Blue-headed (Coulon's) Macaw (Primolius couloni) - Has blue-colored head, flight feathers, and primary coverts
  • Red-bellied Macaw (Orthopsittaca manilatus) - Has a large maroon patch on its belly
  • Red-shouldered Macaw (Diopsittaca nobilis) - The smallest macaw, shown in picture at the top of the post!

Vocal Abilities - Smaller Size & Smaller Voice

There are several attractive features of mini macaws that draws people to choose them as pets over other parrots or birds. For starters, mini macaws are relatively quiet and don't make a lot of noise. Like most parrots, they enjoy singing every once in a while, but their small size limits their vocal abilities. 

If you are looking for a relatively quite pet bird that's not going to disturb the neighbors, you can't go wrong with a mini-macaw. The miniature macaw is generally considered quieter than regular macaws.

Bright, Beautiful Plumage

Of course, mini macaws still possess the same beautiful plumage as their larger counterparts. Depending on the particular species, some of them will have an array of brilliant plumage consisting of vibrant colors such as emerald green, yellow, red, orange and various shades of blue. Their beautiful appearance alone is reason enough for some people to choose them as pets!

Red-Bellied Miniature Macaw

Small Parrots with Big Brains

Don't let the mini macaw's small size fool you into thinking it's not intelligent. On the contrary, these are some of the smartest parrots you'll come across. They are capable of learning full phrases simply by listening to people in the house. 

Even if you don't actively teach your mini-macaw any words, they will likely learn from hearing you and other members of your family speak. Owners can also teach their mini-macaws basic tricks like the handshake or dance.

Raising a Mini Macaw

Mini-macaws need a proper living environment that meets all of their needs. Purchasing a high quality cage with a food bowl, water bowl and a perch is good starting point. Make sure the cage features bars that are appropriately spaced apart to prevent your mini-macaw from getting stuck! We recommend cages with a bar spacing of 1/2" to 3/4" for miniature macaws, while large macaws are better suited for bar spacing of 3/4" to 1".

Some of the cheaper cages out there are downright dangerous for parrots such as the mini-macaw to live in. The bottom line is that you shouldn't try to cut corners by purchasing a low-quality cage.

A miniature macaw should also be given plenty of toys to occupy their time. Before placing any new items into their cage, however, owners should check to make sure it's “parrot-safe.” Any wooden items with pressure-treated chemicals pose a threat to the well-being of a mini-macaw. Only use natural wood toys that do not contain paint or finish.

Choosing Between a Mini and Large Macaw

One of the reasons why mini macaws are such a popular choice is because they require less space. Individuals and families living in apartments or other small dwellings often choose them this for this reason alone. Due to their smaller physical size, mini macaws can live comfortably inside smaller cages.

Mini macaws also eat less food and drink less water than their counterpart. Being that mini macaws eat less, owners won't have to make quite as many trips to the pet store, which subsequently saves them money.

But there are still advantages to choosing a large macaw, one of which is their playful disposition. Don't get me wrong, mini macaws are amazing creatures that are eager to play and please their owner. However, most experts will agree that full-sized large macaws have the upper hand in terms of intelligence and ability to learn tricks.

Which Type of Macaw do You Prefer?

There you have it, the qualities that separate the miniature macaws from their big brothers. So, should you choose a mini or large macaw? There's really no easy answer to this question, as it depends on your preference and setting. If you live in a home or apartment with limited space, then your best option is probably to choose a mini macaw. If space isn't a problem, then you have more freedom to choose whichever macaw you prefer.

Do you prefer mini or large macaws? Let us know in the comments section below!

Photo Credits (top to bottom):

© 2006 Photo by TJ Lin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/36718407@N00/) and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

© 2007 Photo by Eric Savage (https://www.flickr.com/photos/efsavage/) and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

© 2008 Photo by A C Moraes (https://www.flickr.com/photos/acmoraes/) and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

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