How Smart are Macaws? (Find Out!)

Last Updated on November 10, 2022 by Ali Shahid

The giants of the parrot world, one of the best talkative parrots with the longest period. Yes, you are right. We are talking about the macaws. You must be familiar with the beautiful, charismatic, and comic character macaws. But do you know how smart are macaws?

With IQs similar to that of a human toddler, macaws rank second among parrots in intelligence. Macaws are not only capable of speaking but are also creative in thinking.

Being intelligent, Macaws need constant mental stimulation and are capable of feeling emotions like love and jealousy. Their forebrains are packed with neurons, maybe even with a higher level of connectivity than primates.

Researchers from the University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge discovered that parrot brains are well-connected between the two parts:

Cerebellum: controls motor activities and balance

Cortex: responsible for processing information and thinking

Now we will explore some other characteristics of Macaws to find out how smart are macaws.

Why Macaws Are So Smart (8 Reasons)

The macaw is a very social, active, and interactive bird. According to wildlife experts, these parrots fly in flocks looking for food in the wild and interacting with other birds. Once they find a mate, they live together forever.

They take care of each other throughout their lives. In captivity, macaws also develop a strong connection with their owners. Here are some of the reasons why I consider macaws smart:

1.IQ equal to a human toddler’s

As I have already mentioned, a macaw’s IQ level is similar to a toddler’s. Macaws have intelligence and emotional quotients that can be compared to two-three-year-old.

If they are denied treatment and attention from their human, macaws display their thinking capabilities through sulking (Crying, or Protesting). They also “blush” and fluff their feathers to indicate emotion.

2. Behave and Think logically

The macaw uses its brain to plan its activities. Studies have shown that macaws can deal with minor problems on their own. When they are in the wild, they fly between trees searching for food. They explore the food and find ways to get it.

The process is natural. Furthermore, macaws will find food anywhere in their cage if it’s hidden. In fact, they found seeds hidden in pebbles.

Macaws can hold nuts and break them into pieces with their beaks. As with human babies, macaws can select their favorite food while leaving the rest aside.

3. Seek Attention And Care

Whether in the wild or in captivity, macaws love attention. They make different sounds to attract other birds. I have always found macaws to be interactive and involved with other birds.

If you’re thinking about getting a macaw, pay attention to its attention-seeking behavior. A macaw requires a lot of attention from its owner.

4. Macaws can talk

Wild macaws communicate with their flocks via vocalizations. Scientists believe these macaws use a variety of sounds to communicate danger, mark territories, and advise one another.

According to one research, Macaw parents are the only birds to assign different sounds to their offspring. You can train macaws to mimic the sounds and language of humans when they are kept in captivity.

These parrots often laugh, beep, and whistle! Nevertheless, the younger macaws will learn new sounds more readily than the older ones, who simply aren’t interested.

5. Good Memory

They retain memories for the rest of their lives. Wild macaws live a maximum of 35 years. However, captive macaws can live up to 80 years. If they’re in the right conditions, they’ll respond well.

Studies have shown that macaws are faster learners than other parrots. Learning should take place in a step-by-step manner. The first time they pronounce a word, the word is stored in their memory for as long as they live.

6. Macaws are loyal

Macaws are typically lifelong mates. In addition to breeding with each other, they also share food and groom each other. They fly so close when they’re in the wild that their wingtips almost touch.

7. Macaws can be trained

It may surprise you to discover that these birds have been popular for over 3000 years for their beauty and tricks. Macaws can learn several tricks, including counting, basic math, and telling left from right.

Obviously, they are simply verbalizing human words to a cue, but it’s still amazing! It is also possible to teach macaws tricks based on audio and visual cues. I love watching macaws wave, bow, play dead, turn around, stuff other funny kinds of stuff.

8. Expressive And Emotional

The macaw is a highly active bird that plays and interacts with other birds to live a healthy and happy life. Unlike domesticated birds, wild birds fly where they want. The birds’ chirp, make noise, interact, and feed together in this situation.

In general, this is a result of their happiness. It is believed that when they feel joy, they use a variety of sounds and emotions to convey their feelings. Caged macaws are confined to a small space, where they play with the same toys every day.

This situation leads to boredom and negative emotions such as anger, stress, and aggression. To solve the problem, provide lots of play areas and mental stimulation. Keep the cages stocked with new toys.

Proven Scientific Studies

Research conducted in 2018 in Canada revealed that the cortex and cerebellum of a parrot’s brain communicate via a specific part. This is referred to as a spiriform, which is similar to those found in primates.

According to scientists, it coordinates and executes Macaw’s advanced behaviors. A team of researchers also mapped the genome of Macaws in an attempt to determine their intelligence.

According to their study, researchers discovered that Macaws have significantly more intelligent brain development than chickens. It is evident from the fact that they can learn human words and sentences.


Taking all factors into account, macaws are among the most intelligent birds on earth. They’re known for mimicking and talking. Additionally, you can train them to do different tricks. They’re also emotional like us.

They hate loneliness and need constant mental stimulation. So, bear this in mind when purchasing a macaw parrot.


Gutiérrez-Ibáñez, C., Iwaniuk, A.N. & Wylie, D.R. Parrots have evolved a primate-like telencephalic-midbrain-cerebellar circuit. Sci Rep 8, 9960 (2018).

Ralph P, Coop G (2013) The Geography of Recent Genetic Ancestry across Europe. PLoS Biol 11(5): e1001555.


  • Ali Shahid

    Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.

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