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What Is The Biggest Parrot? (Largest Ever vs. Alive Now)

Last Updated on January 29, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

There are 398 parrot species, all different shapes and sizes. They fall into 3 superfamilies: true parrots (Psittacoidea), cockatoos (Cacatuoidea), and New Zealand parrots (Strigopoidea).

The Heracles inexpectatus is the biggest parrot that has ever lived (now extinct), while the kākāpō is the heaviest parrot (critically endangered). The hyacinth macaw is the largest living parrot.

Largest Parrot That Ever Lived

The Heracles inexpectatus made its home along a river in southern New Zealand. Two fossilized bird legs were found, which provided sufficient DNA for scientists to analyze its genetics. 

They belonged to the Psittaciformes order and were about 200 million years old.

It was 1 meter tall and estimated to weigh 7 kilograms. This is double the weight of the kākāpō, the world’s heaviest parrot, and as tall as the average 4-year-old child.

Largest Breed of Parrot

The world’s largest parrot, hyacinth macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), is characterized by vivid blue feathers. They’re around 40 inches long, have a wingspan of 4 feet, and weigh 2.6-3.7 lbs.

The hyacinth macaw is found in central and eastern South America. In the wild, it lives in palm swamps and woodland areas, preferring to avoid dense forests.

Hyacinth macaws are rare because indigenous tribes hunted them for their meat and feathers. They’re now protected by international law, which prohibits their trade.

The hyacinth macaw has an average lifespan of 50 years.

what is the largest member of the parrot family?

Heaviest Parrots

The kākāpō (Strigos habroptilus), also known as the owl parrot, is a ground-dwelling bird of the superfamily Strigopoidea.

They measure about 23 to 25 inches long, which is shorter than most macaws. What sets them apart from other large birds is they’re the heaviest parrots in the world.

Kākāpōs weigh 2-9 pounds, which is why they’re flightless birds. They use their yellow-green feathers and nocturnal lifestyle to hide in forest vegetation from predators (ferrets, weasels, stoats, etc.).

Kākāpōs are critically endangered, with fewer than 250 alive today.

Is the kakapo the heaviest parrot?

Largest Cockatoo Species

The black palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) is also called the goliath cockatoo or great cockatoo. They’re recognizable due to their black plumage, red patches around their eyes, and large hookbills.

The palm cockatoo is the largest cockatoo species in terms of weight, not length. They measure 22 to 24 inches long and weigh 2 to 2.65 pounds.

They feed on fruit and nuts from the Andanus and Kanari trees. A species listed as of “least concern,” goliath cockatoos live in northeastern Australia, Indonesia, Sorong, New Guinea, and West Papua.

Black palm Cockatoo

Other Large Parrot Species

Here are some other big parrots worthy of discussion:

Scarlet Macaws

Scarlet macaws (Ara macao) reach about 33 inches long and weigh 2.2 pounds.

Scarlet macaws are striking parrots. Their feathers are vivid red with blue and yellow flashes on the wings and tail. They’re the national bird of Honduras.

They live in Southeastern Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Venezuela, where they feed on various fruits, nuts, seeds, flowers, and nectar.

Scarlet macaws live for an average of 40-50 years, but some reach 70.

scarlet macaw

Blue-and-Yellow Macaws

The blue-and-yellow macaw (Ara ararauna), also called the blue-and-gold macaw, is among the largest parrot species, reaching 30 to 36 inches.

They weigh up to 3 pounds and measure 34 to 36 inches long. Everything about blue-and-yellow macaws is larger than life, from their size to their attitude and voice.

They live and thrive in the woodlands, forests, and tropical savannahs of Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru. Their life expectancy is usually between 30 and 50 years.

They’re loud parrots with ear-piercing contact calls used to alert their flock members. Although their population has declined, the IUCN lists them as “least concern.”

Blue-and-Yellow Macaw

Red And Green Macaws

Red-and-green macaws (Ara chloropterus), also called green-winged macaws, are 35 to 37 inches long and weigh 2.3 to 3.75 pounds.

Green-winged macaws have mostly red feathers interspersed with some green and blue plumage. Their life expectancy typically ranges from 50 to 70 years.

Like many other macaw species, they live in the forests and woodlands of Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Paraguay.

The IUCN lists green-winged macaws as “of least concern,” but the illegal pet trade, hunting, and habitat loss are reducing their numbers.

Red-And-Green Macaw

Great Green Macaws

Great green macaws (Ara ambiguous), also known as the Buffon’s macaws or the great military macaws, are about 24 inches long and weigh up to 3 pounds.

They’re often mistaken for military macaws, but their feathers are lighter green, and their beaks are white.

Buffon’s macaws feed on various nuts, seeds, fruits, bulbs, flowers, roots, and tree bark in Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.

With a fast-reducing population, the IUCN lists great military macaws as a critically endangered species.

Military Macaws

Military macaws (Ara militaris), also called Bolivian military macaws and Mexican military macaws, measure 27.5 to 33.5 inches long and weigh 2 to 2.4 pounds.

They physically resemble great green macaws but aren’t quite as large.

They primarily have bright green feathers, a red patch at the front of their heads, red and blue on their tails/flight feathers, and black beaks. Their look resembles a military uniform, hence their name.

They’re found in Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, southern Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Argentina, where they feed on seeds, fruits, and leaves.

The IUCN lists military macaws as a vulnerable parrot species because their numbers are in the low thousands. They live in flocks with an average lifespan of 50 to 60 years.

Military Macaws

Blue-Throated Macaws

Blue-throated macaws (Ara glaucogularis), also called Wagler’s macaws, can reach 33 inches long and weigh 2 to 2.5 pounds. Many blue-throated macaws live for 50+ years.

Their feathers are turquoise-blue with bright yellow undersides. They also have a “blue beard” (patch of blue) along their throats, surrounded by featherless skin.

Wagler’s macaws live only in Llano de Moxos (Bolivia), nesting in islands of palm trees. Unsurprisingly, their diet comprises palm tree fruit, seeds, and nuts.

Blue-throated macaws are a critically endangered species, with just a few hundred remaining.

Blue-Throated Macaw

The Heracles inexpectatus is the largest bird that ever lived, but it has long been extinct. The largest living parrot is the hyacinth macaw (length), closely followed by the kākāpō (weight).

Most of the biggest parrot species are macaws, but many cockatoo species (like black palm cockatoos and yellow-tailed black cockatoos ) are also enormous parrots.

Their size and limited numbers mean that most large parrot species are unsuitable pets. They’re best observed at zoos and bird sanctuaries, which are better placed to meet their needs.