Flora and FaunaGeographical Insights

What is the Biggest Parrot in the World? Unveiling the Avian Giants

The quest to identify the world’s biggest parrot takes us on an exciting journey, examining two particular contenders: the Hyacinth Macaw and the Kakapo. These two species exemplify the extraordinary diversity and adaptations found within the parrot family. In this article, we’ll delve into these magnificent birds’ characteristics, habitats, behaviors, and conservation status.

Hyacinth Macaw: The Largest Flying Parrot

Close-up of a Hyacinth Macaw showing its vibrant blue feathers and distinctive yellow eye ring
The Hyacinth Macaw, known for its bright blue plumage and powerful beak, is the largest flying parrot in the world.

Characteristics:

The Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), native to central and eastern South America, stands out as the largest parrot by length in the world. This striking bird measures approximately 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) from the tip of its tail to the top of its head, with a weight ranging between 1.2 to 1.7 kg (2 lb 10 oz – 3 lb 12 oz)​​. Its vibrant blue plumage and bright yellow around its eyes and beak are distinctive​​.

Diet:

Hyacinth Macaws feed on nuts from specific palm species like acuri and bocaiuva palms, utilizing their strong beaks to crack open even the toughest shells​​.

Breeding and Nesting:

These birds nest between July and December, typically in tree cavities or cliff faces. In the Pantanal region, a significant number use the manduvi tree for nesting​​.

Habitat:

The Hyacinth Macaw is found in three main areas: the Pantanal region of Brazil, adjacent eastern Bolivia and northeastern Paraguay, the cerrado regions of eastern Brazil, and the open areas near the Tocantins River in the Amazon Basin of Brazil​​.

Conservation Status:

Classified as vulnerable, the Hyacinth Macaw faces threats from habitat loss, hunting for food, and the pet trade. However, efforts like the Hyacinth Macaw Project in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, have been instrumental in their conservation​​.

Kakapo: The Heaviest Parrot

Kakapo named 'Trevor' feasting on poroporo fruit in its natural habitat
Department of Conservation – Kakapo ‘Trevor’ feeding on ripe poroporo fruit, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Characteristics:

The Kakapo (Strigops habroptila), an endemic New Zealand species, is the world’s heaviest parrot. Adult males weigh around 1.5–3 kg (3.3–6.6 lb), and females are slightly lighter, weighing 0.950–1.6 kg (2.09–3.53 lb). They can be up to 64 cm (25 in) long and are notable for their finely blotched yellow-green plumage and owl-style features​​.

Unique Adaptations:

The Kakapo is the only flightless parrot, nocturnal, herbivorous, and exhibits a low basal metabolic rate. It has a unique polygynous lek breeding system and is possibly one of the world’s longest-living birds​​.

Habitat and Diet:

As a ground-dwelling bird, the Kakapo is an excellent climber and feeds on fruits, seeds, leaves, stems, and rhizomes​​.

Conservation Status:

Critically endangered, with a known population of just 247 individuals as of 2023. Conservation efforts, particularly the Kakapo Recovery Programme, have been crucial in preventing its extinction​​.

Top 10 Largest Parrots in the World

Rank Parrot Size (Length; Weight)
1 Kakapo 23-25 inches; 2-9 pounds
2 Hyacinth Macaw 39 inches; 2.3-3.7 pounds
3 Red-and-Green Macaw 35-37 inches; 2.3-3.7 pounds
4 Blue-and-Yellow Macaw 30-34 inches; up to 3 pounds
5 Great Green Macaw 33.5-35.5 inches; up to 2.9 pounds
6 Palm Cockatoo 22-24 inches; up to 2.6 pounds
7 Military Macaw 27.5-33.5 inches; 2.5 pounds
8 Blue-Throated Macaw 33 inches; between 2.0-2.5 pounds
9 Scarlet Macaw 32 inches; nearly 2.2 pounds
10 Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo 22-26 inches; up to 1.9 pounds

Note: The Kakapo, being flightless, is the largest parrot by weight, while the Hyacinth Macaw is the largest flying parrot.

What Did We Learn Today? 

In summary, the Hyacinth Macaw claims the title of the biggest parrot by length and the largest flying parrot species. In contrast, the Kakapo holds the record as the heaviest parrot, a unique and endearing species with its distinctive characteristics and conservation story.

The Hyacinth Macaw and the Kakapo are wondrous examples of nature’s diversity and remind us of the importance of conservation efforts to protect these extraordinary birds and their habitats.

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