Are African Greys Smarter Than Macaws?

Are african greys smarter than macaws?If you are like us and you research many parrots for fun and knowledge, you may begin to wonder if the African Grey is smarter than the macaw, to which the answer is yes.

Are African Greys Smarter Than Macaws? African Greys are smarter than Macaws. They have been reported to have the same intelligence level in some cases as that of a five-year-old child. African Greys have the best mimicry of all parrot species and are also studied by colleges like Harvard and others for their amazing abilities. 

This is not to say that macaws are not extremely intelligent, because they are. But why does the African Grey win out? Read on to know more.

The Intelligence of African Greys

First, let’s learn a little about the African Grey and its intelligence. These birds are really something else when you think about how smart they are.

You can look on YouTube and see many beloved pets talking, singing songs they’ve heard, or making noises as they get filmed by their owners.

They have a sense of humor, and they love attention. These are great anecdotal pieces of evidence that African Greys are smart as a whip.

They Are Smart and Intelligent

But the fact that we have many pet owners and even bird specialists at zoos showing off how smart they are pales in comparison to the documented evidence that these birds are truly intelligent creatures.

They are so smart they are thought to have the mental and emotional level that matches that of a five-year-old human child.

Perhaps the most famous African Grey you have learned about in your research was Alex. Alex was an African Grey that was studied at Harvard, Brandeis and University of Arizona.

He was so smart; he is known as the only non-human to ask the question “What color?” in reference to himself.African Greys compared to macaws intelligence

The Experiment Begins

He was bought at a pet store by scientist Irene Pepperberg. Her goal was to test if primates could handle complex issues in relation to language understanding but did not believe birds could do such a thing.

She named him Alex for Avian Learning Experiment.

Little did she know that she was in for a huge surprise-and when Alex passed away in 2007, he had not even reached his full potential for learning. Alex learned to speak over 100 words. Alex did not learn by rote.

Instead, when he was asked about shape, color, or what an object was made of, Alex could describe it. He was then tested by being shown the same object but in a different color or shape.

For instance, Alex was shown keys of varying sizes, shapes, and colors. He did not have any trouble identifying what it was. Later on, he was placed in front of a mirror and asked, “What color?” in reference to himself.

After being told the answer six times-gray-he internalized that was his color. So far as we know, Alex is the only animal to pose a question about himself.

Sadly, Alex died much earlier than most birds like him at the age of 31. Most African Greys live up to 70 years of age, so this was a huge disappointment, especially since he was in a good healthy state when he passed.

Things You Need to Know Before Having an African Grey as Pet

Aside from Alex, African Grey owners are impressed with how smart their pets are. Good African Grey owners know that to raise one the right way, you need plenty of cage space, resources and of course time and patience.

These lovely birds form ultra-deep bonds with their owners, and they can be very needy, just like a young child.

They do best with owners who can handle socializing them each and every day for a few hours. They also need plenty of playtime to stay strong, healthy and stimulated.

If you are thinking about getting an African Grey as a family pet, you should read our article on that here!

The Intelligence of Macaws

Macaws certainly have the African Grey beat when it comes to colorful plumage. Scarlet macaws and blue-and-gold macaws are what many people first think of when they think of any parrot. Not only are these guys super colorful, but they are also very intelligent.are macaws the most intelligent parrots?

They Have Good Personality

Their personalities are something you really have to familiarize yourself with before choosing to adopt one of these lovely creatures into your home.

Sure, you have read about the stuff you need, but are you ready for the sheer amount of noise this animal will make?

How about the fact that they are some of the most affectionate birds once they get to know you? Plus, one article out of Texas A&M indicates that they may be sensitive to human emotion.

Macaw Enjoy Their Training

The Macaw must be taught to speak some words and will wholly enjoy being trained by their owner. African Greys are like this too-they love to train and treasure the interaction with their owners.

Like African Greys, the macaw speaks well, but the Grey has better mimicry ability. Also, anecdotes on the Internet lead us to believe the Grey is a bit more intelligent thanks to their use of words in the appropriate context.

One Grey owner on the Quora website wrote about her African Grey saying the phrases ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Good Night’ during cage-opening time and cage-cover times, respectively.

Meanwhile, the same owner who owned a macaw stated that he would do flock calls at morning and night hours, which displays instinctual behavior instead of appropriate words and phrasing.

Summing It Up

Our quick research reveals that African Greys appear to be smarter as they have better mimicry and word usage abilities. That being said, it is a close race.

Macaws are still capable of using and saying words and copying various sounds they hear around the house.  At the end of the day, however, African Greys appear to have an easier time doing this.

Related Questions

How Intelligent are macaws?

Macaws are intelligent and social creatures that gather in flocks of 10 to 30 birds. They use their loud voices in smart ways: They call, squawk and scream very loud as a means of attracting the flock, mark their territory, and finding one another. They are capable of mimicking human words.

Which parrot is the most intelligent?

First is the African Grey, followed by macaws and cockatoos, then budgies, after that conures, parakeets, Quakers, and lovebirds, and finally canaries, bantam chickens and finches.

Why Are African Greys so Expensive?

Due to poaching and habitat loss that the African Grey is facing, these animals are becoming rarer and rarer to find in the wild which is why it is so high in cost -as well as difficult- to obtain legal rights to own one of these birds.

Why do African Greys bob their heads?

This indicates a bird is anxious to go someplace, or they could be regurgitating as a means of bonding with you. Parrots of a very young age bob their heads a lot, especially Quaker parrots when they are happy.

In Conclusion

We cannot stress enough how very smart these two animals are. Both have amazing natural gifts in that they are smart, able to use their beaks and feet to get whatever they want, and really bond with their owners.

However, it appears the African Grey learns faster, leading us to conclude that it is, in fact, smarter than the macaw.

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