Cockatoo vs Cockatiel: The Ultimate Selection Guide

Cockatoo vs Cockatiel, which do you choose?

Nature has always been great and offers us everything that can attract our attention, for those who love animals especially birds will certainly have noticed the incredible beauty shown by all parrots, their colors and their funny curiosity they have been able to win the hearts of many fans like us.

Cockatoo and Cockatiel, are among the two species of birds and parrots, perhaps among the best known and adopted by many around the world. Obviously, who can afford it, because they both need an excellent space and precious time to devote to them.

But which of the two to choose? If I could, I took both, it would be wonderful if instead, I should choose one I would certainly consider the cockatiel, which is perhaps a little easier to manage, with fewer problems than the cockatoo. Mind you, it always depends on ourselves or what we are willing to do for them.

The main advice is not to take only one, but always a couple, perhaps with other birds; both need a lot of company, both human and other birds.

What is the difference between cockatoo and cockatiel? How and which to choose?

Don’t forget that a cockatiel is a cockatoo, while a cockatoo isn’t always a cockatiel.

About Cockatoo

A large and beautiful parrot native to Australia and surrounding islands including the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.

The cockatoo includes over twenty species, all with one main feature: a particular erectile crest positioned on the head, extremely attractive, both mobile and hard, often an excellent tool for attracting sexual partners, these birds are relatively larger than common parrots.


The plumage can be of various colors, the most common is white, but gray is also widespread, these colors are generally combined with black and many other colors in many parts of the body, creating a very fascinating and suggestive whole.

They have short legs with strong claws, wide wingspan, slender but stocky, medium to large bodies with body weights ranging from 300 to 1200 grams, and their body length varies from 30 to 60 centimeters.

Cockatoos are mainly diurnal, and their food must be nutritious and varied based on a mix of seeds, ideal for lunch to keep them fit and healthy. Sunflower seeds should be avoided because cockatoos have a tendency to gain weight; nuts, seasonal fruit, and vegetables are also good and fully appreciated by them.

The male whistle and the female screech and despite their harsh vocalizations, it sometimes happens to hear them speak or mimic the human voice.

The long life span of cockatoos is positively correlated with both food quality and life.

About Cockatiel

pair of cockatiel

The cockatiel is one of the 21 cockatoo species; it’s endemic to the Australian mainland.

They have small bodies of around 30-33 centimeters and weigh an average of around 300 grams.

They are usually colored with more attractive males than females.

Both sexes possess crests, but males have a colorful and attractive one compared to the grayish, non-prominent female crest.

They have a characteristic orange patch on their cheeks. In their natural habitat, they prefer to live around water and usually don’t live in one place. These cute smart creatures are known to be nomadic but never move away from the Australian mainland.

They live in pairs in small flocks and their lifespan is around 15-20 years.

You may be interested in some cockatiel facts, read all of them here:

Cockatoo vs Cockatiel: Dimensions and Lifespan

Cockatoos can live up to 100 years while Cockatiels tend to live around 15 years, although some live longer reaching 25 years of age, while cockatoos hardly live less than 60 years.

Cockatoos vary in size from each other, depending on the species, too, but most are around 20 inches in length, which is nearly double the 10 to 13-inch length of a cockatiel.

The cockatiel’s beak is shaped like that of a parrot but is a small fraction of the size of a cockatoo’s powerful beak.

Cockatoo vs Cockatiel: Colors and Variations

Most cockatoos boast single-colored feathers, usually white or black, although some have better colors than others such as pink, red, or yellow.

major mitchell's cockatoo

Male black cockatoos have black beaks, while female black cockatoos have light-colored beaks.

In adult specimens, the color of the iris varies between genera, with dark brown or black irises indicating a male bird and red-brown or burgundy ones typical of mature females.

The cockatiel in nature is mostly gray, with a yellow face and orange cheeks; there are variants and mutations, some vary in gray plumage, others lack red cheeks.

In cockatiels, the genus reveals itself in the color of the plumage, with males boasting bright orange cheek pads and yellow crests and females displaying duller cheek pads and gray crests. Male Cockatiels also sing more often and behave more aggressively than quieter females.

Cockatoo vs Cockatiel: Behavior

The cockatiel is known to have a calmer and more peaceful temperament than the strong and socially demanding cockatoo.

The cockatoo loves to explore and requires constant interaction with people or other birds and a large cage. If bored and not enough stimulated they can develop many problems that are difficult to solve.

Children and cockatoos don’t have to be alone with each other, as the cockatoo can cause injury to them with its powerful beak.

Just like cockatoos, the cockatiels are also sociable when tamed and can utter few words, although they prefer to mimic non-verbal sounds, such as whistles and melodies. Unlike the cockatoos, the cockatiels can be left alone for short periods of time, and they tolerate a smaller, but equally wide and spacious cage.

Cockatoo: The Pros and Cons

A very charming and popular pet bird, with an affectionate and docile character, but which requires a lot of care and a discreet presence.

It’s necessary to give them a lot of time and specific attention. Precisely for this reason, breeders usually advise against its adoption for people who spend many hours away from home for work or for any other reason.

Many cockatoos are particularly prone to exhibit behavioral problems, such as self-deplumation, and therefore require active surveillance.

Cockatoos have the ability to generate a lot of dust from feathers: a natural and frequent behavior to keep the plumage soft and silky.

Before buying a cockatoo, remember that it’s certainly not the quietest bird in nature. But there is also one species of cockatoo that is known to be quieter among its kind, namely the Citron Cockatoo.

These types of parrots are able to sing very loud and therefore the neighbors may be annoyed.

Don’t forget they’re particularly long-lived animals, which can live over 60 years, thus accompanying their owners throughout their lives.

Despite everything, they are excellent companions, rather intelligent and lively, who love the presence of people; some of them can be “taught” to learn to “talk” or dance to the rhythm of the music.

Its cage and its aviary must be of adequate size, resistant and well-built, of steel or material capable of lasting over time, although the cockatoo tends to wear it down; possibly in a non-isolated place: the ideal place to keep both cage and aviary is a place very frequented by people, the owner or others, in order to satisfy his continuous need for affection.

They are very intelligent birds, so they can easily learn to open gates and locks, some of them even learn to unscrew bolts.

It’s also recommending not to keep them in the cage for too long, but to keep them out for as long as possible.

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Cockatiel: Pros and Cons

Nice, affectionate, very intelligent, they love whistling and singing, playing and also enjoy looking themselves in front of the mirror.

It’s easy to breed this bird even at home and in an apartment: it adapts to the situation, doesn’t get easily sick, doesn’t bother, and doesn’t create problems.

These budgies don’t require special care, as they especially need to play and not get bored.

Males and females have slightly different needs.

While the males often love to play all the time, the females are more reserved and take care of finding a quiet corner where they can isolate themselves and build the nest or go around the house in search of reserved spaces.

They both love to jump to the ground.

cockatiel on a perch

When keeping these budgies in cages, you should take care to provide a large space for them so that they feel free to play without bumping into perches, bowls, or other objects. The best thing would be to leave the cage door open so that they can go out and enter freely.

Females of this breed can suffer from a lack of minerals and calcium, especially during the period in which they lay their eggs, but everything is resolved with food supplementation and the administration of cuttlefish bones. In general, these budgies are not in poor health, just keep them in a quiet and clean environment.

Which One to Choose Between Cockatoo vs Cockatiel?

Well if you are a lover of these birds you can safely choose both, the important thing is to never forget the care and attention that will certainly be bigger if you decide to adopt a cockatoo instead of the cockatiel.

cockatoo and cockatiel

Both extraordinarily beautiful and charming, as well as being perfectly sociable, friendly, playful, and curious.

The cockatiel is “slightly less” easy to take care of, and then let’s face it, can you have a pet that will most likely live over 60 years?

Sure, it’s a commitment but if your love is great and sincere, then you will be successful without any difficulty.

However, perhaps the best option is the cockatiel, even if it requires special attention and company, surely a little less than the cockatoo.

There are many reasons that can lead to choosing a cockatiel as a pet on this cockatoo vs cockatiel selection:

  1. They are small, easy to maintain, and they’re not too many difficulties in taming them;
  2. They’re mild enough and quiet and less noisy than other parrot breeds to make them perfect pets;
  3. Likewise, they’re quite healthy birds and hardly get sick;
  4. If well cared for, they can reach 20 years of life and even over;
  5. They are inexpensive compared to the costs of other types of parrots;
  6. They develop a wonderful, loving, and friendly bond with their owner;
  7. Most cockatiels, especially males, can be taught to whistle songs.

Is all that glitters gold? Let’s face it, there are also reasons why a cockatiel shouldn’t be adopted, but of course, it’s up to you. So many options can be disadvantageous for me, but not for many people.

  1. Although they are small pets, they require the purchase of a large enough cage;
  2. They need to spend time out of the cage and especially to interact with their owner. If you don’t have enough time to dedicate to it, it would be best not to take one with you at home;
  3. They can learn to whistle the songs, but they will hardly speak;
  4. If you already have another pet, you should never leave it alone with it. They can only be together under the supervision of one of the family members;
  5. You must evaluate the initial costs, the purchase of the cage, accessories, and any veterinary care that will certainly increase the money to spend;
  6. They are messy birds, if you’re a real fan of order and cleanliness, these parrots will give you a real hard time;
  7. They are animals that reproduce easily enough, they’re able to lay eggs even without the presence of a male with whom to mate.

On the other hand, the cockatoo always needs a lot of company, surely much more than the cockatiel, which knows how to be more dependent and adapt to different situations.

The cockatoo is larger and therefore will definitely affect the size of the cage and aviary.

It is a problematic animal if you suffer from particular allergies.


It’s not a simple thing to choose between these two wonders; in principle, they are very similar in care and attention, a slightly different character but not too much; the cockatiel is much more resistant to diseases, and it seems that it can get sick very rarely, as for the cockatoo you must be more careful.

In short, if I have to choose one between cockatoo vs cockatiel, I choose the cockatiel and you?

If you want more suggested considerations in choosing a pet bird you can read the following articles:

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