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Cockatiel Vs. Cockatoo: Identification, Differences, Similarities

Cockatiel Vs Cockatoo

The cockatiel is a species of the cockatoo or Cacatuidae family, which comprises 21 species. So, in other words, cockatiels are actually cockatoos. Now, you might wonder, are there any cockatiel vs. cockatoo differences or more similarities?

Yes. The cockatiel differs from the cockatoo in size, weight, and cage size. Both pet birds are also different in terms of the number of eggs they lay per clutch, color variations, lifespan, and price. Regarding similarities, the birds boast the same diet, behavior, beak shape, and crest.

So then, should you get a cockatiel or a cockatoo? Please read our detailed guide on the cockatiel and cockatoo differences and similarities before making your choice.

What Are The Cockatiel vs. Cockatoo Differences?

The best way to identify a cockatiel and a cockatoo is through their fundamental differences. Check out the table below to understand how these two parrot species differ from each other.

What Are The Cockatiel vs. Cockatoo Differences
OriginAustraliaAustralia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands
Length12 to 14 inches12 to 24 inches
Weight2.5 to 4.5 ounces10 to 30 ounces
Wingspan10 to 14 inches28 to 39 inches
Minimum Cage Size24x18x24 inches36x24x40 inches
AppearanceGray with some orange patches on the cheek, yellow face, and crestMainly black, white, and gray with pink, red, or yellow splotches on the crest or tail
Lifespan16 to 25 years in captivity20 to 40 years in captivity
10 to 15 years in the wild40 to 70 years in the wild
Cost$80 to $250$600 to $16,000
Number of Eggs Per Clutch4 to 62 to 3

Now, let’s look at all these differences between cockatiels and cockatoos in detail.

1. Origin

Cockatiels are native only to Australia. You will find them mainly in the arid and semi-arid regions of the country. However, cockatoos originate from various areas apart from Australia. 

For example, they are native to New Zealand, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Indonesia. Australia is only home to 14 of 21 species, including the Sulphur-crested cockatoo.

2. Length, Wingspan, and Weight

A cockatiel is a small bird measuring between 12 and 14 inches from the beak to the tail. Meanwhile, the wingspan is 10 to 14 inches across, while its weight is around 2.5 and 4.5 ounces. However, the bird has an average weight of 3.2 ounces or 90 grams.


Unlike the cockatiel, a cockatoo is medium to large in size. This bird measures 12 to 24 inches from the beak to the tail. It has a wingspan of between 28 and 39 inches. The cockatoo is also heavier than the cockatiel at 10 to 30 ounces.

3. Cage Size

Because of the cockatiel’s small size, the minimum cage size for a single bird is 24 by 18 by 24 inches (L, D, H). But the more substantial the cage, the better. As for the cockatoo, the minimum cage size for one bird should be 36 by 24 by 40 inches (L, D, H). This is because it is larger and with a more enormous wingspan than the cockatiel. 

What Are The Cockatiel vs. Cockatoo Differences

4. Appearance and Color

Cockatiels have smaller beaks than cockatoos due to their small size. However, compared to the cockatoos, they have longer tail feathers that makeup approximately half of their total length.

See also:  How to Comfort a Dying Cockatiel? Here’s What to Do

Both birds have many color variations. However, a cockatiel is mostly a gray bird with an orange cheek patch and yellow face. This pet bird also has a long gray and yellow crest and gray wings with some white patches.

On the other hand, cockatoos are mainly black, white, or gray in color. Most species also boast red, yellow, and pink splotches on their tail or crest. So overall, cockatiels are more colorful in appearance than cockatoos. 

5. Lifespan

A cockatiel can live for 16 to 25 years or more in captivity and 10 to 15 years in the wild. This depends on how well you take care of your pet bird.

Cockatoo Lifespan

On the other hand, the average lifespan of a cockatoo in the wild is 20 to 40 years. In captivity, a cockatoo may live for 40 to 70 years. 

6. Noise Level

Although both pet birds are loud, the cockatiel is not as noisy as the cockatoo. When making contact calls, the cockatiel noise level can get up to 80 decibels. On the other hand, the cockatoo’s noise level can reach up to 135 decibels, making this bird the loudest. 

7. Price

Of the two parrot species, the cockatiel is the cheaper one. You can expect to pay between $80 and $250 for a cockatiel based on the bird’s mutation, age, breed, and health.


Meanwhile, the price of a cockatoo ranges between $600 to $4,000. This depends on how well-trained the bird is, its species, breeder, age, and color. However, rare cockatoo species like the Palm Cockatoo may cost up to $16,000.

8. Number of Eggs Per Clutch

Cockatiels can lay 1 to 2 clutches of eggs every year. Each clutch may contain 4 to 6 eggs and sometimes up to 8. 

As for cockatoos, these pet birds lay two clutches a year. However, each clutch contains an average of 2 to 3 eggs depending on the breed. For example, the red-tailed black cockatoo lays clutches of one egg only. So, the cockatiel lays more eggs than the cockatoo. 

Cockatiel Number of Eggs Per Clutch

Cockatiels vs. Cockatoo, Any Similarities?

Although there are several cockatiel vs. cockatoo differences, these two pet birds are also similar in many ways. These include:

Cockatiels vs. Cockatoo

1. Behavior

Both the cockatiel and cockatoo are very affectionate birds. Also, they like communicating through their body language and different sounds. 

See also:  Cockatiel Poop Chart: A Beginner-Friendly Guide To Get Started

The birds can make sounds such as hissing, chirping, screeching, whistling, and singing. In addition, both birds may engage in destructive behavior when bored or depressed, like feather plucking in self-mutilation.

2. Family

A cockatoo belongs to the family Cacatuidae. Meanwhile, the cockatiel is a parrot species belonging to the cockatoo family or Cacatuidae.

Cockatiels Family

3. Diet

Both birds will eat various seeds, pellets, leafy greens, fresh fruits, and vegetables. They also eat nuts, flowers, and legumes.

4. Curved Beak

The beak of a cockatiel and cockatoo is relatively big with more depth. It is also highly curved, allowing both birds to climb perches, trees, and cages easily.

Cockatoo Curved Beak

5. Threats

The main threat to cockatiels and cockatoos is the birds of prey, including eagles, hawks, falcons, and goshawks. Owls and crows are also a threat to these pet birds.

6. Crest

Cockatiels and cockatiels are easily recognizable by their crests. The crest may remain raised or lowered depending on their mood. 

cockatiels crest

7. Ease of Training

Both parrot species are brilliant, making them receptive to training. You can teach them various tricks. The birds can also learn to be tame.

Can a Cockatiel and Cockatoo Live Together?

Yes, but not in the same cage, and for good reasons. To start with, the cockatoo is more prominent in size than the cockatiel. Therefore, in a fight, the cockatiel would easily get injured.

Another reason the two pet birds cannot live together is that cockatoos are very territorial, especially males. As such, they may respond aggressively to cockatiels if they feel their space is being invaded. 

Can a Cockatiel and Cockatoo Live Together

Which One Should You Choose, The Cockatiel Or Cockatoo?

Cockatiels are the preferred option. This is because they are gentler and more docile than the cockatoos. On top of that, they love to be petted and held.

The best part about cockatiels is their small size. As such, these pet birds can fit in compact homes and apartments compared to cockatoos. And compared to cockatoos, cockatiels make excellent beginner pets and are more affordable. 

Which One Should You Choose, The Cockatiel Or Cockatoo


Below, we will respond to some commonly asked questions about cockatiel vs. cockatoo. Check them out.

Q: Which is easier to care for, cockatiel or cockatoo?

It is a cockatiel because of its small size and calm personality. The bird is also relatively inexpensive to maintain since it does not need a bigger-sized cage like cockatoos.

Q: Are cockatiels better at talking than cockatoos?

No. Although both of these birds can talk when trained, cockatoos are better at mimicking what they hear than cockatiels. This explains why they are so loud.

Q: Do cockatiels and cockatoos like to cuddle?

No. Only the cockatoos are cuddly. Cockatoos will snuggle up to your chest whenever they get the chance. Cockatiels are not cuddly, although they are affectionate. 

Bottom Line

While the cockatiel and cockatoo are similar in many ways, they also have differences. This makes it easy to identify the two birds. For instance, the cockatiel is small in size, relatively lightweight, and with a smaller wingspan than the cockatoo.

That said, the cockatiel is the best beginner-friendly bird of the two parrots, especially if you are on a budget. It is inexpensive, easy to care for, and does not need a big cage like the cockatoo. 


Peter Kaestner

Hi there, my name is Peter Kaestner and I am the owner of As a avid bird watcher and enthusiast with a passion for ornithology, I want to share my knowledge and experience with other bird lovers through this blog. As someone who regularly participates in bird-related forums and groups online, I am dedicated to helping others learn more about these amazing creatures. However, it's important to note that while I am happy to share my expertise and advice, it is always crucial to consult with an avian veterinarian before making any decisions that could potentially impact your bird's health or well-being. Your bird's health and happiness should always be your top priority, and consulting with a professional is the best way to ensure that you are making informed decisions on their behalf. I hope that through my blog, I can help make a positive difference in the lives of birds and the people who care for them. Whether you are an experienced bird owner or just starting out, I encourage you to use this resource as a way to learn more about these fascinating animals and how to provide them with the best possible care.View Author posts