Cockatiel vs Cockatoo – Difference in Appearance, Personality & Cost

When it comes to cockatiel vs cockatoo, there are a few key differences that you need to be aware of.

Both parrots make great pets, but they have different personalities and costs associated with them.

In this blog post, we will discuss the difference between cockatiels and cockatoos in terms of size and weight, appearance, life span, noise level, talking ability, intelligence, personality, and cost.

We will help you decide which bird is right for you!

Are cockatiels a member of the cockatoo family?

The answer may surprise you, cockatiels are actually a member of the cockatoo family. They are both parrot species.

Cockatiels are classified as parrots, which belong to the order Psittaciformes. Within this order, cockatiels are part of the family Cacatuidae (cockatoos) and they are the only species of the genus Nymphicus.

  • Order: Psittaciformes (parrots)
  • Genus: Nymphicus
  • Family: Cacatuidae (cockatoos)
  • Species: Nymphicus hollandicus (cockatiels)
Cockatoo vs. Cockatiel | Pet Brid

What are the differences between a Cockatiel and a Cockatoo?

The following infographic summarizes 7 differences between a cockatiel and a cockatoo, which include:-

  1. Appearance
  2. Size and weight
  3. Life span
  4. Noise level
  5. Intelligence
  6. Talking ability
  7. Popularity
infographic: cockatiel vs cockatoo - 7 differences

What is a cockatiel and what do they look like?

A cockatiel is a member of the cockatoo family, which includes some of the most iconic and well-loved birds in the world. 

Cockatiels and cockatoos have differences in appearance.

Cockatiels are small to medium-sized birds, and they are known for their long tails and crests. 

cockatiel vs cockatoo - cockatiel looks like

Cockatiels are native to Australia, where their natural habitats are in dry scrublands and open woodlands.

They come in a variety of colors, but the most popular color is yellow.

Cockatiels are very social birds, and they love to groom themselves and each other.

They are also very vocal, and they can mimic human speech quite well. Cockatiels make great pets, and they bonded quickly with their owners.

In the wild, they travel in pairs or small flocks and eat seeds, fruits, and insects. They nest in hollow tree stumps or holes in cliffs.

Cockatiels were first brought to Europe in the late 17th century and quickly became popular pets.

Listen to what this brilliant talking cockatiel can say

If you’re looking for a fun-loving and affectionate bird, then a cockatiel is definitely the right choice!

You may also like: Are Cockatiels Loud?

What is a cockatoo and what do they look like?

Let’s examine the physical appearance of cockatoos first.

A cockatoo is a medium to large parrot that is found in the rainforest and woodland regions of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.

Cockatoos are typically white or light-colored and have crests on their heads. They are recognizable by their long feathers and curved beaks. However, cockatoos have larger body sizes and shorter tails as compared with cockatiels.

cockatoo vs cockatiel - cockatoo looks like

Cockatoos are renowned for their intelligence and capacity for speech, as well as their playful personality. Cockatoos make excellent pets and can be taught to do tricks.

Some species of cockatoos can be quite large, measuring up to 2 feet in length.

Cockatoos live around 20-25 years in the wild and can live for up to 60 years in captivity.

Cockatoos are loud. This is especially true in the early hours of the day and at twilight when they would naturally call out in the wild.

The things he says are hilarious! LOL | (Talking Cockatoo)

If you’re looking for a talking parrot that can be trained to do tricks, then a cockatoo is definitely the right choice!

Cockatiel vs cockatoo – Size and weight

A cockatiel typically weighs between 2 and 4 ounces, with a size of around 12 to 13 inches.

In comparison, a cockatoo typically weighs between 0.5 and 2.5 pounds, with a size of around 12 to 24 inches.

As you can see, there is quite a difference in size and weight between these two bird species!

Cockatiels are generally smaller and lighter than cockatoos.

However, there is some variation within each species – for example, some cockatiels may be larger or smaller than others, and some cockatoos may be heavier or lighter than others.

But on average, this is how they tend to differ in size and weight.

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Cockatiel vs cockatoo – Lifespan

Cockatiels and cockatoos both have a long lifespan. The average cockatoo’s lifespan is 20 to 40 years. Cockatiels have a lesser life span of 10 to 15 years.

However, there are many factors that can affect a bird’s lifespan, such as diet, genetics, health care, and environment.

For example, a healthy cockatiel that receives proper nutrition and plenty of exercises can live up to 15 years, while a Cockatoo that is not well cared for may only live less than 20 years.

It is important to note that the lifespan of a captive bird is often significantly shorter than that of a wild bird.

This is due to the fact that captive birds are typically not exposed to the same variety of food and supplements as their wild counterparts.

In addition, they may be subject to more stressors in their environment, such as loud noises or lack of social interaction.

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The diet of a cockatiel and a cockatoo are quite different.

A cockatiel’s diet consists mostly of seeds, fruits, vegetables, and a small number of pellets.

A cockatoo’s diet consists mostly of pellets and a small number of seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

The reason for the difference in diet is that cockatiels are smaller birds than cockatoos.

A smaller bird does not need as much food as a larger bird.

So a cockatiel gets most of its nutrition from seeds while a cockatoo gets most of its nutrition from pellets.

Cockatiels should have a diet that is 15-20% seed, 25-35% vegetables, 25-35% fruit, and 10-15% pellets. Cockatoos should have a diet that is 30-50% fruit, 20-40% vegetables, and 10-30% pellets.

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Cage Requirements

The cage size should be big enough to allow the bird to move around freely.

Cockatoos are larger in size, so they need a bigger cage. Remember to put plenty of toys in the cage.

Although cockatiels are smaller in size, they are active to move around in the cage. So, a bigger cage is also preferable so that they can fly from one corner to another.

Cockatoos are more social than cockatiels. They love human interaction. However, both species should be provided with ample space to exercise their wings. Let them come out of the cage and fly around the house regularly.

Noise level

The noise level of a cockatiel is typically around 60-80 dB, while the noise level of a cockatoo is typically around 85-95 dB.

This means that the noise level of a cockatiel is about 10-15 dB quieter than the noise level of a cockatoo.

cockatiel vs cockatoo - noise level

60-80 dB is equivalent to the noise level of a diesel truck and 85-95 dB is equivalent to the noise level of a chainsaw. So, they are both quite loud.

This is loud enough that it may disturb people nearby, so it is important to take this into account if you’re considering getting one of these birds as a pet.


Both cockatiels and cockatoos are considered intelligent birds. Cockatiels are believed to be on the lower end of the intelligence scale, while cockatoos are thought to be more intelligent.

cockatiel vs cockatoo - intelligence

Cockatiels are known to have the ability to count, and they can also be taught simple tricks.

Cockatoos are even smarter and can learn more complicated tasks. Some people have even taught them how to use tools.

Overall, both of them are smart birds. Cockatiels can be taught to do simple tricks, while cockatoos can learn complex tasks.

Talking ability

A cockatiel can mimic some human speech, but their abilities are generally more limited compared to a cockatoo.

A cockatoo, on the other hand, is capable of making a wide variety of sounds and noises, including some actual words and phrases.

cockatiel vs cockatoo - talking ability

So if you’re looking for a talkative pet bird, a cockatoo would be your best bet.

Personality and behavior

Cockatiels are generally considered the more gentle and timid of the two species.

They are also much quieter, making less noise than cockatoos.

cockatiel vs cockatoo - noise level

Cockatiels usually do not startle as easily as cockatoos and are not as destructive.

Cockatoos tend to be more adventurous and curious than cockatiels.

They are also louder and have a higher-pitched screeching call that can be quite startling.

Cockatoos are more prone to biting than cockatiels, especially when they feel threatened or when they want to get their way.


Cockatiels are the most popular pet bird in America because of their small size and playful personality.

Larger cockatoos, on the other hand, are less popular because of their constant need for attention and their loud noises.

Cost and care

There are two major costs related to keeping a cockatiel or a cockatoo – the cost of buying and the cost of caring for a cockatiel or a cockatoo.

cockatiel vs cockatoo - cost and care

Here are some things to consider: 

Cockatiel vs cockatoo – Price

The cost of a cockatiel typically ranges from $70 to $150, while the cost of a cockatoo typically ranges from $500 to $1,200.

There are many variables that can affect the price of a bird, such as its age, color, and breed.

The cost of buying a bird from a breeder is usually higher than the cost of adopting one from a rescue organization or shelter.

Cockatiel vs cockatoo – Maintenance cost

Cockatiels are fairly low-maintenance birds compared to other pet birds.

They generally only need a few things to keep them healthy and happy. A good-sized cage (24”x24”x36” is ideal), clean water and fresh food daily, plenty of toys and perches, and regular nail/beak trims.

Cockatiels also love human interaction and attention, so spending time with your bird is important!

Overall, you can expect to spend around $40-$50 per month on basic care for your cockatiel.

On the other hand, the maintenance costs of cockatoos are generally higher than cockatiels.

This is because they are larger birds and require a bigger cage (at least 36”x36”x48”), as well as more food.

They also need more toys and enrichment activities to keep them from getting bored, since they are very active and intelligent birds.

Cockatoos also require more frequent nail/beak trims.

So, you can expect to spend around $70-$80 per month on basic care for your cockatoo.

Can a cockatiel and a cockatoo get along well together in the same home?

Yes, a cockatiel and a cockatoo can live together peacefully in the same home.

Both birds are social creatures and enjoy being around others, so they will likely get along well with each other.

The key to keeping them both happy is to provide enough space for them to coexist comfortably and to give each bird plenty of attention so that they feel loved and valued.

With a little patience and effort, you can have a harmonious home with both a cockatiel and a cockatoo!

Cockatoo vs cockatiel: which is best for you?

The answer depends on what kind of bird you want. If you like small birds, then cockatiels are better. However, if you prefer big birds, then cockatoos are better. Both types of birds are great pets, although they require different care.

Cockatiels are cheaper than cockatoos. In addition, the maintenance costs, including cages and food,  are also lower.

If you are living in an apartment, cockatoos may not be a good choice because they make loud sounds that may annoy your neighbors. The consideration is more than just price and maintenance costs.

Another consideration is that cockatoos require more attention than cockatiels. If you are not able to spare time to play with your pet bird, it is better to choose a cockatiel. 

Finally, cockatoos are very intelligent parrots, they can mimic human languages and household sounds, and they are easier to learn tricks. Their intelligence levels of cockatoos appeal to many bird owners.

Whether you choose a cockatoo or a cockatiel, both are good pets and affectionate birds.


Cockatiels vs cockatoos – Which one is right for you?

Now that you know the difference between cockatiels and cockatoos, it’s time to decide which one is right for you! 

Do you want a smaller bird with a less demanding personality? Then a cockatiel might be a good choice.

Do you want a larger, more talkative bird that can learn tricks? Then a cockatoo might be the better option.

Think about what you’re looking for in a pet bird and make your decision based on that.

Both cockatiels and cockatoos make great pets, so it really comes down to personal preference.

We hope this article has helped you learn a little more about these two beautiful bird species and made it easier for you to decide which one is right for you! Thank you for reading.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cockatoos good pets?

Yes, cockatoos are good pets. They’re intelligent, friendly, curious, playful, and very social.

Are cockatiels good pets?

Yes, cockatiels are good pets. They love to interact with people, are easy to care for, and are relatively low maintenance.

Can cockatoos be left alone?

No, cockatoos cannot be left alone. They require constant supervision and interaction.

Can cockatiels be left alone?

Yes, cockatiels can be left alone. They do not require as much supervision as cockatoos, but they still need some human contact.

Do pet cockatoos know their owners?

Yes, pet cockatoos remember their owners. They recognize them by name and may greet them when they return home from work.

Do pet cockatiels know their owners?

Yes, cockatiels definitely recognize their owners. They normally form deep bonds with their owners. They recognize the face and voices of their owners.