Is a cockatiel a parrot, a budgie, a cockatoo, a parakeet, or something completely different from all these? If you are hunting for information on a new pet bird, I will help you out below.
Talkative and social birds can often be great company in homes without the hassle that larger animals like dogs bring.
Cockatiels are a type of parrot and a very common pet in households worldwide.
They are social and low-maintenance birds. They are not aggressive and quickly get used to petting and hand-feeding.
You can feed them fresh food like grains, grass seeds, nuts, and sweet potatoes paired with a dish of fresh water.
Cockatiels can stay in large groups. But if kept in fewer numbers, we should get ample human interaction.
Are Cockatiels Parrots?
The short answer to this is yes. Cockatiels are a type of parrot. But the longer answer has many caveats.
If you’re assuming parrots to be green birds with bright, red beaks – think again.
“Parrot” is an order of birds, also known as Psittaciformes. This order contains 398 species of birds from different genera.
Cockatiels are a type of parrot that belong to their own separate branch under the cockatoo family.
There was much debate regarding the exact genus and family they belong to since they look very similar to parakeets.
However, with recent molecular studies, we now know that they belong to the genus Nymphicus hollandicus and are the only bird under this genus.
All parrots have some common characteristics. These are – a similar diet of nuts, fresh fruits, and grains, a curved beak, feet with four toes, and a habitat of warm climate.
Cockatiels can be yellow, grey, white, or a combination of these. Along with their body color, they have two patches of orange on their cheeks, with pinkish beaks and feet.
Currently, at least 18 different color mutations exist. However, in captivity, breeders have successfully produced more color combinations.
There are several common pet birds in the parrot family, and below I will try to explain how cockatiels are different from all of them.
Cockatiel vs Parakeet
There are many visual cues that you can use to distinguish between a cockatiel and a parakeet. Such as:
- Their head – Cockatiels are known for having a crest on the top of their head, which they can lower or open depending on their mood. Parakeets do not have a crest.
- Their color – Cockatiels are limited to only a few colors such as yellow, white, and grey – or a combination of these. Parakeets, on the other hand, are much more colorful. They can be blue, green, grey, white, yellow, black, or a combination of all these.
- Their size – Cockatiels can grow up to 12.9 inches in length. There are only one single species. But parakeet is a common term that refers to small to medium-sized parrots. Budgerigars are as tiny as 7 inches. Monk parakeets can be up to 12 inches long.
Cockatoo vs Cockatiel
Visually, both birds have a similar appearance, with a curved beak and a crest on top of their head.
They feed on grains, nuts, fresh vegetables, and fruits. However, they are vastly different in terms of size.
Cockatoos can grow up to 24 inches. They are double the size of cockatiels and are much stockier in appearance.
Their feet are grayish-black in color. Cockatiels are much smaller and have pink or flesh-colored feet.
Vocally, cockatoos can mimic human voices and can produce a wider range of sounds. Cockatiels cannot mimic and can only produce whistling sounds of various degrees.
Are Cockatiels and Cockatoos Related?
Yes, cockatoos and cockatiels are related. Both of them belong to the family of Cacatuidae. Cockatiels are even commonly known as ‘small cockatoos.’
In fact, cockatiels are simply a type of species belonging to the Cockatoo or Cacatuidae order.
You should know that Cockatoo or Cacatuidae is a scientific parrot family name that has 21 species.
However, in lay terms, people often use the term cockatoo to refer to a singular large bird with a crest.
However, cockatoos show a much wider color range than cockatiels.
They can have shades of grey, black, red, yellow, salmon, and white. On the other hand, black cockatiels do not exist at all.
Conure vs Cockatiel
Conures refer to many small-to-medium-sized parrots with long tails. Since there are many types of conures, here’s how you can distinguish them from cockatiels:
- Their head – Unlike a cockatiel, a conure does not have a crest at the top of its head.
- Their tails – cockatiels have long, pointed tail feathers with only two or three feathers at the end. Conures have a comparatively shorter tail that is well-rounded at the end.
- Their beak – Cockatiels have a small, pinkish beak with a pink tongue. Conures have larger beaks in comparison to their head and it is black in color. They have a black tongue as well.
- Their size – A full-grown conure is slightly larger than a fully-grown cockatiel, irrespective of the species.
- Their color – Conures are much more bright and more colorful. They can be yellow, green, orange, red, sea green, salmon, or a combination of these.
Cockatiel vs Budgie
As we saw before, budgies or budgerigars are a type of parakeet. You can differentiate between budgies and cockatiels by:
- Their sound – All parakeets, including budgies, have a high-pitched sound and cannot whistle. Cockatiels can whistle.
- Their lifespan – Budgies can live for up to 15 years. Wild cockatiels, on the other hand, can survive for up to 30 years if given the right conditions!
- Their beaks – Budgies have a raised nose structure that is a different color from their beak. Cockatiels do not have raised noses.
Cockatiel vs Lovebird
Lovebirds are small, energetic parrots that come in a variety of colors. Spot the differences between lovebirds and cockatiels with these features:
- Their beaks – with their varied body colors, lovebirds also have a multitude of beak colors! Their beaks can be pink, red, yellowish-tan, or orange. Moreover, their beaks are much larger in comparison to their head size than a cockatiel’s.
- Their colors – Lovebirds can be white, blue, red, green, purple, yellow, and a combination of these.
- Their voice – Lovebirds are limited vocally and can produce high pitch notes. They cannot whistle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a cockatiel parrot talk?
Cockatiels cannot talk or mimic human voices as smoothly as some of the larger parrots like cockatoos or Alexandrian and rosella parrots.
However, they can whistle in different pitches and produce a mimicry of the tone rather than the exact words used.
Is a budgie a parrot?
Budgies are a type of parakeet, which in turn belong to the parrot family of birds.
They are commonly sold as ‘parakeets’ in pet shops and are very popular, beginner-friendly pet birds for first-time bird owners.
Budgies are social birds and thrive in groups.
Do cockatiels recognize you?
Cockatiels are a highly social species. They can recognize people and form special bonds, especially with their owners.
As pets, they require significant time out of the cage, as well as regular interaction with people or other birds to not get depressed.
Do cockatiel birds cry?
Cockatiels sometimes produce a harsh, high-pitched sound. This sound is usually a combination of a scream and a whistle.
This sound indicates that the bird is upset, anxious, or scared and could be a cry for help. Cockatiels cannot produce tears like humans.
If you’re planning on keeping a pet bird, those from the parrot are a great option. They are much smarter than other birds, can mimic voices, and sing songs.
Smaller parrots like cockatiels and parakeets are ideal for beginners.
Make sure to add a varied diet of grass seeds, grains, soft food and a water dish every day – along with regular cleaning of the food dishes and cage. It’s best for pet birds to have some out-of-cage socializing time with their owners.
Thank you for reading!