How to Tell a Cockatoo from a Cockatiel
The cockatiel shares many similarities with the cockatoo – not least the similar-sounding name. However, they are different in many ways. The cockatiel is in fact the smallest and shortest-lived of the cockatoo family (itself part of the larger parrot family) and has a different appearance and temperament.
Cockatoos are the longest-lived parrots and can live to be a hundred years old! However, cockatiels usually only make it to around 15 years old. Cockatiels are also very small compared to other cockatoos. Most cockatoos are around 20 inches long but cockatiels are about 10. Perhaps more significant, the cockatiel's beak is shaped like that of a parrot but is a tiny fraction of the size of a cockatoo's powerful beak.
The cockatiel has a calmer, quieter nature than the loud and demanding cockatoo. Cockatoos love to explore and require constant interaction with people or other birds, a large cage and plenty of time out of that cage. Very bright and easily bored, a cockatoo may develop difficult screeching and plucking problems if they feel under stimulated. Children and pets should not be alone with the cockatoo, as the jealousy-prone bird may cause injury with its powerful beak. Like the cockatoo, the cockatiel is social if tamed young and may speak a few words, although it prefers mimicking non-verbal sounds such as whistles and melodies. Unlike the cockatoo, the cockatiel may be left alone for periods of time and tolerates a smaller cage; these qualities and more make it a good pet for the inexperienced bird owner.