Cockatiel VS Conure (Decide Which One is Better for You)

Last Updated on March 11, 2024 by Ali Shahid

Are you looking for a new pet? Cockatiels and conures are two popular bird species that make great companions. They are both relatively easy to care for and have vibrant personalities, but they also have some important differences. Cockatiels are celebrated for their beautiful songs and tend to be more independent, needing less attention and social interaction.

Their smaller size also means they require simpler care. In contrast, Conures are lively and agile birds that demand more attention and care. They are characterized by their vibrant colors, larger size, and outgoing nature, making them more trainable, especially in tricks. While both types are loving and make wonderful pets, the decision between them hinges on the individual’s lifestyle, available time, and interest in training.

Cockatiels are small birds, usually weighing no more than 4 ounces. They’re native to Australia, where they live in dry grasslands and woodlands. Conures, on the other hand, are larger birds that typically weigh around 10 ounces.

They come from Central and South America, where they inhabit tropical forests and grasslands. Both of these birds have unique characteristics that make them great pets, but there are important distinctions between them that potential owners should be aware of. Let’s discuss these differences in detail.

Cockatiel VS Conure: Key Differences
CharacteristicsCockatielConure
OriginAustraliaSouth America
Weight2-4 ounce3-4 ounce
Size12-13 Inches9-12
Lifespan10-14 Years15-30 Years
PersonalityMore AffectionateLess Affectionate
Pet FriendlySometimesSometimes
NoisyLess NoisyNoisier
FoodNuts, Seeds, Fruits, VegetablesWorms, Fruit, Vegetables, Seeds
TrainingDifficult to trainEasy to Train
Caring NeedsMinimalMinimal
Talking AbilityWhistlingCan mimic a few words

1. Physical Differences

Cockatiels and Conures, both belonging to the parrot family, exhibit noticeable differences in their physical attributes.

Size

When it comes to size, Cockatiels are generally on the smaller side, typically spanning 12-13 inches in length and weighing around 2-4 ounces. In contrast, Conures showcases a broader size spectrum. Depending on the species, they can range from 10 to 20 inches in length and weigh anywhere between 0.13 to 0.33 ounces.

Color

In terms of coloration, Cockatiels predominantly display a grey hue complemented by a yellow head and subtle orange patches on their cheeks. However, variations occur due to genetic mutations, resulting in an array of colors from solid grey to pristine white.

On the flip side, Conures captivate with their vivid color palette, encompassing shades of green, blue, yellow, and orange, often intermixed in mesmerizing patterns. A majority of Conure species exhibit a fusion of green and yellow hues, often crowned with black or grey heads.

Distinctive Features

When we take a closer look at Cockatiels, we can see that they have elongated tail feathers and a flexible head crest, which can be adjusted according to their emotional state. Additionally, feathers gracefully frame the sides of their faces, adding to their unique appearance.

In contrast, Conures boast a more robust physique with thicker bodies, larger heads, and truncated tails. Their tails, more rounded compared to the elongated ones of Cockatiels, contribute to their distinct silhouette. Notably, Conures possess a pronounced bare eye ring encircling both eyes, devoid of any feather covering, setting them apart visually.

2. Behavior and Personality


Cockatiels

Cockatiels are recognized for their gentle demeanor, often showing affection by enjoying moments of cuddling and being stroked. These birds have a sociable streak, forming deep connections with their human counterparts, reflecting a familial and interactive nature. While their curiosity might occasionally make them feisty, they generally maintain a tranquil and less noisy disposition compared to Conures.

Impressively, especially among males, Cockatiels display a knack for whistling tunes and mimicking various sounds or even simple speech. An intriguing aspect of their communication is the position of their crest feathers, serving as a visual indicator of their emotional state, whether it’s surprise, curiosity, defensiveness, or relaxation.

Conures

Conures emerge as vibrant personalities, embodying characteristics of being lively, curious, audacious, and vocally expressive. Their active and playful nature drives them to seek interactive engagements, marking them as spirited creatures with elevated energy levels. Displaying a fondness for closeness, Conures often gravitate towards family members, eager to immerse themselves in household activities.

However, their enthusiastic nature translates into occasional loud outbursts, characterized by a distinct high-pitched screech, especially during moments of excitement or when desiring attention. While their intellectual capabilities allow them to learn tricks and utter a few phrases, their linguistic repertoire might not rival that of some other parrot species.

Result: Cockatiels generally present a gentler and quieter demeanor, making them apt companions for families or individuals valuing a serene avian companion. Conversely, Conures radiate energy and playfulness, positioning them as ideal pets for those seeking an animated and involved avian friend. Despite their contrasting characteristics, both species share a profound need for social interaction, forging enduring bonds with their human companions.

3. Training and Interaction

Cockatiels 

Cockatiels stand out as sociable creatures, cherishing interactions with their human caregivers. Their trainable nature allows them to master commands like perching on fingers and responding to “step-up” prompts, transforming such exercises into delightful play sessions. With a penchant for melodies, these birds resonate with songs or whistles directed toward them, often echoing back with their melodic responses.

They thrive in environments marked by consistent, gentle interactions, shying away from abrupt noises or movements. Notably, while teaching them to vocalize is feasible, especially among males renowned for their mimicry skills, it demands patience, recognizing that some may remain silent learners.

Conures 

Conures exhibit notable intelligence, necessitating substantial attention and engagement from their caretakers. Their playful demeanor embraces moments of being cradled and lifted, showcasing responsiveness to tender yet assertive interactions.

Training these birds leans heavily on positive reinforcement, with rewards like treats, affectionate gestures, or favored toys proving instrumental. Employing clicker training techniques facilitates their learning of new tricks, allowing them to progress at individualized paces. While their verbal repertoire might not be expansive, with patience and consistent interaction, they can adeptly pick up specific words or phrases.

Comparatively, conures often outpace cockatiels in the training realm, reflecting their heightened trainability. Regardless of the avian species in focus, the essence lies in fostering trust through gentle, consistent training endeavors. Mastery in training avians is an art, demanding dedication, patience, and a deep understanding of individual bird temperaments.

4. Noise Levels

Cockatiels and Conures are both favored as pet birds, yet they each possess unique ways of communicating. Cockatiels are recognized for their multifaceted vocal abilities, employing a diverse range of sounds, pitches, and tones to interact with their peers.

Their communication encompasses elements of social dynamics, emotions, and potential dangers. Notably, they modulate their voice to suit their audience, adopting softer tones akin to human baby talk when addressing their offspring. Additionally, Cockatiels can produce loud squawks or mimic melodies, showcasing their adaptability.

In contrast, Conures, especially the Sun Conures, stand out for their pronounced vocal volume and frequent group calls. These birds naturally resonate at higher decibels, utilizing their vocal range to convey messages and emotions.

While Sun Conures possess an impressive ability to replicate human speech, their vocal repertoire extends to various natural sounds, like warning calls against predators or indicating food locations. Moreover, they exhibit the capacity to mimic the communication calls of their counterparts.

Regarding sound intensity, Conures generally emit louder noises than Cockatiels. Conures tend to have a more elevated call volume and increased calling frequency. Conversely, Cockatiels typically maintain a quieter demeanor, with noise levels falling within acceptable limits. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to recognize that individual birds, irrespective of species, may vary significantly in their noise production.

5. Lifespan

In the wild, cockatiels typically live for about 10 to 15 years. However, when kept as pets, they can thrive for 15 to 25 years, and occasionally even surpass 30 years with the right care. Remarkably, the oldest known cockatiel reached the age of 36. On the flip side, the lifespan of conures varies based on their species. 

For instance, Sun Conures generally live between 15 to 30 years when cared for in captivity, while Green Cheek Conures usually have a lifespan of 15-30 years. Some of these birds, when given proper attention, can even exceed this range. 

Unfortunately, inadequate care can limit a conure’s lifespan, causing some to live only about 10 years. To conclude, both Cockatiels and Conures can lead lengthy lives as pets, often reaching their twenties or even thirties, given they are provided with proper care, a nutritious diet, and routine medical check-ups.

6. Diet and Feeding


Both Cockatiels and Conures have distinct dietary requirements essential for their health and extended life. Let’s delve into their specific needs:

Cockatiels

  • Natural Diet: In their natural habitat, cockatiels primarily feed on a mix of seeds, fruits, berries, and various plants.
  • Pelleted Diets: To ensure balanced nutrition, it’s advisable to offer cockatiels pelleted diets tailored to their needs.
  • Vitamin A and Calcium: Cockatiels need careful attention to vitamin A and calcium intake to avoid deficiencies.
  • Seeds: While seeds are part of their diet, an exclusive seed-based diet can lead to weight issues and health complications.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Introduce a range of fruits and veggies but remove them after a few hours to maintain freshness.
  • Water: Always ensure they have access to fresh and clean water.

Conures

  • Natural Diet: In their wild setting, conures’ diet is diverse, including seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, plants, and occasionally, insects.
  • Pelleted Diets: Similar to cockatiels, conures benefit from specially formulated bird pellets for comprehensive nutrition.
  • Vitamin A and Calcium: Conures, like cockatiels, require adequate vitamin A and calcium to stay healthy.
  • Seeds: While conures enjoy seeds like sunflower and peanuts, offer them in moderation due to their high fat content.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Provide a diverse range of fruits and veggies but steer clear of avocados and fruit seeds, which can be harmful.
  • Moderation in Dairy: Given birds’ lactose intolerance, limit dairy products.

Shared Recommendations

  • Variety: Both species thrive on a diverse diet encompassing pellets, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Treats: Limit treats to no more than 10% of their overall diet.
  • Toxic Foods: Be cautious as avocados, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol are harmful to both.
  • Freshness: Always provide fresh food and water, promptly removing any uneaten items to avoid spoilage.

7. Health and Care

Both Cockatiels and Conures, much like other pet birds, can face various health challenges. However, with routine veterinary visits and appropriate nutrition, many of these issues can be mitigated.

Health Concerns in Cockatiels

Cockatiels are susceptible to psittacosis, caused by the bacteria Chlamydia psittaci, manifesting in respiratory distress, weakness, and liver enlargement. Additionally, they can contract gastrointestinal yeast infections from Candida, leading to symptoms like regurgitation, weight loss, and digestive disturbances.

An all-seed diet can predispose them to obesity and fatty liver disease. Common reproductive issues include egg complications like binding, deformities, and oviduct problems. Further concerns encompass respiratory, and eye ailments, poisoning from zinc or lead, coordination problems, and potential intestinal parasites.

Cockatiel Care

To maintain their health, a cockatiel’s diet should comprise 75% pellets, and 25% seeds, supplemented by fresh veggies and fruits every alternate day. Ensuring continuous access to fresh water is crucial. Regularly cleaning their cages, and discarding waste and uneaten food, is vital. Given their social nature, cockatiels benefit from daily interaction with their owners and need a diverse array of toys for mental stimulation.

Health Concerns in Conures

Conures can face a spectrum of health issues, including behavioral concerns, skin anomalies, injuries, malnutrition (evident through feather discoloration), bleeding disorders, bacterial infections, and various viral conditions like Chlamydiosis, Polyomavirus, and Papillomatosis. They are also susceptible to beak and feather diseases, causing feather loss, beak irregularities, and diminished health.

Conure Care

For optimal health, provide Conures with a fresh, nutritionally balanced diet, incorporating daily servings of chopped fruits and vegetables. Ensuring clean and uncontaminated water availability is paramount. Like their active nature, Conures require daily cage cleaning, waste removal, and an assortment of safe toys to stimulate physical activity and deter negative behaviors like feather-plucking.

8. Suitable Environment

Cockatiel 

  • Cage Size: A recommended cage size for a single cockatiel is 24” L x 24” W x 30” H, ensuring ample space for movement and wing stretching.
  • Bar Spacing: Maintain a bar spacing of no more than half an inch to ensure the bird’s safety, preventing any potential escape or injury.
  • Placement: Place the cage in a well-lit, draft-free location, avoiding temperature extremes, kitchen odors, and heavy traffic areas. Keep them away from air conditioners and other pets.
  • Environmental Enrichment: Cockatiels thrive with varied perch sizes and materials, toys, grooming supplies, and bird baths. However, mirrors are typically discouraged.
  • Temperature: Maintain temperatures between 65°F and 80°F, ensuring the bird’s comfort.

Conure 

  • Cage Size: Green Cheek Conures require a cage of at least 24” W x 24” D x 30” H. Larger Conures need even more space, with specific dimensions depending on their species size.
  • Bar Spacing: Tailor the bar spacing based on Conure size, ensuring safety and containment.
  • Placement: Ideally, position the cage against a wall in a family-oriented room, ensuring protection from drafts and kitchen fumes.
  • Environmental Enrichment: Offer Conures a diverse range of safe toys, promoting both physical and mental engagement. This helps prevent detrimental behaviors like feather-plucking.
  • Temperature: Similar to Cockatiels, Conures thrive in consistent household temperatures, avoiding sudden fluctuations.

Shared Guidelines for Both Species

  • Safety: Prioritize cages made from non-toxic materials, free from sharp edges or any potential hazards.
  • Cleanliness: Regularly clean the cage, perches, toys, and accessories to uphold a hygienic living environment.
  • Social Interaction: Recognize the social nature of both Cockatiels and Conures; they flourish with human interaction and, when suitable, interaction with other birds.

9. Body Language

Cockatiel Body Language

Cockatiels have a unique way of conveying their feelings and intentions, primarily through specific body language cues. Here’s a breakdown of these cues:

  • Crest Position: The position of a cockatiel’s crest serves as a direct indicator of its emotional state. A raised crest often signals curiosity or attentiveness, whereas a flattened crest might hint at feelings of aggression or fear.
  • Vocalizations: Cockatiels communicate various emotions through sounds. Purring typically denotes contentment, while tongue-clicking suggests a friendly demeanor. Conversely, loud squawking might be a plea for attention or a sign of distress.
  • Feather Position: The state of a cockatiel’s feathers can offer insights into its mood. Ruffled feathers often indicate agitation or an attempt to appear more substantial, possibly out of fear. On the other hand, smooth feathers generally suggest the bird is at ease.
  • Tail Wagging: Just as a dog’s wagging tail can signify joy or excitement, a cockatiel’s tail wagging can indicate a similar positive emotional state.
  • Approach Behavior: The way a cockatiel approaches can also be revealing. If it approaches with its head held high, it’s likely seeking interaction or play. Conversely, approaching with a lowered head and ruffled feathers might signal aggression or discomfort.
  • Eye Pinning: Pay attention to a cockatiel’s pupils. Dilated pupils can reflect either heightened excitement or aggression, depending on the overall context of the bird’s behavior.

Body Language of Conures

Conures, like cockatiels, employ a diverse range of body language cues to express their emotions and intentions:

  • Beak Grinding: Often seen as a sign of contentment, when a conure grinds its beak, it typically indicates that the bird is feeling relaxed and at ease.
  • Head Bobbing: A conure’s repeated head bobs are commonly interpreted as expressions of happiness or a gentle plea for attention from their human companions.
  • Feather and Tail Movements: Observing a conure’s feathers and tail can provide clues about its mood. Ruffled feathers, especially when paired with eye pinning, can suggest heightened excitement or potential aggression.
  • Pacing: If a conure is pacing back and forth within its environment, it might be signaling a desire for interaction, perhaps indicating a wish to be held or engaged with.
  • Standing on One Foot: This posture often suggests that the conure is in a relaxed state, potentially preparing itself for rest or a moment of calm.

Both cockatiels and conures utilize their unique body language to convey a myriad of emotions, ranging from joy and comfort to apprehension and aggression. Grasping these non-verbal cues can significantly deepen the bond between birds and their caregivers. However, it’s essential to evaluate these gestures within their specific context and in conjunction with other behaviors, as a single cue might have multiple interpretations based on the situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Type Of Cage For A Cockatiel Or Conure?

When it comes to choosing the best type of cage for your pet bird, there are a few key considerations. First, make sure the cage is large enough to give your pet room to fly and play.

The minimum size for a cockatiel or conure should be at least 18x18x24 inches, with bar spacing no greater than 1/2 inch.

Additionally, it is important to provide plenty of perches and toys for enrichment and stimulation. Finally, choose a cage that is easy to clean to maintain optimum health for your pet.

What Type Of Toys Do Cockatiels and Conures Like?

Toys are essential for any pet bird, as they provide stimulation and mental enrichment. Different types of toys can be enjoyed by birds, such as foraging toys and foot toys. Birds also love mirrors, swings, bells, ladders, and chewing items.

Cockatiels and conures in particular enjoy shredding paper or playing with balls made from natural materials like wood or sisal rope. Allowing your feathered friend to explore different toys will help keep them happy and healthy.

How Much Time Do Cockatiels And Conures Need For Social Interaction?

Social interaction is an important part of pet ownership, and this particularly applies to birds such as cockatiels and conures. Both of these species need a significant amount of time for socialization, preferably daily.

This includes talking to them, playing with them, and providing them with enrichment activities. Doing so helps keep them mentally stimulated and healthy, as well as creating a strong bond between the bird and its owners.

Is It Better To Buy A Cockatiel Or Conure From A Pet Store Or A Breeder?

When considering the purchase of a pet bird, it is important to consider whether to buy from a pet store or a breeder. Pet stores may offer convenience and a wide selection, but they can also be more expensive than buying from a breeder.

Breeders usually have more knowledge about their birds and can provide more information regarding proper care.

They may also offer lower prices than pet stores. Ultimately, both options have their pros and cons, so it is important to research each option before making a decision.

Conclusion

Cockatiels and Conures present distinct differences that cater to varied owner preferences. Cockatiels are typically petite, emit softer vocalizations, and exhibit more muted feather colors. For individuals desiring a companion that demands less attention, a cockatiel might be the preferable choice due to its more reserved nature.

In contrast, Conures are known for their vibrant plumage and louder vocalizations, reflecting their energetic and spirited personalities. Those seeking a lively and interactive avian companion might find Conures more to their liking.

When deciding between a Cockatiel and a Conure, potential owners should introspect on their lifestyle, noise tolerance, availability for bird interaction, and desired activity level of their pet. The optimal choice hinges on aligning the inherent characteristics of the bird with the owner’s capability to provide care and companionship. Ultimately, neither species holds an inherent superiority; the key lies in harmonizing the bird’s attributes with the owner’s capacity and preferences.

Author

  • Dr. Anees Ashraf

    He is a veterinarian by profession currently working in a vet clinic. He loves to treat and breed parrots to produce different mututions.

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