Cockatiel vs Conure – What Is the Difference?

Once you decide to get a pet bird, there are several considerations you will take into account before settling on one. One of the main ones is the type of bird you want. The amount of cash and time you can dedicate to caring for the bird are among the leading considerations.

The way you wish to interact with it as well as your available space should also inform your choice. If you are looking for a bird that you can “converse” with, a pet from the parrot order would be your first choice.

The leading options for pet parrots are cockatiels and conures. The conure is a medium-sized parrot native to the northeastern Brazilian region including Venezuela, Guyana and northern Brazil.

They generally inhabit inland tropical habitats but can also be found in coastal forests and dry woodland savanna. There are several conure types, but they are primarily classified into the Arantinga and Pyrrhura species.

The cockatiel is the only bird classified under the nymphicus genus and nymhicinae subfamily. It is a native of the Australian Outback region.

Before settling on either, below are a few tidbits on elements that differentiate the cockatiel and conure to inform your decision.

Physical Differences

Though they are larger than the parakeets with which they are often confused, conures have a light body build, small strong beaks and long tapered tails. The birds are primarily popular as pets because of their small build.

Conures also have a small cere and horn-colored or black beaks. Like all members of the cockatoo species, cockatiels have feathers that cover the sides of their faces, and erectile crests.

Moreover, their tail feathers are long and sometimes measure up to half of the length of their bodies.

Size Differences

A bird’s weight not only determines its housing needs but is also an indicator of its health. The cockatiel is the smallest among the birds in the cockatoo family at 12-13 inches. The other birds in the family are 12-24 inches long.

The cockatiel weighs 2-4 ounces. The conure, on the other hand, grows to adult body lengths of approximately 12 inches. Its average weight will depend on the conure’s species.

For example, the blue-crowned conure weighs 84-100 gram, the green-cheeked conure weighs 60-80 gram, the sun conure weighs 100-130 gram, and the jenday conure weighs 120 gram.

Color Differences

The conure is a colorful bird, but its exact coloration will depend on the species you choose. The Arantiga species includes green birds with red, blue or brown markings. However, the jenday conure that belongs to this species has a yellow breast and head.

The sun conure is generally yellow with green wings and tails as well as orange marks on the abdomen and head. The Pyrrhura species includes conures that are primarily green with reddish-brown tails.

The birds also have species-specific markings that differentiate them. For example, the maroon-bellied conure has a heart-shaped maroon tint on its belly.

The wild or standard type cockatiel is mainly grey with white, yellow and orange spots. Owing to cross and selective breeding in captivity, cockatiels are now available in other colors including lutino, pied, fallow, olive, pearl and cinnamon.

Behavior Differences

Conures are playful amusing birds that enjoy engaging in different athletic tricks. The birds are also interactive, and you can easily teach them a few words. The conure can, however, be quite aggressive when provoked and often goes through nippy phases.

When startled, even the most gentle and tamest of conures can bite adults and children. Thankfully, this is a natural reaction rather than a reflection of its personality. Conures are quite loud and can emit ear-piercing screams, making them unsuitable for an apartment environment.

Cockatiels are gentle and affectionate birds that will love being petted. Though largely friendly untamed birds might initially nip, a behavior that is best ignored rather than punished. Cockatiels are intelligent, and you can easily teach them several tricks over time.

Most cockatiels even spend time talking to their reflections in mirrors. Though the birds vocalize and whistle, they are not as loud as other parrots.

Diet Differences

Conures in their natural habitats will thrive on seeds, fruits and nuts. As pets, give them a formulated pelleted feed supplemented with root vegetables, leafy greens and fruits. Sweet potatoes that have been lightly steamed make excellent food for your pet bird.

While you can give your conure an unlimited amount of pelleted feeds, it will only eat what it needs, so you need not worry about overfeeding. The veggies and fruits can be given as an eight or quarter cup in the mornings and evenings. Seeds and nuts are good choices for occasional conure treats.

Seeds can be nutritious options for your cockatiel’s diet. Even so, they should not comprise over 30% of its diet because they are high in fats. Pelleted feeds are the ideal options for your cockatiel since they are balanced, and the bird cannot pick out its preferred seeds.

You can also add veggies and fruits to the cockatiel’s diet. The bird is naturally not inclined to overeat and will stop when full thus negating the risk of overfeeding.

Care Differences

As active birds, conures will be most comfortable in roomy enclosures. The ideal cage for your bird is one that is 20x20x36 inches. Ensure the bars on the cage are narrow to avert the risk of your bird’s head getting stuck in them.

You can include a play gym near the cage for your conure to explore and stretch its wings. Though the birds are less enthusiastic about bathing compared to other parrots, provide a clean water bowl in your pet’s cage for it to splash around and bathe.

Cockatiels are naturally messy and generate some powdery dust on their feathers. The dust is meant for grooming but might become spread in the cage and coat it. As such, regular cage cleaning is essential when keeping a cockatiel.

The ideal cage for a cockatiel measures 20 x 20 x 26 inches. Include horizontal cage bars for the bird’s exercise and perches for resting in its cage.

Cockatiels are susceptible to harm from several household dangers. For instance, the bird’s cage should be away from kitchens since Teflon fumes from cookware can harm it.

Breeding Differences

Conures are among the easiest birds to breed in captivity. They reach sexual maturity at twelve months.

Though some female conures are sexually mature at seven months, breeding should only happen when they are a year old to maintain the bird’s health. They lay 4-7 eggs per clutch and these hatch after about 23 days.

Cockatiels will breed in captivity only if they are compatible with the mates with which they are bonded. A male cockatiel should be not less than 18months at the time of breeding while the female should be at least two years old.

The females lay 4-6 eggs per clutch, and these are incubated for about 20 days. Most breeders let parent cockatiels raise their young until they are two weeks old. You can wean them at 6-8 weeks old with millet, fruit, softened pellets and vegetables.

Lifespan Differences

A conure’s life expectancy in captivity is 25-30 years while pet cockatiels live for 15-20 years on average.


The above information will hopefully go a long way in ensuring you pick a parrot that best meets your needs and matches your personality. Once you get the conure or cockatiel, be careful to quickly identify the common health issues to which the birds are prone.

The common health conditions that affect conures include feather disease, aspergillosis, and proventricular dilatation disease. On the other hand, cockatiels are prone to nutritional deficiencies, fatty liver disease, psittacosis and respiratory infections.

Getting a reliable vet to routinely immunize your pet and promptly treat any infections should be the first order of business when you get a cockatiel or conure to guarantee its prolonged life.

avatar William
William is a respected pet enthusiast with expertise in reptiles and birds. With extensive experience caring for these animals, he shares his knowledge through engaging and informative articles in various publications. He is an active member of pet-related organizations, volunteering regularly at shelters and promoting animal welfare and conservation. read more...

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