When you are considering choosing a companion parrot, cockatiels and conures are two of the most popular birds in the medium-size category.
The cockatiel vs conure dilemma is a common one for this reason.
However, there are some important differences in every single area from behavior to care needs between a cockatiel and a conure.
You will also have different challenges when training and handling a cockatiel and a conure.
In this article, learn all the major considerations to think through before you choose between a cockatiel vs conure.
Cockatiel Vs Conure
Cockatiels and conures come from different branches of the greater parrot family.
They look different, sound different, and interact differently with people.
This makes choosing between a cockatiel and a conure a process that requires research and careful consideration.
Learn About Cockatiel Vs Conure From An Experienced Bird Owner
In this informative YouTube video, you can get a good visual of the size differences between a cockatiel and a conure.
You will also learn about personality differences and care needs for both the cockatiel and the conure.
Cockatiel Vs Conure Size Differences
While there are only species of cockatiel, there are multiple conure species. Different conures are going to be different sizes.
Lafeber explains that there is a noticeable size difference between two of the most popular species of conures, the green cheek conure and the sun conure.
The sun conure is going to be about two inches longer and sport a bigger beak.
Cockatiels are bigger, heavier birds than green cheek conures and about the same length as a sun conure but weigh less.
Cockatiel Vs Conure Volume Differences
As this Parrot Forum owner thread points out, both cockatiels and conures are vocal birds.
Both will use their voice without hesitation to communicate, call out warnings and mimic common sounds they hear.
But the actual sounds a cockatiel and a conure make are different. Cockatiels tend to have a quieter, sweeter vocal timbre overall. Conures can be fond of screeching at a volume neighbors with shared walls may not appreciate.
Here, it is worth mentioning that females of both bird species tend to be quieter overall.
However, this is a blanket generalization that should not override temperament tendencies (including issues of past neglect or abuse) with individual birds.
Cockatiel Vs Conure Talking Differences
Lots of people are charmed by the concept of a talking parrot.
However, as Vetstreet points out, talking ability can differ by avian species as well as individual birds within that species.
Here, neither the cockatiel nor the conure is considered to excel at talking. In the parrot world, the tiny budgerigar and the larger African Grey and Amazon parrots are the real talking stars, often mastering hundreds of words and phrases.
Cockatiels and conures can learn to talk with patience and persistence, but not all birds will do so. Cockatiels are known for their whistling abilities, often memorizing and repeating whole songs they have learned.
Conures can also learn to talk and whistle, although they don’t typically excel at either. Where conures really shine is in learning tricks! They are the tricksters of the parrot world – especially the smaller green cheek conures.
Cockatiel Vs Conure Bite Strength Differences
As this Avian Avenue owner forum thread illustrates, conures are known to be biters.
This doesn’t mean that a cockatiel won’t bite. Anything with a mouth can and will bite when they feel it is appropriate or warranted.
However, conures as a whole have a tendency to opt for biting when another method of communication might easily do just as well. And because the conure beak is larger than that of a cockatiel, the bite tends to hurt more.
But it is important to remember that training can go a long way towards tempering a “bitey” bird, regardless of the species.
If you are willing to put the time in to train your new bird, in most cases you can effectively temper those natural instincts to bite.
Cockatiel Vs Conure Messiness Differences
Any companion parrot is going to deliver a certain amount of mess. Parrots in general tend to be relatively messy eaters.
This works great in their natural environments, where dropped seeds can help replenish local fauna, and bits of fruits, nuts, and grasses can feed ground-dwelling species.
In your home, however, you will need to take additional measures to prevent your bird from flinging particles of whatever they are eating off their beaks and out of their food cups and onto the floor, countertop, or chairs.
Cockatiels are also known for producing a surprisingly large quantity of dander in relation to their size, as Tailfeathers Network highlights.
This is due to how cockatiels preen and replenish their feathers. It is a natural and essential part of self-grooming for these birds, as Pet Assure explains.
Conures, on the other hand, do not produce a lot of dander. This can make a conure a smarter choice if you have allergies.
Like all bird species, both cockatiels and conures will go through seasonal molts. These are essential to replace damaged or worn feathers with new feathers. During molting, your bird will drop a large number of feathers in a short period of time.
However, these periods are temporary and tend to be related to the changing of the seasons each year.
Cockatiel Vs Conure Handling Differences
As we mentioned earlier in this article, everything with a beak is capable of delivering a sharp nip.
But conures, in general, are more likely to do so – it is just a part of the species personality.
Cockatiels and conures that are hand-tamed and socialized to their humans can both be very cuddly parrots. Cockatiels may prefer having their neck feathers rubbed and sitting on their humans.
Conures may prefer cuddling in the nape of their person’s neck, inside a hoodie, or in another area where they can crawl inside to hide.
Both cockatiels and conures are labor-intensive in terms of the amount of time and attention they need from their people. This intensifies if you are keeping a single bird.
It is vital to understand that this dependency or clingy-ness results from how these birds live in the wild.
As National Geographic explains, both are flocking species that live in family groups of 10 to 20 individuals. To be alone in the wild is to be vulnerable to predation.
So if you do not have a lot of time to spend with your new cockatiel or conure, it is best to consider adopting two birds or choose a less interactive pet species.
If you do decide to adopt two birds, make sure the two individuals are compatible and will get along well.
This is especially important if you do not plan to breed your birds and you are bringing home two same-species birds, particularly if you have two males.
Parrots are sensitive, intelligent animals, and, like people, they prefer to choose their own friends.
Cockatiel Vs Conure Personality Differences
Cockatiels and conures are popular precisely because they are lively, entertaining, affectionate, and interactive.
But what is important to know as you are picking out your new bird is that not all cockatiels and conures are sold after they have been socialized to people.
Breeder-born birds should be hand-tamed by the breeder, which will ease their fear of human handling. Aviary birds that have been used for breeding are typically not hand-tamed.
Any bird that has not been handled gently and regularly by people will likely demonstrate fear until they learn to trust you.
Rescuing a cockatiel or conure is a great way to give a relinquished or abandoned parrot a second chance and a forever home. One perk of going the rescue route is that many parrot rescues work hard to ensure the new owner will be a good fit for the bird.
So you can spend time handling and interacting with your cockatiel or conure before you make that all-important lifetime commitment.
Cockatiel Vs Conure Health and Lifespan Differences
When you choose a cockatiel or a conure, you are selecting a relatively long-lived parrot species.
Both cockatiels and conures that are cared for appropriately can easily live into their 30’s.
Because of this longevity, it is important to consider whether these birds are a good choice as a pet for a young person who may lose interest or move away from school.
Many cockatiels and conures get relinquished to parrot rescues each year when a young owner goes away to college and can’t continue caring for their bird. Will you be willing to continue caring for and socializing with the bird if this occurs?
Cockatiel Vs Conure: Which Bird Is Right for You
Now that you have a basic understanding of the similarities and differences between a cockatiel vs conure, you can decide which bird species is a better fit for you.