Are Cockatiels and Cockatoos Related? Exploring Their Relationship

Cockatiels and cockatoos are both members of the parrot family, but they have several distinct physical differences. Cockatiels are smaller than cockatoos, with an average size of 12 inches (30 cm) in length, while cockatoos can range from 12 to 27 inches (30 to 69 cm). Additionally, cockatiels have a distinctive crest of feathers that they can raise or lower, while cockatoos have a more pronounced crest that they use to communicate their emotional state.

Behavioral Differences

Cockatiels and cockatoos also have different personalities and behaviors. Cockatiels are generally more docile and easygoing than cockatoos, which can be more demanding and vocal. Cockatiels are also known for their whistling and singing abilities, while cockatoos are famous for their loud calls and screaming.

Are Cockatiels and Cockatoos Related?

Their Taxonomy

Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) and cockatoos (Cacatuidae family) are both members of the parrot order, Psittaciformes. However, they belong to different families within the order. While cockatiels are members of the Cockatiel family, cockatoos are part of the Cacatuidae family.

Evolutionary Relationships

Despite their differences, cockatiels and cockatoos share a common ancestor. The parrot order is estimated to have originated around 60 million years ago, and it is believed that cockatiels and cockatoos diverged from a common ancestor around 20 million years ago.

Similarities Between Cockatiels and Cockatoos

Shared Physical Traits

While cockatiels and cockatoos are different species, they share several physical traits. Both have large, curved beaks that they use to crack nuts and seeds. They also have zygodactyl feet, which means that they have two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward, allowing them to grip branches and climb trees. Additionally, both species have feathered crests that they can raise and lower to communicate their emotions.

Similar Behaviors

Cockatiels and cockatoos also exhibit similar behaviors. Both are intelligent birds that can be trained to perform various tricks and tasks. They are also social animals that require interaction and stimulation to thrive. Additionally, both species are known for their ability to mimic sounds, including human speech.

Hybridization Between Cockatiels and Cockatoos

Can They Hybridize?

While cockatiels and cockatoos are different species, it is possible for them to hybridize in captivity. However, hybridization between the two species is rare, as they have different courtship behaviors and mating rituals.

What Are the Consequences of Hybridization?

Hybridization between cockatiels and cockatoos can result in offspring that have a mix of physical and behavioral traits from both species. However, hybridization can also have negative consequences, such as health problems and infertility in the offspring. Additionally, hybridization can lead to genetic dilution, where the unique genetic traits of each species are lost over time.


In conclusion, while cockatiels and cockatoos are both members of the parrot family, they belong to different families within the order. Despite their differences, they share several physical and behavioral traits. While hybridization between the two species is possible, it is rare and can have negative consequences. Ultimately, both species are fascinating creatures that make wonderful pets for those who are willing to provide them with proper care and attention.

ThePetFaq Team