Cockatiel vs Lovebird – What Is the Difference? [6 Main Differences]

Cockatiels and Lovebirds are both of the parrot family. Yet, they come with many differences. Both are excellent birds, and so choosing which you should get can be quite tricky. If you plan on getting one, it would be best to examine their differences. This way, you can have a more comfortable take on which one you prefer more than the other.

The thing is, these two birds are both adorable and excellent pets. Thus, you may find it difficult to choose between these two, as they are both excellent choices.  

The first thing you’ll notice is their size, as lovebirds are way smaller than cockatiels. Now, if you’re someone who plans to buy one or the other but torn between, this article may help you.

If you read further, you will learn six primary differences between these two. Moreover, it will make things easier for you to decide which one you prefer more.

Let’s get into it!

How to tell the difference between a cockatiel and a lovebird?

If you haven’t seen any cockatiel and lovebird before, you may find it difficult to tell which is which. Thus, you may want to take some time learning the six primary differences between these two. 

Before we begin, you might want to check out also our other related articles about comparing cockatiels with other bird species:

Here’s a rundown of things you can check to determine a cockatiel and a lovebird.


Appearance is the first thing that you’ll notice between cockatiels and lovebirds. There are many differences in this aspect, and you can tell it at a glance.


When it comes to size, you will see that cockatiels are more prominent birds than lovebirds. You can notice it quickly if you have two full-grown birds.

In general, a cockatiel’s body ranges from 30 to 33 centimeters. That’s roughly around 11-12 inches long. Further, adults usually weigh an average of 90 grams.

On the other hand, lovebirds usually weigh an average of only 13 to 18 centimeters, depending on the type. They also weigh much lighter, having only around 48 to 55 grams depending on the kind.

For this reason, you may find cockatiels almost double the size of lovebirds. Thus, if you’re after smaller birds, a lovebird is your choice.


Both cockatiels and lovebirds come in various colors, and they differ significantly in this aspect.

Cockatiels have a solid gray color with red cheek patches and white wing patches. They have such characteristics, especially the wild ones. 

When in captivity, these birds can have lacy or pied patterns. At the same time, they can also have a range of colors. It can be either soft brown, gray, and even cream and white.

Lovebirds have a stockier build. They can come in a variety of colors, from peach to teal to white and green.

Further, all lovebirds tend to have vivid-colored heads and faces while having different primary body feathers. However, most pet lovebirds usually have green feathers.


One thing that you can see at first glance is the difference in their head.

A cockatiel has that specific spike in its head, and it’s something that can set them apart from other birds of their family.

On the other hand, lovebirds have that bare head the same as other parrots.

Thus, if you find the spike a little stylish, you can get it from a cockatiel.

Aside from appearance, other things may change your decision in choosing.


Lovebirds and cockatiels vary in lifespan as well. In short, a cockatiel has a longer lifespan than a typical lovebird.

The lifespan of a cockatiel as a pet can take up to 16-25 years. Still, it can also be as short as 10 to 15 years. 

Simultaneously, reports state that the longer lifespan of these birds is taking up to 32 years. The longest reported life of a cockatiel took up to 36 years old.

On the other hand, a lovebird’s life span only comes at about 10 to 15 years of age as pets. They can last for another couple of years if they get cared for properly, but that comes more as rare.

In this topic, it would also be best to clarify that lovebirds don’t need a companion to live long. Myths state that a lovebird will die after its partner passes. However, that’s not entirely true.

Thus, you can get a lovebird without a partner, and you shouldn’t worry about it living shorter. As long as you care for it properly, it will live long.

Still, in this aspect, a cockatiel is your best choice if you want a long-term companion.


When it comes to temperament, cockatiels and lovebirds are complete opposites. 

Lovebirds are active, curious, aggressive, and playful. Thus, you can see they are full of personalities, despite their small size.

Aside from these traits, lovebirds can also be very territorial, aggressive, and jealous. They can show such features if you fail to train them at a young age.

On the other hand, cockatiels are gentle ones. They are affectionate, and they often like getting petted and held. 

These birds always enjoy small challenges. Further, they tend to keep themselves occupied even if you aren’t around.

Thus, you can opt for a lovebird if you want a more active pet, while you can go for a cockatiel if you opt for the gentler one.

Ability to speak

When it comes to their ability to speak, cockatiels can do more than lovebirds.

Like most parrots, cockatiels are capable of talking. However, their vocabulary isn’t as extensive as other parrots. 

Still, they can learn essential words such as ‘Hello,’ ‘Pretty Bird,’ and other simple words.

Lovebirds aren’t talkers. They do talk to each other, but it’s not so much with people.

Despite their inability to talk, they compensate for it with their singing prowess. 

Their songs are quite pleasant, and it’s quite remarkable compared to other companion parrots.


When it comes to popularity, the cockatiel will have the upper hand.

Many people search more and get cockatiels more than they would get a lovebird.

Still, it doesn’t make lovebirds any less than a cockatiel. In the end, being a trend doesn’t mean better.

Of course, it’s a small deal when we talk about popularity, as choosing a pet is not supposedly because of popular demand. 

However, we can look at it as something worth considering. We can think that there might be a reason why many people are getting cockatiels than lovebirds.


Lovebirds aren’t as expensive as other parrot birds. Further, they offer a cheaper option than getting a cockatiel.

You can get a lovebird for prices ranging from $40 to $130. Of course, the pricing will vary on where you’ll get your pet. They can be cheap or pricier depending on whether they are hand-raised or parent-fed.

If you think of getting a couple because it’s necessary, it’s not. Lovebirds don’t need to come in pairs. Thus, if you can’t afford two, there’s nothing to worry about getting only one.

On the other hand, cockatiels are a bit pricey, but it’s not that much of a difference if you can find a cheap place.

In general, the cockatiels cost between $75 and $250. The price also varies depending on the mutation you choose. Further, it can even turn on where you’ll buy.

difference between cockatiel and lovebird

Which is better, a lovebird or a cockatiel?

There’s no telling between a lovebird or a cockatiel when it comes to which one is better. 

The reason is that choosing which is better lies in your personal preference.

Some pet owners want cockatiels over lovebirds, while others go the other way around.

Looking at all these differences, you can weigh down your choices and see which one is better for you.

Now, we have an idea of their difference. Let us then go to the possibility of getting these two birds together.

If you own one of these or you plan to get both, this information is for you.

Can cockatiel and lovebird live together?

Cockatiels and lovebirds can live together, but it’s not advisable to do so.

As I said earlier, both pet birds have opposite traits when it comes to temperament and behavior.

Cockatiels may be more giant birds, but you won’t have any problem with these. 

The reason is that these birds tend to be friendly to birds of smaller size.

It would be best if you worried about your lovebird. Although these birds are smaller, lovebirds can dominate a cockatiel.

Further, they can be aggressive and territorial if they feel like doing so.

For this reason, you can allow them to play together, but only under your supervision. If you aren’t around, don’t let these birds play together on their own.

Can cockatiels and lovebirds live in the same cage?

Since they can’t live together without your supervision, you can’t put them in a single cage as well.

As I said, cockatiels may not be that aggressive, and they can get along with almost any smaller bird.

However, lovebirds aren’t the gentle ones. Moreover, they can dominate your cockatiel despite their small size.

Now, always remember that lovebirds are not only aggressive to other birds. They can also be antagonistic to other lovebirds if they don’t like them in the same cage.

For this reason, it would be best to get each bird a separate cage. This way, you can be confident that none of your pets gets harmed when you aren’t around.

Can lovebirds and cockatiels mate?

Lovebirds and cockatiels can play together, but they can’t mate with each other. 

Lovebirds are dominant birds, and they can end up being aggressive to cockatiels. Since they come from different kinds of birds, they cannot have babies.

Cockatiels are gentle birds, and they can get bullied even by birds that are smaller than them.

Thus, it would be impossible for these two birds to make love with each other.

Do cockatiels and lovebirds eat the same food?

Cockatiels and lovebirds, though they differ in many ways, share the same preference when it comes to food.

In the wild, lovebirds feed on seeds, berries, grains, fruits, grasses, and other crops. Cockatiels also eat the same kinds of food.

In captivity, both birds also share the same food. Whatever food works for cockatiels also works for lovebirds.

At the same time, whatever is toxic to cockatiels can also harm lovebirds.

Of course, since cockatiels are more prominent, they’ll need an enormous amount of food than lovebirds.

However, you won’t have to worry about preparing different food if you plan to have both birds at home.


Cockatiels and lovebirds differ in so many ways, and yet at some points, they also have things they share. There’s no telling which pet is better than the other since this aspect is a matter of personal preference.

A lovebird may be better than a cockatiel for one, while it’s the opposite for another.

The thing here is to decide with the above difference which one will suit you the most. 

If you plan on getting both, you can also consider the risks involved.

In the end, whatever your decision may be, it will always be a matter of how you can take care of your pet in the future. 

Still, hopefully, you have learned a thing or two from this article.


Cockatiel on Wikipedia

Lovebird on Wikipedia

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