Parakeet vs Cockatiel – What Is the Difference? [5 Main Differences]

Parakeets (also known as budgies) and Cockatiels are both popular and great pets. They both belong to the same family of parrots, but there are many differences you can see in them. Learning and understanding such differences will help you choose which one is right for you.

Since both birds are great, it’s no wonder why many people face a dilemma between choosing between these two. If you are among the ones who want to know which is better, this article may help you.  

Without further ado, let’s get into comparing these two popular birds.

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

The very first thing you’ll notice upon comparing these two birds is their appearance. Still, many aspects differentiate these two.

Since they both come from a long line of the parrot family, they also share similarities. If you’re not familiar with these two, you may intertwine them both, and that’s normal.

Now, if you’re planning to choose which one you should get, understanding such differences is necessary. This way, you can be confident you will choose the pet according to your preference.

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

Aside from appearance, there are four other aspects you can look at in differentiating a cockatiel and a parakeet.

What is the difference between a cockatiel and a budgie?

Before we dive into that, it would be best to understand first that a parakeet and a budgie is the same bird. 

A parakeet is also called a budgie. Thus, if you encounter such things, know that they are the same.

As I said, there are five main differences between a parakeet and a cockatiel.

Let’s get into each of these!


Appearance is the first thing you’ll notice between cockatiels and parakeets. It’s the easiest way to do so as well. If appearance is a big deal for you, then you should read more.


One thing to note is the size of both birds. If we are to compare, a cockatiel is larger than a parakeet.

Cockatiels have a more prominent build than their counterparts. Further, they grow up to be the same in terms of height and even tail length.

The difference may only stretch a few inches. Still, it will look quite a lot on a bird whose body is 10-12 inches long. 

A parakeet or budgie has an average size of 18 centimeters, or about 7 inches long.

On the contrary, an adult cockatiel has an average of 30 centimeters, or about 11 inches long.

For this reason, if you prefer a smaller pet bird, a parakeet is your obvious choice.

Even if you prefer small birds, a cockatiel should still be on the list since a few inches isn’t that much.

Now, if you consider minimizing the space your pet will take, a budgie is your option.


Both cockatiels and parakeets also differ in color, and you can notice the difference at first glance.

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. 

Budgies or parakeets in the wild are green with yellow faces. However, when in captivity, they come in many colors like that of the rainbow.

In general, pet parakeets have a green color with a yellow face. Or, they can have a blue color with a white look.

Moreover, budgies can also have patterns in their bodies, and their colors can be a mixture of a variety.

One thing to note is that both these birds are not different breeds, no matter what color. They may differ in color, but they are nonetheless one species.


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, a parakeet or budgie has 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.


Both parakeets and cockatiels vary in lifespan as well. In short, a cockatiel has a longer lifespan than a parakeet.

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 parakeet’s life span only comes at about 6 to 12 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 aspect, if you think of getting a long-term companion, a cockatiel is your best choice, as it wins this aspect.


When it comes to temperament or behavior, you won’t have any problem with both pets, as they can be both friendly and affectionate.

Cockatiels are gentle, affectionate, and they often like getting petted and held. Further, they are intelligent birds that enjoy every challenge you offer.

For this reason, you can find cockatiels spending time talking to themselves if they see their reflection.

Budgies or parakeets are also gentle and docile birds. You won’t find it difficult to tame such birds, especially if you have them at a young age.  

The good thing about these birds is that they are great with having the same breed in the company. 

In short, if you’re thinking of getting an intelligent bird, you may enjoy cockatiels more than a budgie, although they are both smart. 

At the same time, if you’re going for a better temperament, a budgie is your choice.

Still, when it comes to temperament, you can never go wrong with these birds. It’s no wonder why many pet owners prefer these two over other pet birds.


When it comes to popularity, both birds are the most popular among other pets. However, if you compare them to each other, the cockatiel will have the upper hand.

The truth is, budgies or parakeets are the popular pets in the United States. However, that was way before the present time.

As of the moment, the popularity of budgies is getting taken by cockatiels. These birds have now become a popular choice for those planning to get a pet bird at home.

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 rather than parakeets.


The last thing you can note about these two pets is their price. If you’re someone on a tight budget, getting a pricey pet isn’t ideal.

In general, cockatiels are pricier than a parakeet. Thus, if you want a cheaper pet, a budgie will be your go-to.

Due to their small size, these birds cost way cheaper than other birds. Of course, the cost will vary depending on the color and on the place where you’ll buy. However, an average parakeet price ranges between $10-$60.

In general, the cockatiels cost between $75 and $250. That’s already way more expensive than parakeets. The price also varies depending on the mutation you choose. Further, it can even go on where you’ll buy.

difference between parakeet and cockatiel

Can parakeets talk better than cockatiels?

No specific study or evidence is stating that parakeets can talk better than cockatiels. They both are similar when it comes to talking.

Both cockatiels and budgies have similar characters and talents in speaking. 

The thing is that, in both breeds, the male birds are the ones that typically learn to talk. On the other hand, females of both species generally don’t. 

Thus, you can never go wrong between these two. The only thing you’ll decide is to go with males rather than females when it comes to this aspect.

Still, in general, both breeds do well in home situations, so you won’t have to worry about that matter.

Which is better, a parakeet or cockatiel?

There’s no telling which is better between a parakeet or a cockatiel. 

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

Some pet owners prefer cockatiels over budgies, 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 a cockatiel and a parakeet live together?

A cockatiel and a parakeet can live together. However, it would be best to get each bird a separate cage if you plan on getting both.

Indeed, both cockatiels and parakeets are small birds, and they are not aggressive by nature. Thus, you can put them in one cage, and they won’t likely fight each other. 

Still, it would be best to get them both in a separate cage. Although these birds are not aggressive, they are still animals. Thus, they may get into a fight.

Since parakeets are way smaller than cockatiels, they can be in danger if they fight each other.

As a general rule of thumb, only let both birds play together when under your supervision. When you aren’t around, please don’t put them together.

Do cockatiels like parakeets?

Cockatiels like parakeets. These birds come to like almost all other birds that are smaller than them.

The thing about cockatiels is that they make ideal companions for other birds and us. 

Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise if you see these two birds getting along.

Do parakeets like cockatiels?

On the other hand, parakeets may feel the same way towards cockatiels. 

Like cockatiels, parakeets aren’t aggressive. The only difference is that these budgies may dominate cockatiels in a single cage.

Despite being smaller, they can be quite dominating. Since cockatiels are more of a companion, they wouldn’t mind it.

However, to keep both pets safe, it would be ideal for giving them each a separate cage.

Are parakeets or cockatiels smarter?

There’s not that much of a difference in intelligence between these two birds as well. Thus, no one can say which is smarter.

In the end, intelligence all boils down to the training you are willing to put in. 

Still, if you do want an advantage, cockatiels may be smarter than budgies. 

Budgies compensate that with strength, as most budgies can dominate cockatiels. 

However, since cockatiels are smarter, they can outsmart parakeets almost all the time.

Can a cockatiel eat parakeet food and vice versa?

Cockatiels can eat parakeet food, yes. Cockatiels and parakeets are both medium-sized birds. Further, these two have an almost similar build and dietary needs. 

Thus, these birds can eat the food meant for the other without causing any issues. 

At the same time, they can also have the same preference and will eat fruits, veggies, and treats that the other eats.

If you own both birds or planning to get one after the other, you won’t find it difficult preparing food.

The only thing is that you should give a larger serving to cockatiels and a smaller one for budgies since they both have different sizes.


Cockatiels and budgies or parakeets differ in many ways. Yet, at some points, they also have things they share. 

It would be best to remember that there’s no better pet than the other in choosing your pet. It all depends on which one you prefer and which one you’re willing to take care of in the future.

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.


Cockatiel on Wikipedia

Parakeet on Wikipedia

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