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

Cockatiels and Parrotlets are both from the parrot family. However, that’s as far as they go in similarities. Cockatiels and Parrotlets are birds with opposite behaviors. Thus, getting either one of these birds depends mostly on preference. For someone who has no idea about either one, understanding both is crucial in deciding which to get.

If you find it challenging to decide which one to get, this article may help you.

In this article, you can learn their differences, and lets you compare each. This way, you’ll have an idea which one is suitable according to your preference.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

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

If you haven’t seen any cockatiel and parrotlet 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 parrotlet.


Of course, the first and most essential aspect of comparison is appearance. At a glance, you can already see and tell the difference between these two.

Let’s get into it more!


When it comes to size, cockatiels are way bigger than parrotlet. Thus, if you see these two birds, you can bet that the bigger one is the cockatiel and the smaller one is the parrotlet.

In general, parrotlets have a body of 4.5 to 5 inches long. In fact, these birds are the second smallest kind of parrot in the world. They rarely grow more than 5 inches or 13 centimeters. 

Moreover, they weigh an average of 24-34 grams, depending on their kind. Green-rumped parrotlet can be the lighter ones at 24 grams. The biggest of them is the Mexican parrotlet, with a weight of 34 grams.

On the other hand, cockatiels have a bigger build with a length of 30-33 centimeters. That’s roughly less than 12-13 inches long. Thus, it’s more than double the size of parrotlets.

Further, they are also heavier, with an average weight of 90 grams. Thus, if you opt for smaller birds, parrotlets are your choice.


Both cockatiels and parrotlets come in various colors, and they differ 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.

In all parrotlet species, the nominate color is varying shades of green. Some species, like the Pacific, come in a variety of mutations. The colors range from blue, yellow, lutino, fallow, darker green, pastel, Isabel (cinnamon), albino, and white.


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, parrotlets 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.


Parrotlets and cockatiels have a similar lifespan. Thus, you can’t go wrong in choosing either of the two in this aspect. 

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.

In general, parrotlets have a lifespan ranging from 15-20 years. It can be shorter or longer, depending on the circumstances. For instance, these birds are ideal alone than with a partner. 

The reason is that one can be dominant over the other, and it can cause fights and harm that can shorten their life.

When it comes to lifespan, it all boils down to proper care. As long as you take good care of your pet, you can have a long-term companion with either of these two.


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

Parrotlets are parrots in smaller bodies. Thus, they are usually are active, curious, feisty, and playful. Further, you can see they are full of personalities, despite their small size.

Another thing to note is that these birds can be very territorial, aggressive, and jealous. They can show such features towards other birds, and even to their kind.

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 parrotlets if you want an active pet, while you can go for cockatiels if you opt for a gentler one.

Ability to speak

When it comes to speaking, parrotlets are your better option than cockatiels. 

Since parrotlets are small parrots, the talking capacity is quite an easy task for them. Of course, the male birds are more proficient than females.

On the other hand, cockatiels may be capable of talking. Still, their vocabulary isn’t as extensive as parrotlets and even other parrots.

Indeed, they can learn essential words such as ‘Hello,’ ‘Pretty Bird,’ and other simple words. However, you’ll have a much better talking with parrotlets.

If you are a fan of talking birds, parrotlets are your better options. Whatever your choice is, you’ll have better chances if you get a male bird than a female one.


Cockatiels are way more popular than parrotlets. The reason is that many people are searching for these birds more and getting them as pets.

Many people search more and get cockatiels more than they would get parrotlet.

Still, it doesn’t make parrotlets 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 parrotlets.


Another critical factor in choosing a pet is its price. The reason is that while many people have the luxury to afford expensive birds, some can’t.

If you’re opting for a cheaper option, cockatiels are your choice.

In general, the cockatiels cost between $75 and $250. The price also varies depending on the mutation you choose. Further, it can even be lower or higher depending on the store where you’ll get your pet.

Parrotlets can be a bit more expensive than cockatiels. The price of parrotlets can be $100 up to $350. It can even be a bit higher, depending on mutations and species.

The most popular parrotlets of this price-range are the Pacific and the Green-rumped.

If you don’t mind the price, you can always go for parrotlets. Still, it would depend on which bird you prefer more than the other.

difference between parrotlet and cockatiel

Are parrotlets or cockatiels better pets?

It’s hard to tell which one is a better pet between parrotlets and cockatiels. The reason is that this idea depends on the preference of each person.

Some pet owners want cockatiels over parrotlets, 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.

Do parrotlets and cockatiels get along?

If you put these two birds together, you’ll likely end up with the cockatiel getting hurt by the parrotlet.

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 parrotlet. Although these birds are smaller, they 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.

Lastly, if you wish to get both birds, it would be best to also get a separate cage for each. 

This way, you can be confident that both birds are safe from each other’s potential bullying.

Are parrotlets louder than cockatiels?

Both birds come from the parrot family, so being loud is one of their identity. However, if you are to compare, then the parrotlets are quieter than cockatiels.

Some people consider cockatiels a little noisy, but they aren’t that loud as well. If you compare cockatiels to other parrots, they belong on the quiet side.

If you prefer cockatiels, consider getting the female instead of the male. The thing is that these birds aren’t as noisy as their counterparts.

When it comes to parrotlets, their noisiness varies on their kind. Green-rumped parrotlets are a bit chatty. They can produce loud noises when they forage in flocks.

If you live in an apartment, Pacific Parrotlets are your bird choice. These will repeat words and simple phrases. However, they aren’t the finest talkers of the family.

Still, noisiness also depends on the amount of attention you give to your pet.

If you aren’t paying the proper amount of attention, both cockatiels and parrotlets can be noisy.

As long as you give proper attention and care, your pets won’t produce a fuss that can disturb your neighbors.

Do cockatiels and parrotlets eat the same food?

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

In the wild, parrotlets feed on blossoms, seed heads, fruits, and berries. Their diet should have safe fruits and vegetables as well. Cockatiels also eat the same kinds of food.

Aside from these foods, they also need high-quality commercial pellets and protein-rich foods.

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

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

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

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


Cockatiels and parrotlets 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.

Parrotlets may be better than cockatiels for one, while it can be 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

Parrotlet on Wikipedia

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