Cockatiel vs Budgie – Most Important Differences

Cockatiel vs Budgie – which is the right pet for you? In this article, we compare the two birds.

If you are looking to get yourself a new pet bird, you might be comparing options such as cockatiel vs budgie, cockatiel vs conure, or cockatiel vs cockatoos. In this article, we look at the key differences between the first two birds.

Cockatiels and budgies are both related. These companion birds belong to the Parrot species of birds but different families of Cacatuidae and Psittaculdiae, respectively.

These popular pet birds may appear quite similar in their appearance and characteristics, but one major physical feature distinguishes one from another.

Cockatiels have a crest on top of their head, which is not found in Budgies. Interestingly, the Cockatiel’s crest can be indicative of its mood.

Is A Cockatiel A Parrot

About Cockatiels and Budgies

Cockatiels and budgies both belong to the family of parrots or hookbills. Both birds possess a hooked beak that assists them in cracking and feeding on seed.

They can be easily differentiated by the presence or absence of a crest on their heads. However, these birds also have quite a few similarities.

For instance, both cockatiels and budgies are desert birds and can survive easily in harsh arid climates. Both these species naturally occur in the same regions of Australia.

These companion birds are comparatively far quieter than other parrot pets (such as cockatoos and conures).

Cockatiels and budgies are intelligent and curious birds. Hence they learn tricks quickly.

Both the birds can learn how to talk and whistle, though the Budgie’s vocabulary is far more than that of the Cockatiel.

Additionally, the males of both species learn to copy more words than the females.

Cockatiels and budgies make ideal house pets because their calls are not disturbing, and they also tend to remain silent during nighttime.

Cockatiel Vs Budgie
Cockatiel vs Budgie

Another similarity is that both were made companion pets in the 19th century by John Gould, an ornithologist.

He brought these species into Europe, establishing them in the English and European wildlife collections.

Cockatiel Vs Budgie: Summary of Key Differences

BehaviorEnergyLaid back, will take alone time.Hyperactive needs to be constantly entertained.
BehaviorVocalisation & NoiseWill vocalize during mornings and evenings.Will vocalize and whistle throughout the day.
BehaviorTalking AbilitiesWill speak lessWill often speak with a wider vocabulary.
BehaviorAffectionLikes to be petted and scratched.Doesn’t like to be touched very often.
BehaviorBiteMore likely to bite if they’re not in the mood.Less likely to bite.
PhysicalColorFewer colors. Gray or white and yellow combinations.Usually lime green in the wild but in captivity can have upto 32 color variations.
PhysicalSize12-13 inches head to tail.Around 7 inches head to tail.
PhysicalLifespanCan live up to 15-20 years.Can live upto 15 years, but the average lifespan is 5 years.
PhysicalWingspan10-12 inches.Around 11 inches.

Behavioral Differences Between Budgies and Cockatiels

Cockatiels and budgies both make for really affectionate companion pets. They get attached to their owners fairly early.

However, there are a few things to consider before deciding which is the most suitable for you.

Criteria such as differences in personality, behaviors, noise levels, activity levels, and abilities should be considered.

Most importantly, go with the bird you think best matches your personality. Only then will it turn out to be your perfect companion pet.

Which one is easier to care for?

Cockatiels are easier to care for than budgies. They can stay alone and by themselves for longer than a Budgie without getting lonely.

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    Budgies, on the other hand, are unable to handle isolation well. If left alone for even a couple of hours, these birds can get bored, and boredom can soon escalate into depression.

    A Budgie needs to be constantly entertained and supplied with sufficient food and fresh water in case it’s left alone.

    On the other hand, their physical health is more or less the same and need not be factored in specifically when deciding which bird to choose.

    Cockatiel Vs Budgie
    Cockatiel vs Budgie – Cockatiels (on the left) can be easier to care for than budgies

    Which one is more energetic?

    Budgies are the more energetic ones of the two. Even though they’re smaller in size compared to the Cockatiel, a Budgie is active and loud and can interact and engage with you tirelessly.

    They’re highly social birds and do not do very well with isolation. Leaving a Budgie alone for too long can cause it to spiral into depression.

    A Cockatiel, on the other hand, is equal parts social and can also spend time by itself. They will have no problem being by themselves for a couple of hours.

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      Who talks more?

      Budgies talk and interact with their human partners more than cockatiels. Both birds possess the same ability to imitate words and sounds.

      But cockatiels will engage less with you as compared to budgies. If you wish to have a pet with whom you can talk anytime you’d like, a Budgie will be your ideal choice.

      They will not let any opportunity to display their talking skills pass by. However, ability-wise, both the birds can catch up and learn speech at the same pace.

      Who is more affectionate?

      Birds, in general, make for very affectionate pets. Cockatiels and budgies are companion pets that need affection but in different forms.

      While the Cockatiel likes to be petted and scratched, the Budgie will want to interact with you more often sans touching.

      Cockatiels love head scratches behind their ears and crest feathers and are more cuddly.

      The Budgie loves head scratches but is not as cuddly as the former. However, they will interact with you for hours, fly behind you all over the house, and constantly be around you.

      Cockatiel Vs Budgie
      Cockatiel vs Budgie – they are both affectionate. They just display it differently.

      Which one is noisier?

      Cockatiels have louder calls and sounds than budgies. But budgies vocalize continuously for longer periods than cockatiels.

      So it’s a matter of perspective when choosing the noisier bird. A Budgie will keep making noise throughout the day, but the Cockatiel vocalizes only during certain times, such as in the Mornings or Evenings.

      Which one is smarter – a cockatiel or a budgie?

      Both the Cockatiel and the Budgie are equally smart pet birds. Both of them can learn sounds and words at the same pace.

      They will learn to whistle and copy the speech of their pet parent fairly early. They make for great companion pets because they will keep interacting with you.

      The only difference is that budgies are more interactive and active than cockatiels. You may choose the bird that matches your personality more.

      They make for great company for children or the elderly. They’re friendly birds that make for a great apartment or condo pet because they’re well-behaved compared to other pet birds.

      Which one is likely to bite you?

      The Budgie is a more affectionate bird as compared to the Cockatiel. It’s also more gentle than the latter, thus reducing the chances of a bite.

      The Cockatiel, on the other hand, is a more moody pet. While it loves being petted and scratched, if a Cockatiel is not in the right mood, it may bite you as a warning to stay away.

      Who is easier to train?

      Again there is no either-or regarding which of them is easier to train. Both cockatiels and budgies are friendly birds that are very easy to prepare.

      They both learn the speech and tricks of their owners fairly quickly and can turn out to be great companion pets.

      They’re very friendly pets and will spend hours interacting with their owners.

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        The only difference is that budgies will talk continuously throughout the day, whereas the Cockatiel will need some time to itself.

        Cockatiel Vs Budgie
        Cockatiel vs Budgie: Both are easy to train, though budgies are bit more interactive and chatty

        Physical Differences

        Cockatiels and budgies appear to be similar at first glance. They have quite a few differences.

        The foremost difference is that cockatiels have a crest atop their heads that budgies do not possess.

        Cockatiels are also larger than budgies. Let’s look at some more physical differences between these two companion birds.

        Budgie or cockatiel – which one is bigger in size?

        Cockatiels are the larger of the two companion birds and need a bigger cage. While wild budgies can be less than half their size, the English Budgie might be the same size as a small Cockatiel.

        That being said, both their cages need to be roomy enough to allow them to stretch their wings.

        Cockatiels are the smallest birds of the Cockatoo family, and the average adult grows up to 12-13 inches from head to tail. They weigh between two-four ounces. Their average wingspan is about 10-12 inches.

        On the other hand, budgies can grow up to 7 inches in size from head to tail. They can weigh around 1.5- 1.41 ounces. They have a wingspan of about 11 inches.

        Who is more colorful?

        Of the two, budgies are more colorful. They can be spotted in several beautiful color mutations.

        Outside captivity, budgies are mostly lime green with black and yellow markings on their back and wings.

        However, they can develop as many as 32 varieties of color combinations in captivity. There are 18 color mutations for cockatiels.

        Adult budgies can be differentiated by the color of the fleshy patch on top of their bill called the cere.

        Cockatiel Vs Budgie
        Budgies are supremely colorful with several combinations of blue, yellow, green and more. Cockatiels usually have hues of white, grey or yellow.

        Adult females who are laying eggs will have a brown-colored cere, while the males have a royal blue one. Young budgies all have a pink cere.

        On the other hand, cockatiels are mostly found in combinations of grey and yellow. Adult males have yellow-colored beaks, and their heads are usually white. They also have cheek patches.

        Adult females have a pale grey head and crest with yellow-colored tail feathers. Both the male and female also have orange-colored patches on their cheeks.

        Who needs more physical activity?

        Both the Cockatiel and the Budgie would need regular physical activity. Even if they’re kept in a cage, regular flight around the house or a walk will do them good.

        Like in humans and other pets, bird obesity is also a real problem and can cause serious risks to their overall health.

        Hence your companion birds must exercise by flying in a safe and secure environment. In addition, ensure that their diet is a healthy mix of seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

        Feeding them seeds in excess can cause obesity because they have a high-fat content.

        Which bird lives longer?

        Both birds have similar life spans, but the Cockatiel can survive longer than the Budgie. The average age up to which a Cockatiel usually lives is 15-20 years with utmost care.

        On the other hand, a Budgie’s average life span is five years, but it can live up to 15 years with great care.

        The reason there’s a discrepancy between the Budgie’s average age and its full possible life span is due to a lack of understanding of the bird.

        A poor diet, accidents, and a lack of awareness on how to care for the bird cause their lifespans to be almost half of what they can possibly be.

        Cockatiel Vs Budgie
        Cockatiels live longer. You have to provision for this fact when adopting a pet and plan ahead.

        What food does each bird take?

        Parrot diets need to have variety. And since both these birds belong to the Parrot family, they have very similar diets.

        It should be a combination of seeds, fruits, and fresh vegetables. Though seeds are an important part of bird food, they also have higher fat content and should be fed in limited amounts.

        They like fruits such as oranges, and bananas and vegetables such as carrots and lettuce.

        Cockatiels can also be fed boiled eggs and meat in moderation. Sprouts can also be added to their diets to bring about some variety.

        Which Is More Expensive: Cockatiels or Budgies?

        Cockatiels are more expensive than budgies, given their size. The Budgie is a relatively small bird and therefore costs only between $10 to $35, whereas cockatiels can cost you anywhere between $75 to $800.

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          When you plan on having pet birds, you need to invest in a good roomy cage, some toys, bowls, bird feed, etc.

          You also need to secure your household and birdproof it. This would mean getting rid of certain items that can be toxic or harmful to the birds.

          Hence all in all, pet care is expensive. Make sure you’re ready for it before you decide to get one.

          Can You Put Cockatiels and Budgies Together?

          Yes, you can put cockatiels and budgies together. Because they share several personality traits and characteristics, these birds can easily gel with each other.

          However, a neutral introduction is important to ensure a smooth living situation. Make sure you introduce the birds on a neutral ground instead of in one of their cages, thus eliminating any feelings of superiority.

          Let the birds get comfortable in their new environment, and then make introductions. Post this; you can leave the bonding process up to the two by placing their cages next to each other.

          However, if you notice them not getting along, keeping them apart is better than forcing them to stay together.

          So do cockatiels or budgies make better pets?

          Cockatiels and budgies are among the friendliest bird species to have as pets. They’re interactive, great companions, and relatively quieter and well-behaved for apartments and condos.

          Both birds have peculiar characteristics that can help you determine which one will be a better pet for you.

          A few things to consider are the energy levels of the birds, how much interaction they require, your own personality, and the space in your home.

          Budgies are more energetic than cockatiels and will sing and whistle all day long. They’re perfect companions for young children who can play with them and keep them engaged throughout the day.

          Cockatiel Vs Budgie
          Both are excellent pets.

          Budgies are also smaller in size, so they will require a smaller but roomy cage. However, budgies are high maintenance when it comes to their mental health, as they don’t handle loneliness well and can quickly become depressed.

          A Cockatiel, on the other hand, is fairly calmer and can be left by itself for some time during the day.

          Cockatiels make for great companions for the elderly who cannot engage in playing but only need a companion.

          They’re also a good choice for those who spend a lot of hours outside their homes. However, Cockatiels are large-sized and will need bigger cages.

          Hence the ideal bird for you really depends on what your requirement is and what you’re looking for in a pet bird.

          Frequently Asked Questions

          Are cockatiels easier than budgies?

          Cockatiels are the calmer of the two. While budgies will need to be constantly engaged, cockatiels can be left alone on their own time for some intervals during the day.
          In this sense, cockatiels are much easier to take care of.
          A Budgie cannot be left alone for too long. Otherwise, they get bored, and subsequently, their boredom can lead to depression.

          Do cockatiels talk better than budgies?

          No, it’s the other way around. Budgies have a better vocabulary than cockatiels. But regardless, there’s no question of who talks better because both birds can learn speech, words, and sounds at the same pace. The only difference is, cockatiels may not put their talking skills on display as often as the Budgie.

          Are cockatiels more affectionate than budgies?

          Both birds are affectionate and friendly. The difference lies in their behaviors and personality. Budgies are more interactive and will talk to you and fly behind you around the house all day. In contrast, cockatiels may take some time to themselves during the day. Additionally, budgies do not enjoy petting as much as cockatiels.

          Are cockatiels smarter than budgies?

          Both cockatiels and budgies are equally smart birds. They make great companion pets because they can be hand trained and tamed. They catch up on their owner’s tricks and speech fairly quickly. They can learn to imitate sounds and words too. The males of both species are the ones who know to talk, not the females.

          Cockatiel Vs Budgie
          Cockatiel Vs Budgie

          Wrap Up

          Cockatiels and budgies are both very friendly companion birds. They are low maintenance, quieter and well-behaved compared to other bird pets.

          The trick, however, is in picking the bird that’s the best match for your personality and living situation. Budgies make for a great pet for kids, while cockatiels are great companions for the elderly.

          Thank you for reading, and we hope we were able to help you make the choice!

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          Team Beauty of Birds

's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

          You can meet our team here.
          Team Beauty of Birds is separate from the “Parrot Parent University” parrot training course and its instructors.

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