Cockatiel Vs Lovebird – Most Important Differences

In this blog, we look at cockatiel vs lovebird from many lenses, both behavioral and physical. Stay tuned to learn which bird might be better for you.

If you are looking for a pet bird, intelligent and docile ones that can recognize and form bonds with their keepers are the best.

Bird owners have long favored different members of the parrot species because they have all of these characteristics in abundance.

Among birds of the parrot family are cockatiels, cockatoos, lovebirds, budgies, and larger birds like Macaws.

Among them, this article will compare cockatiels with lovebirds.

Is A Cockatiel A Parrot

While cockatiels are a type of small cockatoo, lovebirds belong to the genus of Agapornis.

Both are beautiful birds that are common beginner pets. In fact, despite being native to only a few places – they are now found worldwide.

Cockatiels are well known for mimicking – though they cannot pick up as many words as larger parrots like conures.

Lovebirds are known for their inquisitiveness and lifelong bonds. Let’s see what makes these birds unique, different, and great companions.

About Cockatiels and Lovebirds

Cockatiels and lovebirds are members of the parrot species, native to Australia and Africa, respectively. They are known for their friendly and sociable nature and ability to mimic whistle tones.

Lovebirds, on the other hand, are known for their playful and energetic personality and tendency to bond closely with their owners.

They are brightly colored and smaller in size than cockatiels. Both birds are highly social and tend to live in large flocks.

They share many similarities, like a standard diet of seeds, grains, and fresh greens.

Being a type of parrot, they share physical traits common to the species, such as their gait, curved beak, and four-toed foot.

You can train both species to do tricks, such as flying to a specific perch on command or performing simple behaviors on cue.

They can also learn to talk or mimic words and phrases, although lovebirds are generally less vocally gifted than cockatiels.

The average lifespan of either species is similar and sits at 20 years. But some cockatiels can live way longer than this, and the oldest of them have been known to live for more than 30 years.

Cockatiel Vs Lovebird
Both birds have similar features and can live for about 20 years

Cockatiel vs Lovebirds: Summary of Major Differences

Both cockatiels and lovebirds are common starter pets. But despite belonging to the same family, they have some stark differences.

For example, lovebirds are known to be more territorial and may require more attention and socialization.

Cockatiels are also generally easier to care for and are more adaptable to different living environments.

Some other significant differences are:

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    DietGrains, seeds, pellets, fruits, vegetablesMainly grains and pellets, some birds may eat greens
    Numbers neededCan keep a minimum of twoBest to keep a larger flock
    ColorsOnly in combinations of yellow, white, and grayVariety of colors like red, yellow, orange, green, and blue
    Social time neededMore out-of-cage time, but less physical activityLess out-of-cage time but more physical activity (in form of interactive toys, perches, and cage size for movement)
    Cage size neededModerate size, minimal flying withinLarger size for flying within
    TemperamentChill and easy-going, but need socialization with their keeperActive and energetic, but can be left to its own devices
    NoiseLess noise, more whistle tunes, and singing, little continuous noiseContinuous squeaks and activity, less advanced vocalizations
    TrainabilityEasier to train, not prone to bitingCan be trained, takes time
    LifespanAverage of 20 yearsAverage of 15 to 25 years

    In the sections that follow, we will cover this in a lot more detail.

    Behavioral Differences

    Both birds show similar traits in the parrot family. For example, they are curious, can mimic sounds, are vocal, live in groups, and recognize their owner.

    These are also traits common in larger birds of the parrot family, like conures and macaws.

    Are cockatiels easier to care for?

    Both cockatiels and lovebirds can make wonderful pets, but they do have some different care requirements.

    Cockatiels are generally considered to be a bit easier to care for than lovebirds, as they are chill birds.

    While they demand more one-on-one time with their keeper, they pick up tricks faster and are not super active.

    Cockatiel Vs Lovebird
    Cockatiels (left) are less fussy and easier to take care of

    Lovebirds, on the other hand, maybe more suitable for people with limited time and space.

    They can be kept in smaller-sized cages, and by keeping them in a flock, you need not spend as much socialization time with them.

    In terms of basic care, both species need a well-ventilated cage, a healthy diet, as well as toys and perches to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

    Which one is more energetic?

    Lovebirds are generally more energetic and active than cockatiels.

    They are known for their playful personalities and can be very entertaining to watch as they hop, climb, and fly around their enclosure.

    Lovebirds also have a reputation for being inquisitive and curious. They are also very vocal and make high-pitched squeaks to communicate.

    In comparison, cockatiels are laid back and less active than lovebirds. They can be playful during socialization time but mostly remain calm and relaxed.

    They are more vocally accomplished but do not vocalize as often.

    Do lovebirds talks more?

    Lovebirds take the cake here, and how! They are much more talkative than cockatiels by a mile. A group of lovebirds will constantly squeak, scream and communicate with one another.

    Cockatiels are less vocal and mostly whistle (unless they are stressed and want to convey this).

    It is mostly the males who whistle more, while female cockatiels simply squeak.

    However, it’s worth noting that individual birds of both species can vary in their energy levels and activity levels.

    It’s important to consider the specific needs and personality of the individual bird you are considering as a pet.

    Who is more affectionate?

    From the behavior we observe, cockatiels tend to bond more with their owners. On the other hand, lovebirds tend to form strong bonds with other lovebirds.

    However, lovebirds are territorial and can get jealous if their object of affection – including their keeper – interacts with other birds.

    In general, well-socialized birds that receive regular interaction and attention from their human caregivers tend to be more affectionate and interactive.

    Providing your bird with positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, when they display loving behaviors can also encourage them to be more caring.

    Cockatiel Vs Lovebird
    True to their name – lovebirds (right) can get jealous if their owner starts interacting with other birds!

    Do lovebirds make a lot of noise?

    In terms of decibels of noise, lovebirds are certainly louder and noisier.

    They are often more active and can be more vocal, especially during peak activity times, usually early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Some common lovebirds noises are

    • Mimicking of tones they hear (but less clear and coherent)
    • Screeches and screams
    • Whistle notes
    • Clicking sounds or beak grinding
    • Continuous chirping
    • Growling or hissing.

    Which one is smarter?

    In general, corvid (crow) and parrots are among the most intelligent bird species in the world. Both cockatiels and lovebirds are smart in different sectors.

    Lovebirds can learn simple tricks, whereas cockatiels can pick up a wide range of tunes.

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      Providing your bird with mental and physical stimulation, such as toys and puzzles, can help to enrich its environment.

      Training using positive reinforcement can enhance their cognitive abilities.

      It’s important to remember that birds are individuals, and various factors, including genetics, environment, and individual experiences, can influence their behavior and abilities.

      Which one is likely to bite you?

      Lovebirds are nippier since they are territorial creatures. Hence, they are more likely to end up snapping at your fingers.

      A well-reared bird of either species will not bite. And biting is usually preceded by other warning signs like hissing, growling, and side-to-side swaying.

      If your bird exhibits these signs, back up and give them space!

      Having said that, cockatiels, despite being larger birds, have smaller beaks.

      Lovebirds may weigh only about 2 oz (58 grams) but have larger beaks (compared to their body), which makes for a more painful bite.

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        Cockatiel Vs Lovebird
        Lovebirds are biters.

        Are cockatiels easier to train?

        Both cockatiels and lovebirds are intelligent birds and can be trained to learn a variety of behaviors and tricks through positive reinforcement techniques.

        Lovebirds can learn tricks and mimicry, whereas cockatiels can learn tunes and common commands.

        You should reinforce good behavior with rewards, treats, or praise to encourage the bird to repeat the behavior.

        It’s essential to keep in mind that training a bird takes time, patience, and consistency.

        For new owners, cockatiels may be easier to train as they do not snipe or bite as frequently. Start training from a young age for better results.

        Physical Differences

        Both birds are different enough to be visually distinguishable. One simple thing to look for is:

        Are cockatiels bigger or lovebirds?

        Cockatiels are larger due to their long tail, but they have a thin, lean build.

        Lovebirds have a stockier build with stubby legs and a larger head and beak.

        Lovebirds: Adult lovebirds weigh around 2 ounces. They can grow up to 5 or 6 inches in height with a wingspan of 3.5 inches.

        Their lifespan is around 25 years. In the wild, lovebirds live in large flocks with over 100 birds. They are native to the savannas and open grasslands of Madagascar, Africa.

        Cockatiels: Adult cockatiels can weigh as much as 2.6 to 5.3 oz. They can grow up to 13.78 inches (a considerable part being their long tail) and have a wingspan of 13.7 inches.

        They’re native to mainland Australia, but wild cockatiels are also present in Tasmania (an island), where they were introduced by accident!

        Who is more colorful?

        Lovebirds are more colorful than cockatiels. They come in various vibrant colors, including shades of green, blue, yellow, orange, red, and other color mutations.

        The blue mutation was only discovered as recently as 1927.

        Many lovebirds have distinctive markings, such as eye rings, cheek patches, and breast spots.

        Cockatiels display color combinations of white, gray, and yellow. Some variants have cheek patches and breast spots.

        Cockatiel Vs Lovebird
        Lovebirds come in many colors, whereas tiels are usually combinations of grey, yellow and white

        Who needs more physical activity?

        Lovebirds are generally more active and energetic than cockatiels and may require more physical activity to meet their needs.

        They are more energetic and may benefit from having a larger aviary with a variety of toys and climbing structures.

        Cockatiels are also active birds, but they may not require as much physical activity as lovebirds.

        They prefer more out-of-cage time with their keeper but are less active and simply like being included in daily activities.

        These birds sleep around 12 hours per night and take more naps in between!

        Which bird lives longer?

        In the wild, cockatiels may only live up to 14 years.

        But with good care, a domestic cockatiel should have an average lifespan of 20 years. Many do live beyond this range.

        As per observations, in captivity lovebirds can live for 15 to 25 years.

        In the wild, this may only be 10 to 12 years. Fischer’s lovebirds have an average lifespan of 25 years.

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          What food do cockatiels and lovebirds take?

          In the wild, lovebirds are granivores and their diet mainly consists of seeds and herbs.

          Cockatiels are predominantly granivores but also eat fruits and green vegetables. In general, cockatiels like sweet food items.

          They tend to reject bitter and salty items (including water with too many minerals).

          As pets, both cockatiels and lovebirds can be fed a diet of seeds, pellets, fruits, vegetables, and occasional treats.

          Some good green options to try include apples, pears, carrots, spinach, and broccoli.

          Additionally, your bird should get mineral blocks and cuttlebone powder to meet its protein and vitamin quota.

          Cockatiel Vs Lovebird

          Which Is More Expensive: Cockatiels or Lovebirds?

          Cockatiels can cost as low as $39.99 or up to $179.99 in pet stores, depending on their color and the rarity of their mutation.

          For lovebirds, the rare Madagascar species can cost upwards of $300.

          Others like the Abyssinian, Swindern’s Black-Collared, and Nyasa can range between $59 to $89.

          On the whole, you can get different species between a range of $40 to $130.

          Other factors like age, parent-fed or hand-reared, and location of purchase can make differences in cost.

          Can You Put Cockatiels and Lovebirds Together?

          It is generally not recommended to house cockatiels and lovebirds together, as they have different habits.

          Lovebirds are territorial and should only be kept with their kind.

          They have large beaks, which they keep trimmed by chewing on items. This habit can endanger any other bird (especially small ones that you keep with them.

          Cockatiels, with their easy-going nature, are no match for the loud lovebird.

          You can keep them in separate cages and allow for common playtime under a watchful eye. However, it’s best to give them segregated sleep and resting cages.

          Cockatiel Vs Lovebird
          Its best not to put cockatiels and lovebirds in the same cage

          Which Bird Is A Better Pet For You?

          A lot of what’s good for you depends on your temperament as a pet owner. Here are some things you can use to make a decision:

          • Amount of care: Cockatiels will need more one-on-one time and care. If you have limited time, it is best to go for a flock of lovebirds who can remain active among themselves.
          • Space: Both birds will need large cages – cockatiels due to their size and lovebirds due to their activity. The latter will need more investment in terms of new toys and perches.
          • Your noise threshold: Lovebirds will remain active throughout the day. They are loud and in groups, quite noisy.
          • Your knowledge of birds: Cockatiels may be better beginner pets due to their forgiving and tame nature. If you’re new to handling birds and do not know all their habits, it’s best to choose a docile bird.

          Frequently Asked Questions

          What is special about a cockatiel?

          Cockatiels are special due to their advanced whistling capabilities and the crest they have on top – giving them the appearance of a small cockatoo.
          They are smart birds capable of learning tricks and forming deep attachments with their keeper. They’re a great beginner and child-friendly pets.

          Cockatiel Vs Budgie Vs Lovebird

          Cockatiels and larger than either. Budgies are small-sized, lean parrots, whereas lovebirds are medium-sized parrots of stocky build.
          Both budgies and cockatiels have long tail feathers, whereas lovebirds have rounded, short tails. Out of these, cockatiels show the most vocal ability.

          Cockatiel vs lovebird size

          Cockatiels can grow up to 13.78 inches tall whereas the largest lovebird would only be around 6 inches.
          However, a considerable part of the cockatiel’s body is its thin, long tail.
          Lovebirds, despite their small size, are packets of energy with loud noises and large beaks.

          Are cockatiels friendlier than lovebirds?

          In general, cockatiels are more docile and less aggressive than lovebirds. They are also generally easier to train and can be more affectionate with their keepers.
          Both species of birds are friendly and affectionate, but their temperaments can vary with individuals.

          Wrap Up

          It’s important to research the specific care needs of any pet bird before bringing one home. You should prepare to devote the time and resources necessary to provide for their needs.

          For any bird species, it’s best to give these friendly birds some out-of-cage time. This will help their curious nature and encourage physical activity.

          Keep ceiling fans off, and openings closed and allow toys to play with.

          Thank you for reading!

          Photo of author

          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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