Birds are truly unique creatures. However, there’s no doubt that there are times you tend to get confused about the species of birds, most especially if it comes to Parakeets and Cockatiels. But to answer your question, the difference between Parakeets and Cockatiels is their size and color.
Cockatiels are generally larger than parakeets. Most often than not, cockatiels out large parakeets. Another note is that cockatiels have gray colors, whereas parakeets have bright colors like green with yellow faces. Sometimes parakeets are rainbow-colored, a true beauty.
Where Did Parakeets And Cockatiels Originate?
Parakeets and cockatiels are the two most well-known birds, and who wouldn’t know these species? They are genuinely entertaining, intelligent, and highly social. They have a reputation for being extremely friendly with the birds of their kind and humans. As much as they are adorable, many of us have difficulty pinpointing who’s who.
Some even say that Parakeets and Cockatiels are the same, even entirely different. It’s all about the nuances of their characteristics, lifespan, and appearances. Not to mention where they originated from, which boils down to “Where did Parakeets and Cockatiels come from?”
Where Are They Found?
Parakeets are indigenous to Australia. These birds are also known as budgerigars or budgies. These colorful beauties thrive in the backlands, where they live in hollow trees instead of building their own nest. Another fact is that you can also find these kinds of birds as pets around the United States. More than 120 species and subspecies are commonly kept in captivity.
The same with parakeets, cockatiels are also native to Australia. They are also called quarrions or weiros. Cockatiels flourish in the outback like parakeets or budgies, found on the continent’s northern part. Cockatiels share the same appearances. Hence, the confusion among beginner bird owners or enthusiasts.
Now that we know where Parakeets and Cockatiels came to be, let’s proceed with the nuances between Parakeets and Cockatiels. The Animal Fate posted in their blog last December 28, 2020, wherein Ales discussed the major dilemma on the difference between parakeets and cockatiels. When distinguishing the contradictions between these two bird species, it’s crucial to identify the physical aspect and their personality, lifespan, and food intake. (source)
With these categories, you can ensure the type of bird you would like to maintain. The main differences are based on the parakeets’ and cockatiels’ appearances, life cycles, and personalities.
Parakeets vs. Cockatiel
Although some consider these two the same, Parakeets and Cockatiels are two different species. So, before we dive into these two entirely different birds and have a sneak peek, let’s have a walkthrough of their common and basic characteristics.
Parakeets are also known as budgies and were considered smaller members of the parakeet family. The Britannica posted in their article that parakeets are any seed-eating parrot of small sizes, slender build, and long-tapering tails. You can also find these birds in warm regions such as India, Sri Lanka, Australia, and the Pacific Islands spreading throughout Southeast Asia and Tropical America. (source)
Typically, parakeets form in large or massive flocks that, when paired together, are aggressive.
Nevertheless, they are highly trainable and are good at mimicking sounds or small sets of words. Parakeets have a wide variety of colors. Some mistakenly identify these birds as lovebirds. One identifiable difference between a parakeet and a cockatiel is that a parakeet has cheek spots and close barring on the upper parts of its body.
On the other hand, cockatiels, being domesticated for many years, have earned popularity compared to parakeets. These birds are commonly found in regions of Australia and thrive in a vast environment. Cockatiels prefer open habitats to forage on nearby areas or grounds. Compared to parakeets, cockatiels are quieter. That’s why bird owners usually take an interest in cockatiels, as they are more appealing and more low maintenance.
Now that you know the basic appearance and characteristics between a parakeet and cockatiel. Here are the thorough tables of their different specifications. This table helps determine which bird suits you if you want to be a winged companion. The table has specifications according to its standard parameters ranging from common names down to their exercise or activity time.
|Specifications||Domesticated Cockatiel||Domesticated Parakeets|
|Common Names||Quarrion or Weiro||Budgies or Budgerigar|
|Scientific Names||Nymphicus hollandicus||Melopsittacus undulatus.|
|Size||30 to 33 cm or 12-13 inches||18 cm or 7 inches|
|Weight||2 to 4 ounces||1.1 to 1.4. ounces|
|Life Expectancy||10 to 14 years||5 to 8 years|
|Trainability||Fast learner||Easy to train|
|Activity Time||30 to 40 minutes||20 to 30 minutes|
How Do They Look?
To overview, cockatiels have unique and distinct crests on their heads that are impossible to find on parakeets. Aside from that, cockatiels are larger than parakeets and usually sport a gray and yellow color, whereas parakeets have a more comprehensive range of colors. Since parakeets are often called budgies, this is a good indicator that these types of birds come in small sizes.
What’s To Know About Their Color?
For cockatiels, the most common color is gray coupled with yellow with orange patches on their cheeks. A popular color for cockatiels would be a charming combination of bright yellow and white. If you want to know the sex of the bird, look at the colors the birds have on the specific parts of their body. Generally, males have yellow heads while females have gray heads with yellow hints.
Quite the opposite of parakeets, these birds come in different ranges of colors, starting from yellow, green, blue, and then white. However, the most common colors are blue and green. Moreover, the parakeets’ faces are yellow and have violet blotches on their cheeks. More so, they have six black throat patches. Another thing to note is that parakeets have a tender spot above their beak, wherein you can distinguish if it’s a male or a female.
When looking at the tender spot of the parakeets, a male has a royal blue cere. As for a female, it has either white or saturated brown. But, due to many years of domestication and breeding, parakeets’ and cockatiels’ colors mutate, making it harder to pinpoint if the bird is a male or female.
What’s Their Diet?
The good thing about these two birds is that their diets are significantly close and often share the same diet or portion. Just keep in mind that cockatiels and parakeets need commercial food made of various foodstuffs. These edibles can range from seeds, grains, grasses, organic fruits, and fresh vegetables.
Starting with fresh vegetables, these can be in the form of carrots, lettuce, or squash. Berries, oranges, and bananas are good fruit choices for parakeets and cockatiels. You can also mix these up on a platter but keep in mind to frequently monitor their food intake. Too many foodstuffs can lead to severe nutrient consumption or toxins overload.
Be Mindful Of Fruits And Veggies
It’s essential to consider the servings of fruits and veggies. So, as much as possible, it’s vital to remove the seeds since it’s bad for their gut and make sure to cut the fruits or veggies into bite sizes. In addition, consider a parakeet’s weight since they gain a lot faster when eating seeds or pellets, especially if these seeds are sunflower seeds. Lastly, fresh water must be available at all costs.
Like other animals, parakeets and cockatiels should also avoid food such as chocolates, salty foods, and, more importantly, dairy products. These foods are highly toxic and harmful to cockatiels and parakeets.
How Long Will They Live?
When looking for a flying companion, some owners look at how long they live. Indeed, buying birds as pets is a lifetime investment and commitment since this is no joke. That’s for sure!
So, cockatiels generally live up to 10 to 15 years in terms of lifespan. Some factors affect cockatiels’ lifespan: companionship, captivity, and diet. While on average, parakeets have a somewhat shorter life cycle. Specifically, budgies have a shorter lifespan of about 5 to 10 years, depending on how they are maintained. However, this particular aspect tends to be a rare instance.
Overall, if you’re looking for a long-term friend and companionship, cockatiels are the safest bet for this. If not, you can always choose parakeets or budgies.
Which Is Easily Trained?
In all honesty, both the parakeet and cockatiel are easily trainable. You can redirect its behavior with much practice and repetition. Aside from that, these birds will not be considered highly sociable and friendly birds for nothing.
Particularly speaking, cockatiels have a gentle nature, a buddy-buddy, and demand cuddles. They are fast learners and intelligent that enjoy learning new skills. There are many testimonies of cockatiels owners seeing their birds speaking to themselves when faced with the mirror. So, talk about highly entertaining too!
While parakeets or budgies are easy-going and sometimes passive, there are no problems with domesticating these birds, specifically if you have them at a young age. They also go well with birds of the same breed as companions. In the same manner, like cockatiels, these docile parakeets have temperance.
If you want a highly intelligent bird, you can select cockatiels, but parakeets are your best choice if you’re looking for better temperance.
Which Is Talkative?
In terms of vocalization or mimicking, there’s not much evidence to support the claims about both birds. Regardless, they are similar in talking since they share the same capacities in speaking or mimicking sounds.
The bottom line here is which sex talks faster or learns quicker. The Animal Fate published on their blog last December 28, 2020, wherein Ales discussed that the male birds are the first to talk. On the contrary, female cockatiels and parakeets cannot speak. (source)
If you don’t plan to train your parakeet or cockatiel to talk, it doesn’t matter if you choose a male or a female bird. But, if you plan to teach your parakeet or cockatiel to mimic simple words or sounds, it would be best to choose the male counterpart.
Regardless, both breeds of birds work well in every home situation or condition as long as you, as their owners, know how to make these birds comfortable in their new environment.
Which Is The Best Choice?
It still depends on your choice and interest. Whether you base your claim on trainability or maintenance purposes, you can choose one or the other.
Choosing the safest option or the best companion lies in your personal preference. Some bird owners choose cockatiels since they aim to train. Others choose parakeets because of their somewhat low-maintenance pet handling.
If you prefer a size smaller, parakeets or budgies will be your cup of tea. Another fact to remember is that you can train parakeets by hand, and they are highly trainable because of their social skills. However, parakeets sometimes are intolerable, unlike cockatiels who love to be petted, most especially on their crested feathers over their ears.
On another side of the coin, cockatiels are for you if you like a more friendly bird. Cockatiels, unlike parakeets, are easy to get along with as they are more high-maintenance and need more attention.
Fly It Out And Find Out!
Your choice of bird pets will always boil down to your preference and commitment. The same with getting dogs or cats; birds are not an exemption for being taken care of and loved. Even if both birds have great trainability compared with other species of birds, they still need a lot of consideration.
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- Ales. “Parakeet vs Cockatiel – What Is the Difference? [5 Main Differences] – AnimalFate.” AnimalFate. www.animalfate.com, December 28, 2020.
- Britannica. “Parakeet | Bird.” Encyclopedia Britannica. www.britannica.com. Accessed June 9, 2022.
- Grindol, Diane. “Budgie Vs. Cockatiel — Which Is Right For You? – Pet Birds by Lafeber Co.” Lafeber® Pet Birds. lafeber.com, June 13, 2013.