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Parrotlet vs Cockatiel: Identification, Differences, Similarities

Parrotlet vs cockatiel

Be it for emotional support or companionship, pets are key parts of many families in the world today. While dogs and cats dominate as some of the most popular, pet birds are gaining popularity daily. Among the popular pet birds are parrotlets and cockatiels, which have several differences and similarities.

So, what are the differences and similarities between parrotlets and cockatiels? Parrotlets and cockatiels are similar because they’re intelligent and they can talk. However, while cockatiels are calm, parrotlets are aggressive to other pets, and most times, they’re kept alone.

Despite both belonging to the parrot family, they have several differences but also similarities. Read on to learn what makes each of the birds an amazing pet, their similarities, and their differences.

Parrotlets And Cockatiels: Overview of their Unique Characteristics

Check out what are some unique characteristics of both these pet birds that set them apart from each other.

Parrotlets And Cockatiels

Parrotlet Origin and Unique Identification Features

Parrots’ domestication dates back over 5000 years ago by ancient Romans, who considered them luxuries. However, color mutations responsible for some beautiful colors seen today began in the late 19th century. This diversification in birds because of the high mutation rates has led to the increased popularity of pet birds.


Here are unique facts about cockatiels:

  • Parrotlets are tiny birds found in central and North America, especially on the western sides of Peru and Ecuador. 
  • They weigh around 30 grams on average 
  • Available in various colors, including green, blue, yellow, and white
  • Popular for their audacious personalities, they are pretty fearless and daring despite their small sizes
  • They’re among the recent captive birds and might require more patience and time to tame

Cockatiel Origin and Unique Identification Features

Cockatiels are small birds that are natives of semi-arid and arid parts of Australia. Some of their unique characteristics include;

  • As an adult, they weigh an average of 90 grams
  • Have a length of 12 to 13 inches on average
  • They come with a variety of cockatiel color mutations, including gray, blue, lutino and pied
  • Cockatiels are among the most popular pet bird from parrot species in today’s homes and have been in existence since the 1900s.

What Are The Differences Between Parrotlets and Cockatiels?

What Are The Differences Between Parrotlets and Cockatiels

While both make great pets, they have several differences you should contemplate when choosing one. Their differences are not only in their physical appearances but also in their personalities. The following table contains the differences between a Parrotlet and a cockatiel.

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Most species of parrotlets are notably smaller and shorter (Average 5 inches)Cockatiels are longer from head to tail and weigh more than parrotlets
Parrotlets have smooth heads without a crestCockatiels have a head crest, sometimes used to tell their attitude.
Wild parrotlets are greenWild cockatiels are normal gray
Parrotlets are aggressive and fearless, even on larger pets like dogs.Cockatiels are calm and friendly to owners and other pets.
Parrotlets bite a lot, especially as juveniles making them less likely to be petted unless well bonded.Cockatiels are inviting and are less likely to bite unless agitated or threatened.
Parrotlets are not much affected by a new environment and people and are less likely to be stressed in a new home.Cockatiels dislike regular changes and prefer bonding before interacting with new owners.
Parrotlets are more trainable to talk wordsCockatiels can whistle beats and also do head bobs along with beats
Parrotlets live best as a single pet since they’re competitive and aggressive. Pacific parrotlets are more aggressive than green parrotlets.Cockatiels are calm and friendly and can live alongside other birds in an aviary. 
Parrotlets are sexually dimorphic, meaning you can tell their genders by checking their physical marks.Cockatiels are hard to tell the gender, especially when they’re younger than six months, which is the time they get their first molt.

If you’ve been wondering what to choose as a pet bird between a cockatiel and a parrotlet, it shouldn’t be the case anymore. The detailed differences above should help you decide on the type to keep. We are sure after reading this; you will automatically identify with one that blends with your personality. 

What Are The Similarities Between a Parrotlet and a Cockatiel?

Other than sharing the same family, these psittacines also share other similarities. Among the notable ones are their beak shapes, which, like other parrots, have a larger upper beak that overlaps the lower one. Below are the similarities between a parrotlet and a cockatiel.

What Are The Similarities Between a Parrotlet and a Cockatiel

1. Both can talk

Both cockatiels and parrotlets can learn words, mimic sounds, and talk. Like most birds, they have a syrinx vocal organ, which works as a voice box to talk. Despite differing in their talking and singing levels, parrotlets and cockatiels can comfortably communicate.

2. They’re quiet

Cockatiels, and parrotlets are both quiet birds and are most preferred by people residing in apartments. While their larger cousin, the cockatoo, is said to be the loudest bird in the wild, these birds are barely heard through a wall,

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3. Share the same diet

Parrotlets and cockatiels both eat seeds and nuts in their natural habitats. They also feed on leafy greens and insects as part of their protein diet. They can both eat seed pellets and also require a balanced diet to remain healthy.

4. Affected by the same diseases

Like other parrots, parrotlets, and cockatiels are affected by various parrot diseases. The common ones are candidiasis, which affects their digestive tract, and psittacine feather and beak disease, which affects their beaks and feathers.

5. Require similar care

Both cockatiels and parrotlets need a cage large enough to take short flights. They also need bird toys to play with and a perch to relax and sleep on. Both are social pets who enjoy being petted and played with to bond.

6. Lifespan

A cockatiel and parrotlet live over 20 years and more. However, the bird’s environment and diet come into play and can either add on or minimize it.  Also, in the wild, these both can have a lifespan of over ten years.

Parrotlets and cockatiels are wonderful birds to keep as pets. If their differences could not help you choose one between the two, the similarities above may come in handy. Also, if you realize you love them both, you can keep them as well. You only need to observe any safety measures so that cockatiels don’t feel harassed by their noisy counterparts.

Should I Get a Parrotlet Or A Cockatiel?

With striking similarities in requirements and some personalities, deciding the one to get is often hard. However, since there are notable differences, the choice should be made by learning them to suit your requirements. If you have small kids in the house, you can favor a cockatiel more over a parrotlet because they bite.

Should I Get a Parrotlet Or A Cockatiel

Parrotlets can live and thrive alone, which makes it preferable for people looking to keep only one pet. A parrotlet is hyperactive and energetic most of the time, while a cockatiel is much calmer. A bird lover looking to care for either of the birds should select according to these personalities.

Related Questions

The following are the frequently asked questions, along with their answers.

1. Can a Parrotlet and a Cockatiel Live Together?

Both parrotlets and cockatiels make good pet birds, and they can live together. However, their cages must be separated, as are their water and food bowls and sometimes their toys. The separation is necessary because of the aggressive nature of parrotlets who can harm your cockatiel.

2. Are Parrotlets Noisier Than Cockatiels?

Despite being active most of the time, parrotlets are equally quite like cockatiels. They’re both considered among the calm and silent parrots and also regarded as some of the best in apartments.

3. Are Parrotlets Better Beginners Birds Than Cockatiels?

Cockatiels and parrotlets are good beginner birds because of their small sizes and easy management. Most owners, however, prefer cockatiels more since parrotlets nip a lot and can injure small kids. Parrotlets, on the other side, are more active and engaging, making them suitable as beginner birds.


With the daily growing popularity of pet birds, comparisons are crucial to aid in decision-making. They show differences, pointing at the key facts making each bird unique when compared. Most importantly, the comparisons also shared similarities, which show how specific birds relate to others in the family.

Cockatiels and parrotlets are among the pet birds gaining popularity in modern days. They’re both easy to manage, require similar care and diet, and can attain a lifespan of up to 20 years. A parrotlet is unique because of its fearlessness despite its body size, while a cockatiel is calm and harmonious.


Peter Kaestner

Hi there, my name is Peter Kaestner and I am the owner of As a avid bird watcher and enthusiast with a passion for ornithology, I want to share my knowledge and experience with other bird lovers through this blog. As someone who regularly participates in bird-related forums and groups online, I am dedicated to helping others learn more about these amazing creatures. However, it's important to note that while I am happy to share my expertise and advice, it is always crucial to consult with an avian veterinarian before making any decisions that could potentially impact your bird's health or well-being. Your bird's health and happiness should always be your top priority, and consulting with a professional is the best way to ensure that you are making informed decisions on their behalf. I hope that through my blog, I can help make a positive difference in the lives of birds and the people who care for them. Whether you are an experienced bird owner or just starting out, I encourage you to use this resource as a way to learn more about these fascinating animals and how to provide them with the best possible care.View Author posts