Cockatiels vs. parakeets – Which makes a better family pet?

You’ve decided to purchase a bird as a pet and have heard positive things about cockatiels and parakeets, so which one is the best? We have put together a wealth of information about both species so you can make an educated decision. Let’s jump right in and find out which makes the better family pet. 

Both cockatiels and parakeets make good family pets. If you want a bird that will let you hold and pet them and loves mornings, cockatiels are the better pet. Parakeets don’t like to be kept as much and have more energy. If those traits appeal to you, then parakeets are the better pet.

When selecting the right companion bird potential pet, you must look at your personality. The bird’s so that you will have a better idea if a cockatiel or parakeet is the best option for you. 

Do you like to keep your mornings quiet? If that’s the case, then you might want to get the parakeet. They are not as vocal when the house is waking up.  


Cockatiels: These birds are affectionate and gentle for the most part. If they bond with you, they enjoy being pet, held, and cuddling. If your cockatiel didn’t connect with you, they might be afraid of you and hiss or bite. 

Parakeets: Also known as budgies, parakeets are also gentle and typically get along with people. Unlike cockatiels, they are not fans of being pet or snuggling, and they tend to be quieter. 

It’s always good to remember that birds, like humans, have personalities. They get grumpy, tired, hungry, and anxious, just like we do. So, while there are general temperaments that these birds share, it’s worth noting that not all cockatiels will let you pet them. Not all budgies are going to be quiet in the morning. 

Your bird will come with its own identity with likes, dislikes, and all the other things that make up its charm. It’s up to you when taking on the responsibility of a pet bird to make sure they feel safe and loved. From there, you will see their identity shine. 

Life Span

Cockatiels: A cockatiel will live about ten to fifteen years in the wild if they survive predators and other dangers. In captivity, cockatiels can live up to twenty years or more. 

Parakeets: In the wild, parakeets can live thirty years. In captivity, that life span is much shorter. Parakeets fall under these categories. Budgerigars typically live 5 – 10 years, monk parakeets live 20 – 30 years, and a plain parakeet lives about 15 years. 

While this is not an absolute rule, the larger the bird, the longer they will live. Some larger parrots have 80-year life spans, which requires a lot of preparation for when you might leave them behind, which is a stark comparison to cockatiels or parakeets who do not live as long. 

Life span is another reason why budgies and cockatiels are fantastic family pets. They live long but are not nearly the lifetime commitment of some other birds. 


Cockatiels: Adult cockatiels can grow to be 12 or 14 inches in length and weighs between 2.5 – 4.2 ounces. 

Parakeets: Budgerigars are typically 7.1 inches in length and weighs 1.1 – 1.4 ounces. Monk parakeets are 11 inches tall and 3.5 ounces. Plain parakeets are 23 centimeters and weigh in at 65 grams. 

While cockatiels come in a seemingly one-size-fits-all format, there are various parakeets when it comes to size. If size matters when deciding between parakeets and cockatiels, this section is probably grounding. 


Cockatiels: This type of bird loves to whistly, chat, and make as much noise as they can. Their vocabulary is rather extensive. Everything they utter can tell you what is going on with your bird. Below are some familiar sounds a cockatiel will make. 

  • Whistle
  • Screech 
  • Singing
  • ChitChat
  • Hissing
  • Chirping
  • Mimicking human words

Parakeets: Budgies also have a vast vocabulary and will make all kinds of sounds. Here are some typical vocals you can expect to hear if you have a parakeet. 

  • Chirping
  • Whistling
  • Singing
  • ChitChat
  • Chiding
  • Twirly Chirping
  • Squawking
  • Screaming
  • Mimicking human words

Both of these birds are vocal, and you will come to love hearing them chirp and sing, whether it’s early in the morning or an evening treat. 


Cockatiels: The average cost of a cockatiel can run from $80 – $150. Yearly prices fall between $100 to $300 or more per year. Factors that go into cost are food, housing, toys, and healthcare. Some of these items are recurring purchases, while others are one-time or annually. 

Parakeets: Parakeets can run you from $10 – $60 to purchase the bird. Annual costs will be between $200 to $300, but it could be more. The same expenses apply to the cockatiels. They have recurring and one-time fees as well. 

Predicting the total cost for a bird is difficult because so many specifics come into play. We put together an estimate of what you can expect for one-time purchases and recurring fees. 

One-time Fees

Cages: $35 – $135

Toys: $2 – $40

Avian Vet Visits (first-time and illness): $30 – $120 (possibly more)

Recurring Prices

Food: $25-$45 (several month’s supply)

Treats: $1 – $20 

Avian Vet Visits: $35 – $100 (possibly more)

Cage Size

Cockatiels: These birds like to move around and be playful, so a larger cage is a good idea. You want to stick with one that is 24 x 18 x 24 for one cockatiel. 

Parakeets: Also, active parakeets need large spaces too. The typical cage size for a budgie runs 18 x 14 x 22. 

When it comes to birds in captivity, no cage can be too big. If you think about it, birds fly as far as they want to in their natural habitat, which is less limited than, say, humans who are Earthbound without technology. So the more significant the cage you give your bird, the more room to move around and be a bird. 

We can’t always let our birds out of their cage so, if you keep your bird in one that is too small can leave a bird in a bad mood and with good reason. They might start to pluck their feathers, scream, bite, and have psychological disorders.

A cage should allow your friend room to walk around and flap their wings when fully extended. 


Cockatiels: These birds love to whistle. It typically means they are happy. Sometimes cockatiels whistle to get our attention. Whistling is also a way to connect with our friends. They enjoy repeating sounds and having a conversation. 

Parakeets: Budgies are enormous fans of whistling as well. Like cockatiels, whistling is an indication of happiness, connection, and an attempt to grab attention. 

Read On: You can teach your bird to whistle with only a few simple steps. You can also use these tips to train them to talk. 


Teaching both parakeets and cockatiels how to whistle, talk, or step up is relatively simple if you have patience and some treats. All you need to do is create regular training intervals and reward them with positive reinforcement to get your desired results. 

Both of these birds are trainable. Get your bird and some treats. If you are teaching them their name, say it to your bird. Repeat the title until your bird says it back. Words are more complex to teach than whistling, so you might want to start there. 

It’s worth mentioning that training sessions shouldn’t last longer than 15 minutes at a time. Too many treats aren’t good for your bird, and they’ll need time to digest their rewards. 

Family Pets Differences

Cockatiels: These birds are chatty in the morning and will likely let you pet them and cuddle a bit when you bond. 

Parakeets: Budgies are not fans of being pet, but they will sit on your finger. They are not as chatty as cockatiels but, that’s not a set rule. 

Besides the few differences we mentioned above, the only contrast between cockatiels and parakeets is their appearance. Parakeets come in a variety of sizes and colors, while cockatiels tend to be gray and yellow. 

Otherwise, both of these birds love to play, being social, and eating treats. 

Rick Matthews

Hello, I am Rick Matthews, I have helped raise 100's of pets in my life living with my Father who while we did not live on a farm, raised all sorts of animals to sell them to families. We had so many different pets we all quickly became experts intending to them and helping them stay healthy. Back then we did not have the internet to look up thing on how to take care of their kids. As my kids got older, they wanted pets and of course, I did not want to have as many as we did when I was a child, but wanted to share my experiences. Many of these articles are written to help educate families on what to expect when looking to get a new pet for their children.

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