Cockatiel Vs Lovebird: Which is the Better Pet?

Cockatiels and lovebirds are two popular pets we often think of when considering adding a feathered friend to our family. But if you’re trying to decide between cockatiels and lovebirds, which one should you get?

So, cockatiel vs lovebird: which is the better pet to choose? Both of these birds would be excellent pets. But there are some fundamental differences mainly lying in their appearances and personalities. Cockatiels are larger and easy-going, while lovebirds are smaller, very active, and tend to play rough.

Learn more about these two cute birds and find out if the cockatiel or lovebird makes the best pet for you! I’ll highlight the key differences and similarities and when to choose one over the other.

How Cockatiels and Lovebirds Stack Up Against Each Other

I’ve put together this table that compares and contrasts the two birds so you can find the right bird for your household.

HabitatNative to AustraliaNative to the African continent
No. of speciesOneNine
Physical appearance70-120 grams & 12-13 inches longSolid gray color with orange cheeks and white wing patches (varies based on gender and color mutations)Prominent crest on their headLong tail feathers (roughly half its body length)40-60 grams & 5-7 inches longColor combination ranging from yellow, green, peach, teal, orange, violet, or whiteShort tail (rounded or square)
Personality or temperamentGentle and affectionate. Often likes to be petted and held.Can be loud (75 decibels)Active, feisty, curious, and playfulHigh pitch, constant sound (83 decibels) that may be hard on sensitive earsThrive when they live in pairs or groups
Ability to speakCapable of talkingNot a talking bird, can only mimic speech
Minimum cage size and requirements2 feet x 1.5 feet x 2 feet tall Toys (ladders, perches, mirrors, and bath, e.t.c)18 x 18 x 18 inchesToys (ladders, perches, mirrors, and bath, e.t.c)
AllergiesCockatiel dander can cause allergiesLovebirds don’t have noticable dusty
TrainabilityHighly intelligent and relatively easy to trainMore beginner-friendlyIntelligent and trainable, but difficult to train adult lovebirdProne to biting
DietCommercial birdseed, pelleted food, fruit, vegetables, and occasional treats. The mainstay diet combines 75% pellets and 25% seeds.Seeds, berries, fruits, and vegetation, such as leaf buds. Also, provide occasional treats.
LifespanUp to 25 years15-20 years

Cockatiel Vs Lovebird: The Key Differences

Here are some significant differences that may make one the right choice over the other.

Physical Appearance

A cockatiel is distinguished by its long tail, proud posture, and tall head crest, which it can raise or lower at will. A cockatiel typically has gray coloration with light patches near the chest and abdomen. Highlight colors include white on the edges of the wing, yellow on the face and crest, and bold orange cheeks.

However, cockatiels sometimes have color mutations. It’s natural though rare, and occurs both in the wild and in captivity. In fact, 15 color mutations have been established. A good example is the white face mutation, where a cockatiel lacks the yellow pigmentation and the orange cheek patch.

Though the smallest among the cockatoo family, cockatiels are typically larger than lovebirds. Cockatiels average about 12 to 13 inches long and weigh 70-120 grams.

Lovebirds are recognizable for their small, stocky body with square or rounded tails. They come in around 5 to 7 inches long and weigh 40-60 grams. Color varies widely among the nine lovebird species, including peach, teal, yellow, green, orange, violet, or white. The head and face color differs from the main body color and tends to be rather vivid.

Temperament (personality)

Cockatiels have been known for being gentle and docile. They are also very affectionate and love socializing with humans if given the opportunity. Not only do cockatiels enjoy human interaction, but they also crave it- so much so that these feathered friends simply want to be near their owners.

Common behavior in their everyday life includes grooming, hitting/throwing objects, hanging upside down, playing with toys, and raising a leg. Like cockatiels, lovebirds are social birds. In fact, the name “lovebird” comes from the habit of two birds sitting side by side.

So, for their good health and happiness, it’s best to keep lovebirds in pairs, not singles. However, they must be true pairs (not mismatched) to get along. Mixing different species will result in a fight.

Lovebird affection level is similar to cockatiels. They develop a fierce loyalty to their human companion, though they can be bitey at times. Also, lovebirds are more hyperactive. They love exploring and are all over the place.

Ability to Speak

Cockatiels can talk. However, they are not good talkers as other parrots, such as Amazon parrots and African greys. Though their vocabulary is not extensive, cockatiels can imitate words and phrases, allowing them to converse with human companions. Age, gender, and upbringing are factors that affect a cockatiel’s ability to speak.

In contrast, what we see is although lovebirds are a type of parrot, they can’t be considered talking birds. Lovebirds only mimic simple words they hear more often, but can’t talk meaningfully like cockatiels or other parrots.


While both birds are intelligent and trainable, a cockatiel is easier to tame. Lovebirds are complicated to train, and you’ll need lots of patience. Also, I’d recommend taming a lovebird at an early age.

Cage Size

Both birds love exploring, so a spacious cage is essential. A cockatiel needs a minimum cage size of 2ft x 1.5ft x 2ft tall.

On the other hand, lovebirds need a minimum enclosure size of 18 x 18 x 18 inches. Remember, there’s no such thing as an enclosure that’s too big for a cockatiel or lovebird. So give your bird as much room as you can spare.


Cockatiels have powder-down dust, an allergy trigger. The fine white dust, which grows close to the cockatiel’s skin, usually causes a localized reaction in the air and leads to unwanted health problems if you find yourself allergic.

Lovebirds, too, do produce white dust. However, it’s minimal and not noticeable enough to trigger an allergy.

Cockatiels Vs Lovebirds: Similarities

Join me as I explore the surprising similarities between these two birds.

Diet Requirements

Cockatiels and lovebirds have similar dietary requirements. In the wild, both birds prefer foraging on fallen seeds. Also, their diet comprises fruits and vegetation, with an occasional treat in captivity.


Cockatiels typically have a longer lifespan. Nevertheless, both birds will live for around 20 years with good care.


Toys are a housing requirement for both cockatiels and lovebirds. These active birds need perches, ladders, mirrors, bird baths, and other toys to keep them entertained.

Which is the better pet, a cockatiel or a lovebird?

It is difficult to choose between a lovebird or a cockatiel because they are both good in different ways. It depends on personal preferences and what you are looking for in a pet.

If you want something friendly, clam, and more affectionate, then it’s definitely the cockatiel for you! It makes a good pet bird for beginners.

A lovebird might be the better choice if you have allergic reactions and want an energetic little bird that won’t constantly demand your attention. It’s the better choice if you have kept parrots before. However, you should be ready to put up with its ear-piercing shrieks.


Let’s take a look at some of the FAQs about both species.

Are lovebirds louder than cockatiels?

Lovebirds are louder and generate constant high-pitched shrieks. Lovebirds have an average decibel level of 83, louder than 75 decibels for cockatiels.

Can lovebirds and cockatiels live together?

Despite their diminutive stature, lovebirds are typically aggressive and will likely overtake a cockatiel. So, it is best for these two types of birds not to share the same cage unless they have been properly socialized from an early age.

Can cockatiels and lovebirds mate?

No. Lovebirds and cockatiels are different birds. So they can’t mate and have babies.


That’s it for cockatiel Vs lovebird. Each species has its own personality, but they’re also similar in other ways. Looking at all these differences and similarities, you can narrow down your choices and see which bird is the better pet for you.

In my opinion, a cockatiel makes a better beginner bird. A lovebird, on the other hand, is excellent for anyone who has kept parrots before and is willing to put up with moody tantrums.

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