Budgies and cockatiels both have reputations as friendly, social birds, so it makes perfect sense for a bird owner to wonder whether these feathered friends can live together in harmony. After all, companion birds thrive on attention and friendship.
Unfortunately, however, cockatiels and budgies are not ideal roommates. They have several differences, and these differences can lead to the injury, or even death, of one of your beloved birds if they are housed together.
While the cockatiel and budgie are very similar in a lot of ways, it is their distinct differences that make it important for them to live apart, ensuring their health and happiness.
In the wild, budgies must be very protective of their nests out of necessity. They invest a lot of their time and energy into choosing the perfect nesting spot and making it all their own.
The devastating loss of that nest to any other bird threatens their livelihood and the propagation of their species.
This causes budgies to aggressively guard their nests, especially against any unfamiliar species of bird.
This natural instinct to defend their territory occasionally rears its head in domesticated budgies, especially during breeding season, and can spell disaster for your unwitting cockatiel.
It goes without saying that all responsible bird owners consider their birds’ safety to be a top priority. It is your job as the leader of the flock to keep your feathered friends secure.
Budgies, while they have many wonderful qualities as pets, are prone to bossing and bullying other birds, especially those as calm and easygoing as the cockatiel.
Cockatiels are known as lovers, not fighters. It is not uncommon for the smaller, more aggressive budgie to badger his larger buddy to the point of depression or starvation, especially if your budgie feels inclined to guard the food source.
Your budgie may pull out feathers or peck the eyes and feet of your cockatiel. Some owners have relayed horror stories of their cockatiel losing a toe or even a foot to an overly belligerent budgie, making the budgie a risky choice for a cockatiel roomie.
This does not mean that budgies are bad pets. In fact, they are great pets – Here are 20 reasons why!
A cockatiel is both larger and heavier than his budgie relation.
Normal daily movement and exercise by the cockatiel can injure the smaller budgie if the two birds collide as they fly around the cage together.
Although cockatiels are known to be extremely mellow birds, if the more dominant budgie does finally manage to provoke a fight, its smaller size puts it at a decisive disadvantage if and when things escalate.
The sheer size difference between the two birds may be enough for the cockatiel to seriously injure the budgie, even unintentionally kill it, especially when he’s given no way to escape the cage and flee from the instigator.
While the cockatiel and budgie may seem very similar, they actually have distinct needs that must be addressed for each one to thrive.
A cockatiel’s dietary needs are different than those of a budgie.
A cockatiel requires food with a higher fat content which can be quite dangerous to a budgie, as budgies are prone to developing fatty tumors and even liver disease.
While budgies rely on pellets for their meals, a cockatiel should never be on an all-pellet diet because it can damage their kidneys. It is easiest to ensure that both birds get the nutrition they need by having them reside in separate cages.
A cockatiel requires a lot more space than a budgie does and needs a taller, wider cage.
A cockatiel needs plenty of room to stretch his wings and flap around the cage which may bother a territorial budgie.
A budgie can easily be frightened by the large toys a cockatiel prefers…
…while the larger cockatiel may break his little buddy’s favorite toys with his larger, stronger beak.
A cockatiel produces a great amount of bird dust
He requires a lot of bathing and misting, but even with that, his dust can actually cause an allergic reaction in some birds if they are kept in the same cage.
Even if your budgie is not allergic to all the dust, a budgie is a relatively clean little bird, and he may dislike being around such a messy companion.
A budgie is very active and likes to play and chatter constantly
While a cockatiel prefers to spend a lot of time during the day perching and preening. The high energy of a budgie may keep your calm cockatiel from getting the rest he enjoys.
A budgie requires a lot of mental stimulation in order to keep him from being bored
Including the constant rotation of toys and food puzzles! Nagging a cockatiel who is slow to defend himself may provide just the entertainment your bored budgie craves, much to your cockatiel’s chagrin.
A cockatiel is especially prone to night terrors
During these late-night episodes, your cockatiel may frantically flap around his cage with no regard for his own safety, much less his budgie friends.
In the case of night frights, a cockatiel needs to sleep near a source of light to help keep his episodes at bay, while a budgie prefers to sleep in the dark.
We recommend to read the following articles on that:
Jealousy In Budgies
A cockatiel thoroughly enjoys the company of humans, and he needs a lot of attention and affection from his favorite person — even more than a budgie requires.
Any extra attention your cockatiel receives may stir up some jealousy in your budgie, causing him to lash out at your cockatiel…or you.
Budgies are chattier than Cockatiels
Budgies chat all the time, while Cockatiels only make noises from time to time or when there is a specific reason to do so. We compared the Cockatiel with the Budgie when it comes to noise in this article.)
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help ensure your birds stay friendly without compromising their health and happiness.
1. Keep Them Close
You can house them in cages that are close in proximity to provide them with some socialization while you are away. Just make sure neither cage is close enough to allow the birds to reach each other.
Eventually, your birds will grow to enjoy chattering and chirping back and forth. In time, they may even teach each other some tunes. Having some bars between them will allow your cockatiel to feel safe but still enjoy the company his budgie friend provides.
2. Check the Cages
Make sure to measure the space between the bars on your birds’ cages. If the spacing on either cage is too wide, your budgie can easily sneak in and bully your cockatiel without you realizing it.
It is important that the bar spacing is no wider than a half-inch for the safety of both birds.
Also, because budgies are very clever, many of them figure out how to open their cages and gain their freedom. Make sure you have a cage that your smart little budgie cannot open on his own.
This will keep both of your birds secure in their own sheltered spaces.
3. Allow Supervised Playdates
Your birds may play well together outside of their cages where the territorial budgie feels more comfortable away from his own food, toys, and perches.
Keep the length of their interactions short at first, and do not ever leave them alone together.
Make sure they have plenty of space for themselves and provide them with various perches around the room. If you see any signs of agitation from either bird, be sure to put an end to the playdate.
Here are a few signs of aggression to watch for:
- Raising wings while lowering head – This is an intimidation tactic.
- Hissing -This is your bird’s way of saying, “Go away!” (Especially Cockatiels hiss when they feel threatened, but there are other reasons for that as well. Read more on that here.)
- Biting – This is a direct result of feeling threatened.
- Pursuing one another – This is usually a territorial warning.
- Whistling with an open beak – This is an indication that a bite is coming.
- Screaming – This signals that your bird senses danger. (If your Cockatiel is screaming all the time, you should read our article on that here.)
If a fight does break out, you can usually stop it by rattling a can filled with coins or pebbles.
You can also wave a towel in the air to scare them away from one another.
Be prepared, and have those items handy before you ever let your birds interact.
Remember that even if you never see any signs of aggression outside the cage, that does not mean your birds will get along well when forced to live in close quarters. Resist all temptation to put them in an enclosed space together.
If you are not sure whether your birds are fighting or playing, you should read our article on that here!
What birds can live with budgies? Budgies generally prefer the company of their own species. They can live with other types of birds peacefully on occasion, but unfortunately, that is the exception, not the rule. Two males or a male and female will most likely get along better than two females. In the case of budgies, birds of a feather really do prefer to flock together.
What birds can be kept with cockatiels? Cockatiels are very easygoing, and so they do best with a bird that is quite similar in temperament. Another cockatiel or a Bourke’s parakeet are your best choices. Bourke’s parakeets are gentle, sweet, and quiet birds whose activity levels match the cockatiel’s low energy well.