Can I Keep My Budgie And Cockatiel In One Cage?

Q: Can I keep my budgie and my cockatiel in the same cage?

-Andrew F., Carlsbad, NM

A: This is a question we get frequently. Many people have birds of two different species that get along well and become very attached to one another. When they are out together in their play area, they always share the same perch and snacks, and they always preen each other to perfection.

It is completely understandable that their humans would begin to wonder if they would be happier being together around the clock and to consider caging them together. There are several favorable aspects to this idea, such as: having only one cage to clean and gaining some extra space in the home.

However, even though birds of different species might become the closest of friends at play time, it does not mean that they will accept sharing a cage with another species.

In the wild birds are very territorial over their nesting areas. They have to be. Parrots put a lot of effort into locating and remodeling the tree cavities in which they will raise their young. The loss of that nest to a competitor (of any species) might mean the loss of this year’s breeding season, and it puts their own personal safety at risk until a new home is found. For this reason birds will violently defend their nest and are especially cautious of other species.

Because they are not domesticated animals, captive parrots bring their wild habits with them when they come to live with us. Their cage is their nest site, and they will become defensive in protecting it. It explains why many birds object to our hands reaching into their cage especially during breeding season.

Putting your budgie and cockatiel together into one cage, regardless of which bird was the previous owner, puts them both into a precarious position. In a neutral play area, the two birds are able to enjoy each others' company without feelings of defensiveness about territory. Living together in a cage, that might all change.

There is a considerable size difference between a cockatiel and a budgie. If one or the other were to become aggressive (it is not uncommon for small birds to take on larger birds in the defense of their nests), the cockatiel might cause serious injury or death to the budgie. Neither bird will have the ability to escape an attack when locked inside the cage with the attacker.

The best plan is to keep things as they are. Let each bird have their own cage and let them enjoy each other in their play area. You have a good thing going with the way things are. Why change it?

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

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4 comments

Cliff Owen

With three budgies and two cockatiels in one cage for over two years now, we have had no problems. We did spend a lot of time introducing them in the big cage and then finally merged them together. Now they are all inseparable. Our male budgie has his harem of females and is particularly fond of Marsha, one of the cockatiels. I would never consider allowing the same interaction between my U2 or my Pionus with them, or even the U2 and the Pionus. There are limits.

Cliff Owen
Connie Smith

Hi Patty, My Cockatiel and yellow sided green cheek have always lived in the same cage. They were hatched on the same day, March 17, 2013, different breeders. Both females. I bought them the same week when they were 3 months old. They had their own cages for a week, and have been sharing a flight cage ever since. I tried separating them in identical cages and for that week they stayed on one perch, pouted and didn’t eat. As soon as I put them back together they became happy campers once again. Go figure.

Connie Smith
Gary Beckwith

My 1YO budgie loves my 4YO ‘Tiel but that love is not reciprocated. The budgie dominates the ’Tiel and loves to play with him. While they will eat out of each other’s dishes (the same food) and hang out during free time in each other’s cages, they will not stay in one cage together. One will leave when the other comes in regardless of whose cage it is. The ‘Tile likes his cage covered, the budgie doesn’t. Even if they were kissn’ cousins I would never put ANY mixed species in the same cage.

Gary Beckwith
Gail Masters

I have a tiel and a redrump living in the same cage, in fact they are a breeding pair! Well she (redrump) has laid eggs and they are incubating them. They love each other. But I did hand rear both of them together so I guess they don’t know anything different.

Gail Masters

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