Housing Two Different Species In One Cage

Housing Two Different Species In One Cage

 March 14th, 2011
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Q: I am thinking of getting a quaker parrot. Can I put him in the same cage with my cockatiel?
–Linda L., Minot, ND

A: This is just not a good idea. I have both species of birds and find that I have to watch the interaction between both closely even when they are in a common play area. Although they appear to be similar in size, the body type of the quaker is stockier, the beak larger and the personality more aggressive. The quaker is a more powerful bird than the cockatiel.

Even in cases where the birds seem to get along well, you have to consider the possibility that one day there might be an altercation between the two. The more delicate of the two birds, the cockatiel, would be the likely loser.  And being confined in a cage, where there is no possibility of escape, things could get ugly, or worse.

It is inadvisable to put two birds of different sizes together in close proximity at all. Never make the assumption that you know your birds well enough to feel certain that neither would cause an incident. I promise you that you do not know your bird that well. None of us do. A bird regards and responds to its environment differently than we do as humans. We don’t now, and perhaps never will, fully understand their nature.


When I first came to Orlando, I introduced my goffins cockatoo, Theo, to the Womach’s rosebreasted cockatoos and african grey. Theo is smaller than than the other birds and is a bit timid in personality. Sweet and gentle Theo has never bitten anyone, ever – she’s a total marshmallow, and I expected her to come running to me for protection. Imagine my surprise when SHE was the aggressor with the larger birds and had no issues with telling THEM how things were going to be. The Womach birds just rolled their eyes and went about their business.

Parrots of the same species sometimes squabble, just like humans do, and often will simply opt to move away from each other. Different species have different levels of aggression and territorialism and might always regard another species in its cage as an invader. Just as wild birds run off other species that come too close to their nesting site, so might a captive bird.  It isn’t worth the risk.

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65 Comments on “Housing Two Different Species In One Cage”

Jo Anne  03/18/2011 2:56 pm

I have a cocatiel and a quaker together in a large flight cage – they are inseparable, and have been together for over 15 years. They came this way – so it is possible they were raised together (they are rescue birds) If we separate them, they pluck their feathers, and screetch. I realize that this is unusual, and I would not recommend it, even though it works for these 2 birds. I also have 2 African greys, a male and a female that I cannot house together, no matter how large the cage. They get along fine when out of the cage, but the male is very territorial in the cage.

Maureen tweddle  03/18/2011 8:06 pm

ThanK you, thank you, thank you Chet et al for the advice, pro & con about housing birds od different species in the same cage. Really opened my eyes. I currently have a Senegal, a Parrottlet and a Bourkes Parrot and though I would never think of putting another bird in with Pina, I had considered getting a new larger flight cage for the little birds Pip &Peaches. They are currently in separate cages, side by side, and seemed to get along so well, often sitting at the end of their cages and chatting away endlessly. Neither seems particularly aggressive so though I might free up some space by getting a new cage for both, but not now. I will happily live with the lack of space and know that my girls are safe and happy, each with their own home, but able to talk and see each other as they wish. No toes going missing here! Thanks again for the very timely article and to all who sent comments. I have learned so much here. I am very grateful.

Gin Cowen  03/18/2011 9:04 pm

I too recently adopted a goffin. My b/g macaw will go into his cage and close the door! My african grey congo will back off but, play tag and the timneh will agressively chase him! Does anyone else have a goffin who thinks he’s a kickboxer? My friends think I should put a little black silk ribbon on him cuz he thinks he’s karate’ kid! The advice is right on, make sure you want the jack russel terrier of parrots before getting a goffin! They definitely are high maintainence and high energy kids!! And mine all have their own cages and only have SUPERVISED out of cage play! You can’t be too careful!

Carol  03/19/2011 9:12 pm

We have a 5 year old Moustache Parrot (does a long tail really make him a parakeet?) who is flighted, and has the run of the house unless I’m gone. Then he goes back in his cage so he won’t get into trouble. Our avian vet offered us a young rescued budgie, smaller cage included. After a week of Henry’s beak being bent out of joint …with this small stranger in the house, he began to take interest. I began to let the budgie, Pip, out as well. Before I knew it, they were fast friends. Buddies! Henry even ventured into Pip’s little cage – he could hardly turn around, but he wanted to be with Pip. It’s been six months, and when one files, they both fly! When one lands on my head, they both do! When I put Herny in his big cage for the night, Pip follows him in. They sleep together, get into trouble together, like two little pilgrims seeing what they can explore next. They are so funny! Everything Henry does, Pip does, too! Henry chases Pip off his rope sometimes, and Pip pecks at Henry’s feet sometimes. They’re like brother and sister. They seem to have a quite balanced, agreeable understanding, and they love each other’s company! They keep us laughing most of the time. (And thanks Chet for your great training info! – I just potty-trained Henry in two days!)

m  03/21/2011 8:24 am

should u put any 2 birds in the same cage

Rommy  03/21/2011 1:19 pm

I have a rainbow lorikeet and a lovebird couple.
They live in two huge cages and one day I just opened the side doors of both cages,
So they could visit each other.
The lori even feeds and is being fed by the male lovebird.
Going great since more than a year.

direbs  03/21/2011 5:13 pm

I have a Senagal and a love bird that cohabit, and have done so for 2 years. They had their own cages, but refused to stay within them. There have been a couple of nips and they occasionaly squabble, but spend a lot of time out the cage too. I discussed it with my avian vet before accepting it. The lovebird is a flirt and is tolerated by my amazon, who is a sweetie, however the senagal is so jealous that it cannot be let out with the amazon, and will try to bite through the cage. The comments do concern me however and have given me fod for thought.

Georgia Anderson, Florida  03/30/2011 11:11 am

I have two parrots 1. Quaker named Coco 2. A Myers named Gidget. Body wise they are about the same size until it comes to the tail. Coco has a long tail Gidget does not. Temprament wise they couldn’t be more different. Coco doesn’t trust people except for me and my sister. Gidget trusts anyone but Hates me and Coco. Everytime she gets anywhere close to me or Coco she becomes agressive. She has climbed up the curtains behind Coco’s cage and almost bit off one of her toes. She wasn’t even aware that Gidget had stalked her. She was just playing in her nest. Oh by the way, they are only about 6 months apart in age. Gidget will go to anyone in the mobile home park except me. She loves to ride around the park on my husband’s mobility scooter. She becomes agressive when I change her water, food or clean her cage or am just talking to her. I’m okay with this. My husband can handle her but he does none of the chores. I have never done anything to acquire the status with her that I have but she sees me a threat I do not know why. So this demonstrates that even birds of the same size cannot be trusted together without supervision.

Mary Henderson  04/12/2011 12:55 pm

A few years ago, I owned a male cockatiel by the name of Kisser. Whenever anybody was feeling blue, he would attempt to cheer him or her. It did not matter if they were human or birds. I bought my husband a Senegal and he named him Sammy. We thought that it was funny when Sammy would chase Kisser around the room. We like so many other bird owners thought they were playing. Kisser’s cage was always open and Sammy’s was to remain closed. He liked to bite the other birds’ toes off and such. One morning, I looked for Kisser on top of his cage, and no Kisser. I looked over at Sammy’s cage and my husband did not lock the cage completely. I heard Kisser crying “Pretty Bird” but I could not find him. Finally, I found him under the bed. His beck was completely bitten off, his eyes were practically gone, his wings were bitten and he still was able to say “Pretty Bird”. Imagine my anguish! My husband and I took Kisser to the vet and he was put to sleep. I hope this helps just one person. Can we take the chance? Do we actually know what a bird is thinking and is it worth the possibility of this outcome? I still miss Kisser – he was my best pal!

monica  04/26/2011 5:27 am

i have a timney and a congo gray in one cage. It is a very big cage but occasionally the congo will chase the timney around. other than that they stay out of each others way. Seems like they have set their own boundaries

Rosie  05/12/2011 1:41 pm

I have a cockatoo, african grey, and macaw all in one very large cage and they love each. Always kissing each others beaks and scratching each others heads. They have been together since birth and in the same cage for 7 yrs. with no incidents. I think separating them would be a problem since they seem to all be in love with each other and take care of one another. Would appreciate any feed back.

Simonee  12/31/2011 12:18 pm

I agree with this article, but there have been a good amount of birds who got along in the same cage even though they were different speices. I used to have 4 Budgies & I housed them with my GCC, & they never got into fights, ever. However, this does not apply to my GCC & Moustached Parakeet. They are “sisters”, but like us humans, sisters sometimes don’t get along. The best thing I would suggest, is house different speices in different cages. If you are interested in housing 2 speices together, put their cages side by side, & carefully watch their behavior. This is a process that can’t be done in 1 day, you should observe their behavior for months. If they don’t try to attack each other & seem to like each other, you may let them out to play with each other. If they don’t get along, this is a sure sign that musn’t house them together. If they do get along, you may try to house them together for short periods of time, like play dates. You must watch their behavior though, if you see the slightest sign of aggression, take the other bird out. If they continue to be friendly, in & out of their cages, you may house them together, but at your own risk. Some birds may get along with each other one second, & want to kill each other the next second. Birds’ behaviors can change in an instant, despite their prior experiences. I strongly agree with the part of this article that says you must know your birds’ speices aggression & territorialism levels. Also, some speices of birds will get along well if they were raised together, which is in the same case of raising a puppy with a kitten. My overall advice to you is, house different speices in different cages. You just might save your birds’ lives & prevent your own heart breaking.

MJ kinnison  11/13/2013 7:27 am

I am looking for a suitable companion for my hand raised rainbow lorrikeet…. he gets along well with the dog and cat, he is very social i want to give him a freind for when i am at work so he isnt loneley. My husband loves cockatiels but i am worried he may hurt one being the larger bird.

Any thoughts or success storys?

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katy haddy  02/23/2015 7:38 pm

I have two parakeets. each of them are in a different cage. if I put both of them together in the same cage would they kill or hurt each other? the cage isn’t that big though and I cant get another bigger cage until 2 weeks (long story) what should I do? I feel like they would be less lonely but idk help!