Friday, April 26, 2013

How to Sex Your Bird

Note: This post was published on my WP blog previously, some of you may have already read it. 

No, this post is probably not what you had in mind. It’s not always easy to tell the sex of your pet bird just by looking at them. In some species of birds, males and females look just the same. I’m going to tell you how to sex your bird. That is, differentiate between male and female. There are a few ways to do this, depending on the species of the bird. Here are a few examples.

Sexually Dimorphic Birds - How to Sex Your Bird Using Physical Differences

Sexual dimorphism is -
“Distinct difference in size or appearance between the sexes of an animal.”
Many birds are not sexually dimorphic, meaning that the male and female look the same and have no real physical differences as far as appearance is concerned. If your bird is not a sexually dimorphic species, then you will need to learn how to sex your bird by different means which I will list below. Here is a list of birds that have distinct differences between males and females.


Adult male parakeets and female parakeets can typically be identified by the color of their cere. A cere is the band just above a birds beak where their nostrils are found. A female’s cere is usually brown or tan. Sometimes, a female parakeet will have a slightly crusty cere.
Male parakeets have a blue cere. Although, it can be hard in some cases to tell the difference between the two because the ceres sometimes appear as a pinkish and bluish iridescent color.
Female Parakeet vs. Male Parakeet


Female cockatiels have a more striped appearance on their tail feathers, in general. They are also more quiet than male cockatiels. A male cockatiel is usually more vocal. These differences are just guidelines and are not a definite answer.

Other Sexually Dimorphic Birds

There’s the eclectus parrot, which is very easy to tell boy from girl. See for yourself in the pictures below.
A female eclectus is red and blue/purple with a black beak. Photo via belgianchocolate

A male eclectus is mostly green with a bright “candy corn” beak.Photo via chriswsonic357

Indian ringneck parakeets also look very different from male to female.
A female Indian Ringneck parakeet has a very subtle ring around her neck as opposed to the male. Photo via Eric C Bryan
A male Indian Ringneck parakeet has a very distinct ring around his neck. Photo via Eric C Bryan

Does Your Bird Lay Eggs?

Even if a female bird lives alone and does not have a mate, she can still lay eggs. If your bird lays an egg, or several, then it’s obvious that they are a girl. Simple enough! Some female birds may never lay an egg during their entire lifetime, which can leave you a long time guessing. Fortunately, there is another option on how to tell if your bird is a boy or girl.

DNA Sexing

This is actually the best way to identify the sex of your bird. It only takes a tiny amount of blood. Knowing if your bird is female or male can be helpful later on in their  life if they are having reproductive problems. It can help you to discourage egg laying – an unwanted and potentially dangerous behavior for female birds. I’ll have to discuss that topic another day.
Most bird owners who opted for DNA sexing were just curious to know. Others I’ve worked with had lived with their pet 15+ years and never really knew definitively what sex their bird was. Did you know how to sex your bird? 


  1. I always thought you could just flip a bird over and look at its privates. This is a neat article, but how would egg laying be harmful to a female?

    1. They can become egg-bound which is when the egg gets stuck inside of them... not fun. A lot of pet birds eat a diet that's insufficient in vitamins and minerals and that can make their eggs soft which also can cause problems when they are trying to lay an egg.

  2. Aw man. I really want to be able to tell the difference between the hens and roos. I have ten chicks that are eight weeks old. I definitely have two roosters, since they had combs at about three weeks, and Frodo has been trying to crow since four weeks. But the other eight - I'm hoping they're all hens, but can't be sure yet.

    1. Chickens are easier, but I guess not when they are so young.

  3. forgives uz if we pazz on de commints on thiz post...ewe guys noe why !!!

    we will say hope everee one haza grate week oh end !!!

  4. WOW. That is so fascinating! Thank you for sharing this really interesting post. :)

  5. Well, you may not know this but I have to share my house with a Blue-Fronted Amazon named Corky (however, Corky says he/she shares the house with me because he/she was here first - whatever.).

    Unfortunately, we have no idea what sex Corky is...we tell Corky he is a "good boy" and now we hope he is a boy because he says "Are you a good boy? I'm a good boy." It is strange though, Corky has never laid an egg but boy when it is Springtime and Daddy-dog is around, he squats down and makes all kinds of weird noises like he is going to lay an egg. Yikes!

    *Cairn cuddles*

    1. Lol - I do remember you saying that you had an amazon. Birds are really weird and actually pretty sexual creatures... it's really crazy... male or female. I've met a lot of people like you who don't really know what sex their bird is and just kind of make a guess.

  6. What an interesting post! At least the parakeets are prety easy to tell now :0 0- thanks and hope you have a great Friday!

  7. Thanks for this information :o) As my mom was a puppy her BFF told her that all blue parakeets are boys and the green are girls... both were totally baffled as they saw a yellow and a white parakeet...silly girls :o)

  8. I didn't have my cockatiel DNA tested and over the years different vets told me different reasons they thought he was a different sex than what the last vet had told me. It was quite a merry-go-round. Fortunately his name was Bobbi so it didn't matter which sex we guessed he was from year to year. And, yes, we finally settled on he because he sang a male mating song. Obviously, my cockatoo was DNA sexed immediately so I didn't have to get on that uncertainty merry-go-round again!

    1. Cockatiels are kind of iffy... there are some things that might tell you what sex they are, but they aren't for sure I suppose. Very cool that you got your cockatoo DNA tested though!

  9. I have a quacker parrot and have always assumed him a male. Any tips on how to tell without an expensive and stressful trip to the vet?

    1. Hi Emily, I have no tips for quakers sorry :( Taking him to the vet won't be so bad. He'll get used to going and you'll be helping him live a long healthy life!


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