You have bought your new little parakeet home, and the children are planning a name for him and they ask if he is a boy or a girl?
This causes you to pause as you hadn’t thought about how to tell if a parakeet is male or female. However, there are a few ways of determining the sex of a parakeet, and today we will take a look at how to tell the difference.
How to Sex a Parakeet
There are several different ways to determine the sex of your bird, and the appearance of the bird can be important in doing this, part of the process involves looking at the physical differences between the male and female bird.
If you are an experienced bird owner this is the fastest method of telling the difference, but it may not be 100% accurate.
What is a Parakeet?
A parakeet comprises about 115 species of bird, a small bird that eats seeds. The Australian budgerigar also called a budgie is a common parakeet and is kept as a pet all over the world. A large species of bird are referred to as parakeets, and another favorite is the Australian rosella.
The parakeet will often breed in groups, however, in captivity breeders may choose to breed the birds in pairs to avoid any conflict this way breeders know the parents of the birds which is important to the breeder who often sells them to clients. Asking the breeder how to tell if a parakeet is male or female is a good idea.
Expert Tip: Parakeets can produce up to 8 eggs and may hatch four chicks. You should not handle a newborn parakeet, as they are very delicate and tiny and should be left to the care of the parent bird.
Different Ways to Tell the Sex of a Parakeet
This is done by obtaining a sample of eggshells or feathers from the bird to determine the sex of the bird. This contains the DNA sample from your bird and it will give you a conclusive answer.
The test is done in a laboratory where the chromosomes are read as ZZ for a male or ZW for a female, naturally, there is a cost attached to this test, but it will solve the problem conclusively.
Sometimes a blood sample is taken, but this is stressful for the bird. Feather sexing is a better option and requires a freshly plucked feather from the bird for testing.
Is a surgical procedure that is invasive to the bird, it allows an avian vet to view the internal structure of the bird’s organs, including the reproductive organs showing male or female characteristics. This is fast and accurate and will reveal any other health issues.
The Parakeet Sex Detemination
This is interesting as both the male and female are impossible to tell apart until they are one year old. The color of the cere of the parakeet is thought to be determined by estrogen, and by the time the bird is one year old the color of the female bird changes.
Both birds’ features will become more distinct as they get older. The baby parakeet has black eyes, and at about 8 months of age, the color will fade to brown or gray.
The cere is a band of fleshy skin located above the bird’s nostrils. The male is often pink or blue and the female has a light blue. tan. or white cere. As mentioned studies show that the color is estrogen determined and visually this changes with the male having a darker color than the female.
When the female is ready to breed her cere may turn brown, however, this does not always happen, and if in doubt you may need a DNA test. Foot Color and Sex Hormones, the foot color is affected by sex hormones in both male and female birds.
Once they mature at 12 months of age the male will have feet and legs that are the same color as their cere often bright blue. Where the female will have legs and feet that are brown or pink. The color change is gradual. By then the male will have a larger physical structure and the females will be smaller.
Male birds of any species always have brighter plumage than the females whose colors are often dull in comparison. By then, how to tell if a parakeet is male or female will probably become more obvious, but it may be too long to wait.
The female parakeet lays the eggs, and this is usually during the spring. Some female budgies may fail to lay eggs, and this can be confusing to the owner. The most simple reason is they may be too old or too young. The male is also noisier than the female chirping or singing for a long time. Chattering noises are indicative of mating.
In the wild the parakeets are territorial, and when they breed, the adolescents have to leave to establish their territory before the next nesting season comes around. The experts say that lorikeets are more nomadic than territorial, and tend to partner with the same male/female every year.
They also feed in pairs, and when they find a source of food, like people who feed wild birds with seed trays, they will return to it. From this information, it appears that they are territorial, but can become nomadic when the food source is not available.
Expert Tip: Feeding on seed trays in the wild is not recommended, as parakeets in the wild should not be encouraged to become dependent on humans.
In the USA and UK half, the households practice bird feeding, and in the harsh winters of the northern hemisphere, it is probably necessary for their survival.
The male constantly bobs his head up and down or taps his beak on the cage. The female may be aggressive when she is ready to nest. With the right care, your parakeet can live for 20 years in captivity. So you will need to determine the sex of the bird early.
So if you look at the cere in your parakeet, you will probably see a distinct striping pattern, as parakeets don’t always conform to the cere rule. If you are in the pet store picking up your new budgie, you may have decided that you want a male or a female.
If the bird is still young, look for whitish rings around the nostrils, a bird who has whitish rings is always a female. Unfortunately, the absence of whitish rings does not necessarily mean that the bird is a male, it may just mean that the rings haven’t developed yet or may never develop. On the other hand, a female’s cere will never turn to a dark blue, but will always be light in color.
Choosing Your Male or Female Budgie
You may want a male budgie, as males are more relaxed and sociable, and this makes them easier to train. Females budgies are quieter and more territorial and sometimes aggressive when nesting. However, you can train them, so why not get two and breed them at home, as they are interesting pets to observe.
The female budgie makes the nest to create a warm space to lay her eggs. In the wild, this will often be in a tree hollow in your house she will tear up paper and bedding to create a nest. So think about providing a nest for her to lay her eggs.
Occasionally the female budgie may bite you. especially if you are near the nest, or cleaning out the cage. This is because she is used to defending her young and her space. You can train her not to bite you and to display less protective behavior. It is best to only have one female budgie as more females will fight over their space.
The male will talk and sing to impress his partner, and they tend to mimic one another’s calls. When the female calls to him. he will mimic the sounds closely, females remember and prefer the calls of their mate. After you have had them for a while and studied their behavior it will become clear how to tell if a parakeet is male or female.
The Female Budgie and Aggression
The female budgie is biologically aggressive to defend her young. They also display other hormonal behaviors like being stressed. If it fails to find a mate, it may lay unfertilized eggs anyway.
When hormonal issues occur, reduce the amount of daylight that your female is exposed to, for example, cover the cage an hour earlier. This will enable the behavior to normalize.
Budgies, like people, can take a dislike to one another and some budgies are not compatible. If you find this happening in your cage, consider rehoming one of them, or alternately separate them into different cages.
The Male Budgie
The male can also become aggressive when unhappy, and this can occur through a lack of stimulation. There is no difference in size between the male and female budgie, if you notice a large budgie, they are probably a different breed. English budgies are twice the size of other budgies.
Budgies can now live from 8 to 10 years, providing they get the right food and are well cared for. Some are quick learners and easily trained, while others are not.
Some budgies will break their eggs, and you need to look at the diet to see that they are having the right nutrients, as this behavior sometimes happens when they are deprived of the necessary seeds and feeds.
If you have any more questions about this, you may want to ask them, as there are several reasons why this may occur. It could simply be that they are vitamin and mineral deficient.
Hatching The Eggs
When the female lays the eggs, she needs to keep them warm and they ultimately hatch between 18 to 23 days.
There will normally be between 4-8 eggs and once the egg or eggs begins to hatch, any egg unhatched after 23 days is not going to produce a chicken. A single female budgie will lay infertile eggs as there is no male to fertilize them, and biologically she is programmed to breed.
Expert Tip: Young budgies may not be successful in their first mating attempts. The hen may not incubate them, or the male bird could be infertile.
How to Tell if a Parakeet is Male or Female
The female parakeet can usually be easily identified once mature by checking the color of her cere which is light blue, tan, or white, and the color of the feet brown or pink. While the male has a bright blue or pink cere and brighter plumage on maturity at one year of age.
When waiting for an egg to hatch, and are unsure of its status, try candling the egg. This is done by shining a bright torch on it. rather than using a candle. Do not pick the egg up. The torchlight shows the inside of the egg and you will see the outline of the chick inside.
If you merely see a shape without any red lines the egg is not viable, as the chick is dead. If the hen rejects an egg, it probably means that the chick is dead, this behavior is instinctive in birds and animals.
Budgies make great pets and good pets for children, as long as they are adequately supervised and monitored in their care of the birds. They need the opportunity to exercise and fly around the room. They will learn to mimic speech and some even learn a few words when properly instructed in talking.
I recently observed a Corella that spoke just the same way as his owner, so you must be careful what you say to them, as one of his words was clear and inappropriate. Once you become confident in feeding and handling them, you may want to breed them.