Before we get into the hows, whys and wherefores of DNA sexing let’s talk about the species of birds and parrots that do not need anything other than eyeballs to determine their sex.
About 20% of parrots and parakeets are consider sexually dimorphic meaning you can tell the bird’s sex by its color.
male eclectus parrots are green – females are red
That still leaves about 600 species of birds whose sex you can’t determine without DNA testing or performing surgery (surgical sexing).
The new beard-cockatiel-preening-toy-style-thing has presented some challenges. I’ve literally had short hair for the past half a century and suddenly I have a 4 inch long beard that I need to deal with in the morning.
Catherine is blessed with naturally curly hair and one of her very few extravagances is Paul Mitchell’s “The Cream” which sells for $18.50 at Ulta (before the cashier feels sorry for me and gives me a $3.00 off coupon). With the two of us using it now we go through about a tube a month
Let’s get the small talk out of the way.
Does a bird have to be a certain age to be DNA sexed?
Feathered factoid: From birth to death, DNA remains the same across all species, so there is no age range for the most accurate results. What is DNA? This acronym stands for Deoxyribo-Nucleic-Acid. It is a long, complex molecule carrying information in the form of a chemical code and dictates how the body and cells should form.
We’ve gotten a lot of blowback in social media specially Facebook about the supposed “alpha male myth”. My response is, anyone who has captained a dogsled team as I had for many years in the past can see, feel, rely and go to sleep at night knowing that your lead sled dog is an alpha male. Anyone who has tried to retrieve an alpha male Green winged macaw from the top of a 7 foot tall bird cage knows exactly what I’m talking about.
male ringnecks have a ring – females do not
Conversely a gestating female bird has her body redirecting caloric energy to the reproductive system while calcium is depleted as eggs are being produced. You end up with less than stellar looking feathers but you don’t know why because you may not be seeing any eggs. If it’s winter her resistance is lower making her more susceptible to bacterial infections (think poop water).
Your bird is also expecting a flock dynamic which is much different than a bunch of humans sitting around tapping out gibberish into small rectangular pieces of glass and metal.
Look me in the monitor and tell me that not knowing if you have a male or female bird is of no consequence? I will tell you that knowing the sex of your bird will set you up for success.
healthy adult female budgies have a brownish cere (nose area)
male budgies usually have a bluish cere
With a swagger you stand up and shout “but my bird laid no eggs in 10 years it’s got to be a male!” Is that so? Is it at all possible because your bird’s wings are clipped and it’s stuck in the cage 12 hours a day and you neglected to weigh it – ever that it is in fact producing eggs but…….
is it possible that the eggs left the ovary but didn’t make it to the oviduct because your bird is fat and that fat is hidden under all those beautiful feathers so the eggs are consistently absorbed directly into the body and never ending on the floor of the cage? Turns out it happens – alot.
Feathered factoid: a bird’s ovary sits over it’s left leg so if in an egg gets stuck you may see the bird raising her left leg as an indication that she needs help.
As a teenager did you ever have a crush on someone? Is it possible your bird may have a “crush” on you? How helpful would be to know if you had a boy bird or girl bird?
For less than a tube of (Paul Mitchell The Cream) hair goo, you can know with 100% certainty the sex of your parrot. Tell me again why knowing this information has no importance to you meaning you’ll lack the ability to responsibly raise and train him……….or………..her?
It will make you a better cage bird keeper.
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing
sexing chickens is a whole nother story