You recently bought a new pet parakeet and you enjoy its company in your home. However, before giving your feathered friend a name, you don’t know what gender it is. You will be pleased to know that the general process of how to sex a parakeet isn’t difficult at all. Here’s how to do it.
How to sex a parakeet?
There are many ways to do it, and some ways are more precise than others. If parakeet sexing is performed on juvenile birds or on adult birds that are non-pigmented or ambiguously-pigmented, including albinos, lutinos, recessive-pied variants, or diluted color parakeets, then more complicated methods may be necessary, such as DNA feather or avian sexing, or endoscopic surgical sexing.
There is technically no wrong way in how to sex parakeet birds, but there are several different ways to choose from, and they don’t all have to be used at the same time. If you want to get technical in how to tell the sex of a parakeet, then you should consider getting a blood sample of your pet parakeet.
However, you won’t be equipped to obtain the sample yourself. A veterinarian will need to obtain the sample, and it will be analyzed for both sexing and for possible genetic diseases.
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Appearances of a bird can be critical when determining what its gender is. How to tell if a parakeet is a male or female can be tricky if your pet parakeet hasn’t yet reached the age of 1 year.
It is recommended not to handle newborn parakeets if it can be avoided. Sexual dimorphism generally refers to physical structure and size and/or the external appearance that is found in both male and female birds of the same species.
Part of visual sexing requires you to spot the physical differences in male and female birds. There are positives and negatives to visual sexing. One big positive is that visual sexing is the fastest and easiest method to use, though it may not be the most precise.
One thing to keep in mind, which can be a bad thing if you don’t have the experience, is that the feather coloration alone doesn’t determine the genders of parakeets. Males can have blue feathers and females can have green feathers. Later in this article, we will teach you how to sex a budgie by way of visual sexing.
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Obtaining blood samples is just one part of DNA sexing, and it is a preferred sexing method for breeders who want to know for sure the gender of birds before they are paired together.
DNA sexing also features obtaining feather or eggshell samples to determine the sex of a bird. Your pet budgie’s DNA samples contain the nucleated cells of your bird, which means the blueprint of your budgie’s DNA foundation is already in place.
At a laboratory, a bird’s DNA cells are extracted, amplified, and combined with special DNA markers that are specific towards breed and sex that will detect whether the DNA sample contains ZZ sex chromosomes (parakeet gender is male) or ZW chromosomes (parakeet sex is female).
DNA results are then sent back to the veterinarian or straight to the bird’s owner. If you decide on this parakeet sexing method, make sure the collection of your parakeet’s DNA, feathers, blood, or eggshells, is performed with sufficient care to reduce stress.
Feather sexing is considerably safer and less stressful to do than blood sexing, though feathers must be freshly plucked instead of using fallen feathers. Eggshell sexing, which is useful in parakeet breeding colonies, is much less stressful than both blood and feather sexing.
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Also known as surgical sexing, this requires the bird to be placed under an anesthetic so that an endoscope could be inserted through the skin and into the abdominal air sacs of the bird.
An endoscope is a long and thin rod containing fiber-optic imaging equipment set into the shaft that enables visualization of the bird’s internal organ structures.
The air sacs of the bird are large chambers of air with transparent, very thin, membranous walls. Using the endoscope, the entire organ system of the bird’s abdominal cavity becomes visible, and this includes the bird’s reproductive organs.
If you allow your pet budgie to go under the endoscope, the veterinarian can determine if it’s a male budgie or a female budgie.
Advantages in endoscopic sexing include it being fast and accurate to perform if am experienced veterinarian is handling it. An examination doesn’t depend on the bird being mature. The endoscope allows other organs to be viewed, which may lead to discovering any health issues.
However, for disadvantages, endoscopy is more costly to pet owners than DNA sexing, and there are numerous risks to the bird’s health, such as rib fractures, internal organ trauma, hemorrhage, peritonitis (internal abdominal cavity infection) and airsacculitis (air sac infection), so take great caution.
How to determine the sex of a parakeet?
Step 1. Is your parakeet over 12 months old?
Male and female parakeets are indistinguishable until 1 year of age. Before this age, the cere of male and female parakeets are the same color, either a bright pink or a soft purple. The cere color should not be the main factor in how to tell a parakeet’s gender.
Age and sex characteristics of parakeets are closely linked. Their features will become more distinct as they get older. There are many ways to tell how old your parakeet is, and one way is to check their eyes. Baby parakeets have deep black eyes that are usually kept until 4 months of age.
When they get closer to 8 months old, the irises of parakeets will fade to a dark gray or brown color. When turning 1 year old parakeets will usually have irises that are of a light gray or brown color. It is a steady aging process just by looking at a parakeet’s eyes.
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Step 2. The color of the cere
One way how to tell the gender of a parakeet is to check its cere, the band of raised fleshy skin located above the nostrils. The male parakeet has a cere that is either a pink, blue, or purplish-blue color.
The female parakeet has a cere that is either white, light tan, or light blue. If you are curious as to how to use the visual sexing method properly, pay attention to the colors of parakeet ceres. These colors differ between male and female parakeets, and they are quite distinctive. Males are more likely to have darker ceres, whereas females tend to retain lighter colors.
Diluted colored male parakeets, including albinos and lutinos, may not have their ceres change the color that much when they reach maturity and may keep their juvenile pink ceres. When a female is ready to mate, her cere color becomes a rich, dark brown, and will often flaky in texture.
Step 3. The color of the feet
You will be able to tell how parakeets are maturing in age, particularly after they reach 12 months of age, by looking at the legs and feet of your feathered friend. The cere of a parakeet is not the only visible body part that is affected by sex hormones.
You will also see these hormones at work on the skin of the legs and feet of a parakeet. Mature male parakeets over the age of 12 months have feet and legs that closely resemble their cere, a bright blue color. Mature female parakeets over the age of 12 months have feet and legs that are either pink or brown in color.
It is the same principle you apply to the feet and legs as you would to the cere. Over a period of time, until it completely matures, the changes in a parakeet’s feet and legs will gradually change, but not instantly.
Step 4. The body and head
Remember that sexual dimorphism relates to the differences in physical structure and external appearances between male and female birds. This is where your eyes will be trained to spot such differences. Healthy and mature male parakeets are typically larger in size and weight compared to female parakeets.
Males are also stronger and have a larger physical structure than females. When you pair them up side by side, the parakeet that has the larger head is the male. Sometimes the size of the male may be artificially reduced due to malnourishment, stunting, or inbreeding. Another clue when properly sexing budgies is found in the body feathers.
Male parakeets often have much more vibrant colors in their body feathers than females. However, there will be some parakeets that have naturally muted, or non-vibrant, feather colors. These parakeets are either inbred or contain non-wild-type feather colors, which include albino, lutino, sky blue, pale yellow, light green, or cinnamon colors.
Step 5. Egg laying
As is the case with all bird species, only female budgies lay eggs. Relatively soon after they mate, female parakeets will lay their eggs, and they will usually start laying eggs during the spring season. Females will lay their eggs with or without the male parakeet being present.
It isn’t unusual for eggs to be laid every other day until all eggs have been laid. However, it should be noted that the absence of egg-laying does not make your pet parakeet a male. There are many reasons why female budgies fail to produce eggs. One reason is age, as they are either too young or too old.
Other reasons include malnutrition, egg-binding, uterine disorders, which are not discovered until procedures like endoscopy occur, ovarian disease, reproductive tract infections, and various stressors. Each clutch of eggs a female budgie has is usually anywhere from 4 to 8 eggs, although it can vary.
Step 6. The noise
Parakeets are one of the loudest birds you will hear in the parrot family. Happy parakeets will typically be either singing songs, talking, or mimicking sounds they often hear. When you pit a male vs. female parakeet when comparing noises, it is no contest. Males are far noisier than females.
Males are more likely to chirp or sing songs for long periods of time. Female parakeets also make noises, though they usually sound angry and less musical in comparison. Parakeets regularly make noise throughout the course of a day. Not all parakeet chirps are disruptive, but even with quieter chirps, parakeets will make noises whenever they want to be heard.
Be mindful of all the different noises parakeets make. If a parakeet makes chattering noises, then it is likely a male trying to court a female. However, parakeets also chatter at their own reflection. Chattering is different compared to chirping and singing.
Step 7. The behavior
There are many ways for parakeets to communicate with other birds and humans. If you are a first-time parakeet owner, the communication tactics of your pet can be confusing. The body language of a parakeet is fairly easy to read.
Properly reading a parakeet’s behavior can help you put your budgie in the right place in the parakeet gender chart. The male budgie constantly bobs his head up and down or will tap his beak against the cage. The appearance of this is playful and outgoing.
The female budgie may appear more aggressive if she is in the mood to mate, or if she is subdued or fertile. If a male regurgitates his food, especially towards a female, don’t worry. This is a normal bonding behavior that is a prelude to the birds mating. Male parakeets will sing songs prior to mating. Females will act flustered and bossy and will make loud noises, but will refrain from singing.