Sexing Cockatiel

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Know Your Cockatiel Articles















Cockatiel sex: How do we know

    Sexing Cockatiel is easy compared to sexing other type of parrot (with the exception of Eclectus Parrot, some subspecies of Lovebird and Parakeet) There are Several way to verify the sex of Cockatiel. It range from the scientific method which is costly until the physical observation method which is “free”. However, you have to learn how to observe the bird to do this.

Chromosomol Karyotyping

       This type of sexing method is very accurate and it is very easy. All you need is just a blood sample from the bird. You can get the blood sample by pluck one ‘young’ feather from the birds. This method is very useful because it avoid stress and it can be done even the bird is very young. However, the test is somehow still expensive.


DNA sexing

       DNA sexing have many advantage, it not just check sex of the cockatiel but also will enable us to know or check the health of the cockatiel. There are some company that give this service. I haven't use their service (because I think it is not necessary to check sex of cockatiel using this expensive method). However, if you have expensive birds like Macaw (which is very difficult to know their sex, then I think you can consider this method as one of the option. Check out the link page for the company that offer this service.

Surgical Sexing

      This method is very useful and effective. However, this method will stress the birds because it require lots of handling and it also require anesthesia. This method require special equipment and has to be conduct by the specialist or experience vet. This method well not only checking the sex of the bird, but the vet will able to check the “readiness” of the bird; say whether the birds is fit for breeding program. However, since this method is looking directly to their sex organ, this method is only suitable for adult bird.


Observing the plumage

       This method is also accurate for sexing Cockatiel. However since the Cockatiel will only start changing it plumage at 6 until 8 month old, this method is useful for Cockatiel which is older only. One more problem for this is that this method is only “easy” for grey colour Cockatiel. For other mutation colour, this method will require observation with higher skill. I will describe some key criteria of this method for the grey Cockatiel. First part that you should check is their face. For normal gray cockatiel, the male Cockatiel will have yellow plumage in the face and also red colour skin. While for female her face is grey and the red colour in the chin is not so obvious. This is the best place to check and the different is so obvious, which make sexing Cockatiel is easy (for grey Cockatiel). The second part that you can check to confirm is their tail. For grey male cockatiel, their tail will have only one colour which is dark grey. However, for a female, were some barred underneath their tail. This mean that their tail is not totally grey but will have yellow like strip. This type of colour also will occurred at their wing feather (but it is not obvious and you have to hold her to check the wings.



      This method is based on my experience with my Cockatiel (please note that other breeder may think otherwise). Normally male Cockatiel will tend to be more noisy and he is more likely to whistle compared to female. Cockatiel from my observation some type of whistle or call will only produce by a male Cockatiel. This is very obvious during breeding season.


Bone structure

      This method is only suitable for experience person only and it may not very accurate compare to other method. This method is by comparing the “space” between the hip bone of the bird. For a female, they will have more space for the purpose of laying egg compare to a make bird. However, I think this method is not necessary for sexing Cockatiel.


Check the egg

       Male egg and female egg is different. However, it just a note here as. I think only breeder will have access to this, and of cause I believe that a breeder will be able to know the sex of their Cockatiel very well. However, for your note, actually there are different for a "male" egg and 'female" egg. Normally, for male one end of the egg is "sharper" and look longer compared to female which look "rounder".


I hope this simple guide can help you in some way. Wish you best of luck with your Cockatiel!  



Cockatiel Books and Video Tapes from Avian Publications

The Complete Pet Bird Owner's Handbook (Revised Edition) by Dr. Gary A. Gallerstein

Avian Medicine: Principles and Application (Abridged Edition) by Dr. Branson Ritchie, Dr. Greg Harrison, Linda Harrison & Dr. Donald W. Zantop

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November 2003