Dying to know the sex of your new bird? This article will help you identify the sex of your cockatiel – male or female.
If you are planning to get a cockatiel, you might be curious about how to differentiate between males and females.
If you are an experienced bird owner, you’d know that the sex of your pet bird matters a lot.
Now, sexing cockatiels can sometimes be a little tricky. For the regular gray cockatiels, this isn’t a big problem as the males and females display certain distinctive characteristics.
However, some of the cockatiel mutations have little or no difference between the males and females.
In this article, I explore several facets of cockatiel sexing, both physical and behavioral.
How To Tell a Cockatiels Gender By Physical Attributes
Several physical differences between male and female cockatiels can help with gender identification, as long as it’s not a color mutation in which both sexes have the same appearance. Major visual cues in this regard include:
In the case of the gray cockatiel and several mutations, it’s possible to identify a cockatiel’s gender by looking at its tail.
An adult female has alternating stripes on the underside of its tail feathers.
The stripes can have many patterns: gray & white, yellow and gray, or alternating bands of light and dark gray.
In males, the stripes are missing altogether. You should note that this method works only for adult cockatiels because juveniles of both sexes have such tail markings.
Many of these beautiful birds also have dots and irregular patterns instead of stripes.
The tail markings can sometimes be very faint, requiring you to hold the feathers up against a light before you can see them.
The facial appearance of cockatiels changes after their first molt. The males develop bright yellow faces with distinct bright orange cheek patches.
In female cockatiels, the orange spots are lighter. Their faces aren’t as bright and colorful either – usually gray or a muted yellow.
In some cockatiel mutations, the males are devoid of cheek spots altogether.
However, the females may have faint cheek spots of the same color as their body plumage. This mostly applies to white-faced mutations.
In certain cockatiel breeds, only the males get a new facial appearance by molting. The females retain the juvenile face – usually brown or gray.
The body plumage of a cockatiel might give away its gender too. In a type of cockatiel with gray feathers, the males display a darker shade of gray than the females.
This method is relatively less reliable, especially for non-gray mutations.
As for mutations that are devoid of gray altogether, there are sometimes other differences in the plumage.
For instance, male pearl cockatiels lose their white dots after the first molt whereas these markings remain in the females.
You may also find faint yellow spots on the underside of the wings of females of some cockatiel mutations.
Generally speaking, female cockatiels change very little in their appearance after molting and look somewhat similar to juveniles.
The males are the ones that undergo clear changes, including physical characteristics that aid in sexing them.
Identifying the gender of young cockatiels can be near impossible as they look similar regardless of their sex. This is why it’s the adult coloration that matters.
Difference Between Male and Female Cockatiels By Mutation
As I mentioned earlier, the selective breeding of cockatiels has made gender identification a bit difficult.
There are at least 18 cockatiel mutations out there of different colors and patterns.
The differentiating characteristics found in the common gray cockatiel are missing in several cockatiel mutations.
Let’s find out how you can differentiate the males and females in different breeds of cockatiels.
A male wild cockatiel features a yellow head, and its tail feathers are devoid of stripes or spots. The females have tail spots, and their heads are usually gray.
In the juvenile stage, both male and female pearlies have pearled markings.
The females retain these markings even after attaining maturity, but the males lose them after the first molt or two.
However, male pied pearlies might not lose all their pearl markings.
This variation of cockatiels look very similar to wild/regular gray cockatiels and displays similar sexing differences too.
However, you can’t differentiate them by the cheek patches as this feature is missing in yellowface cockatiels. Other visual differences, like tail markings, still apply.
Devoid of the yellow pigment, male whiteface cockatiels have white heads. The females have gray heads and tail markings, of which the latter is absent in males.
You can easily identify female lutinos by their spots. These are present both beneath the wings and on the underside of their tails.
However, these markings can often be very hard to spot unless you hold up the white feathers in front of a strong light. Male lutino cockatiels do not have any such markings.
Now, this white bird is a type of cockatiel in which it’s impossible to differentiate between the males and the females visually.
Albino cockatiels of both sexes look exactly identical.
There are several pied cockatiel variations created by cross-breeding with other mutations like lutino or pearl cockatiels.
Whether and how you can differentiate a pied cockatiel depends on the specific breed in question.
In some variations, the males have dark tails with no markings, while the females have striped tails. The facial colors may vary too.
Pastleface cockatiels possess similar visual differences as wild cockatiels when it comes to gender identification.
However, the cheek patches of the males aren’t much brighter than the females.
Olive, cinnamon, fallow, silver, and emerald cockatiels
All these five cockatiel mutations can be sexed based on the same characteristics as wild cockatiels.
Hence, it’s quite easy to determine the gender of your cockatiel if it’s one of these breeds.
That covers the different cockatiel mutations that you might come across. As you can see, it can be a bit difficult with some mutations. For the rest, it’s relatively easy.
Cockatiel Male or Female: Difference In Behavior and Personality
The physical appearance of a cockatiel isn’t the only way to determine its gender. Its behavior and personality can also give you a clue.
Let’s now explore how a cockatiel’s behavior can help determine its sex.
Like most species, male and female cockatiels behave differently during the mating season. The females simply droop down their wings and create cooing noises with their rear ends raised.
The males, on the other hand, get very active and start singing and whistling, frequently lifting their wings.
They also strut around a lot, with their chests puffed out. Male cockatiels might try to mate with toys and other objects.
Reaction to their reflection
When a cockatiel sees its reflection in a mirror, it assumes the latter to be another cockatiel.
However, while the females quickly lose interest in their reflections, the males tend to become fascinated.
They usually flirt with the reflection but might act aggressively if they suspect it to be a rival.
Whether your cockatiel vocalizes frequently can help you identify its gender too.
During the early stages of their life cycle, it doesn’t matter as young and juvenile cockatiels don’t vocalize a lot, regardless of their gender.
Once they are older than six months, however, male cockatiels begin singing, whistling, and mimicking various sounds, including human speech.
The females can do the same, but they are much quieter and don’t vocalize as often. Besides, male cockatiels are much better at singing and mimicking speech.
Between male and female cockatiels, the former is much more outgoing and curious. They are never shy and always try to draw attention to themselves.
You’ll generally find male cockatiels trying to spend time with you and moving to the part of the cage with the most activity.
Contrarily, female cockatiels are much shyer and more reserved.
Unlike the males, they tend to stay away from noise and activity and are often ready to fly away if they face a threat.
However, they like people too and love cuddling up on the shoulder of their loved ones.
This is a behavior seen exclusively in male cockatiels. Especially during the mating season, they raise their wings to create a shape that looks like a heart from behind.
To summarize, male cockatiels are always more attention-seeking, active, and interactive. The females are calmer and tend to hold back.
While a female cockatiel enjoys cuddling with her favorite people, males are more likely to greet you by calling out.
Cockatiel Gender Test: DNA Testing
I know, getting your cockatiel sexed by DNA testing sounds like a bit much.
It’s a last resort solution that you can avail if you cannot determine the bird’s gender by physical or behavioral differences.
You may obtain a bird’s DNA by either picking a feather from its chest or taking a blood sample.
You will need a DNA kit, which you may either order online or procure from a vet. If you don’t feel comfortable gathering the DNA sample or are worried about hurting your pet, have the vet do it instead.
Don’t worry; DNA testing your cockatiel isn’t expensive. It has become quite affordable in recent times to identify a bird’s gender using its DNA samples.
Is A Cockatiel Male or Female Better For You?
If you are on this page and plan to get yourself a cockatiel, I bet you might be wondering whether it’s better to have a male cockatiel or a female one.
Well, either can be a good choice. It depends largely on your lifestyle and the kind of pet you are looking for.
Let’s check out some points to consider when deciding whether you should get a male or a female cockatiel.
Does the amount of noise your new pet makes matter? You need to keep in mind that male cockatiels are much noisier as they vocalize more often than females.
If you don’t want a noisy bird in your home, it’s best to get a female cockatiel.
While male cockatiels are noisier, they also sing and whistle far better. Especially if you are getting a pet to keep yourself or your kids entertained, this is a very important factor.
A cockatiel’s gender also becomes a very relevant factor when you plan to keep it in the same cage as another cockatiel.
It’s not advisable to keep two male cockatiels together as they might get into fights over dominance. Keep either two female cockatiels or a male and a female one.
Female birds can lay eggs even without male partners, although the eggs won’t hatch into babies unless they’re fertilized by a male.
If you get a female cockatiel, you will have to provide it with a nest box for laying eggs and make sure it doesn’t suffer from calcium deficiency.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I identify my cockatiel?
Several physical and behavioral attributes of your cockatiel can help you determine its gender. Sexing a cockatiel based on its appearance is usually easy, except for certain mutations.
However, you will have to wait till it reaches at least six months of age, when male and female cockatiels gain different physical features.
Do female cockatiels have periods?
Don’t worry; your female cockatiel won’t have periods. Menstruation only occurs among mammals, and birds don’t fall into this category.
If your cockatiel has a bloody feather, it’s likely just due to a tear at the feather’s base.
Do cockatiels lay eggs without a male?
Yes, female cockatiels do not need to mate with a male to lay eggs.
Even if you keep a lone female cockatiel in a cage, it would still nest and lay eggs during the breeding season.
However, the eggs won’t bear any babies as they haven’t been fertilized.
Do cockatiels recognize you?
Cockatiels are intelligent birds and are capable of recognizing their caregivers.
They can identify and remember different people separately, even forming a perception based on the person’s behavior towards them.
If you have a lone cockatiel, it may even identify you as its mate.
To take proper care of your pet birds, you need to know whether it’s male or female. As I explained, this information comes in handy in several ways:
- Buying the right companion bird
- Determining and fulfilling your pet’s needs
- Understanding the bird’s personality and its likes and dislikes
I’ve covered as many details as I could think of in this article. Hopefully, you can now determine a cockatiel’s gender without carrying out a DNA test.
Take all the factors into consideration when deciding whether to get yourself a male cockatiel or a female cockatiel. Thank you for reading, and I sincerely hope you found this article helpful.