African Grey Parrots are smart and can mimic human speech, making them popular pets.
People often want to know if their parrot is male or female, but it’s not easy to tell the difference just by looking at them.
This is important for pet owners interested in parrot breeding or understanding their pet’s behavior.
Despite their popularity, African Greys are not sexually dimorphic.
Males and females exhibit no obvious differences in plumage, which often leads to confusion and misidentification.
This has given rise to a host of methods and theories aimed at sexing these birds. However, without scientific testing, these methods remain largely speculative.
In this article, I’ll explain how to clearly differentiate between male and female African Greys.
Male vs Female African Grey: Physical Differences
African Grey Parrots are monomorphic, which means males and females look very similar and are hard to tell apart just by observing them.
This similarity often leads to confusion when trying to identify their sex without scientific testing.
In terms of size, male African Greys generally grow larger than their female counterparts.
While both sexes can reach up to 14 inches in height, males tend to be on the higher end of this range.
This size difference is one of the few physical attributes that can suggest the sex of the bird.
Head and neck
Looking at the shape of the head and neck can also provide clues.
Males typically have a smaller, flatter head and a shorter neck.
Females, on the other hand, have a longer neck and a larger, more rounded head, which can be noticeable upon close inspection.
The coloration of tail feathers can be another indicator.
Males boast fully red tail feathers, while females have a mix of red and silver hues in their tail feathers, giving them a slightly different appearance.
Under tail coverts
Underneath the tail, the coverts of males are a dark gray, whereas females display a lighter gray. This subtle difference may require a more experienced eye to discern.
Lastly, the eye patches of African Greys can be telling.
Males have eye patches with pointed ends, while females have eye patches that are more rounded.
However, note that this can be one of the more challenging distinctions to make without comparison.
It’s important to recognize that while these physical characteristics can provide hints, they are not definitive without DNA testing.
When it comes to behavior, African Grey Parrots do not exhibit significant differences in aggression based on their sex.
Both male and female African Greys can be territorial, and there is no consistent evidence to suggest that one gender is more aggressive than the other.
This challenges a common misconception that male birds might be more dominant or territorial.
In terms of talking ability, a trait for which African Greys are renowned, both males and females have the capacity to develop this skill.
There is no concrete evidence to support the idea that one sex is more verbal or begins talking at an earlier age than the other.
This dispels the myth that male parrots are more likely to talk or that they have a more extensive vocabulary.
Nesting behavior is one area where female African Greys might differ from males.
Females may exhibit a stronger inclination towards nesting activities, such as shredding paper or arranging their cage to create a nest-like environment.
This behavior is instinctual and can occur even in the absence of a male or breeding conditions.
Courtship displays are another aspect of behavior where males tend to stand out.
Male African Greys may engage in more elaborate and noticeable courtship behaviors.
Some of these include displaying their tail feathers, expanding their wings, and performing acrobatics accompanied by vocalizations.
These displays are part of their natural mating behavior and are used to attract potential mates.
Vocalization is a celebrated trait of African Grey Parrots, and there are some subtle differences that might be observed between the sexes.
Some owners note that male African Greys may exhibit a broader range of sounds and mimicry.
They might be more inclined to experiment with different vocalizations and could potentially develop a more extensive library of phrases and noises.
On the other hand, females are sometimes observed to have a higher pitch in their vocalizations, which could be distinct from the typically deeper voices of males.
However, truth be told, these tendencies can vary greatly with each individual bird, and this is not a definitive rule.
I have known female African Greys who have vastly superior vocabularies than their male counterparts of similar age.
African Grey Parrots go for anywhere between $1500 and $4000 in the United States. Females are generally slightly more expensive than males.
This price difference is attributed to the fact that females have the ability to lay eggs and reproduce, which can be a significant factor for breeders or those looking to raise African Greys.
Note that the specific cost will vary depending on the region, breeder, and age and subspecies of the parrot, but typically female African Greys are more expensive.
Determining Sex Professionally
Despite the various differences that I mentioned above, determining sex should not be left to chance.
The most reliable method for determining the sex of an African Grey Parrot is through DNA testing.
This process involves collecting a sample of the bird’s feathers, blood, or a cheek swab and sending it to a laboratory for genetic analysis.
The results can definitively identify whether the African Grey is male or female.
This method is particularly useful for owners who require certainty for breeding purposes or for those who are simply curious about their pet’s sex.
Pelvic Bone Method
Another method used by professionals is the examination of the pelvic bone.
A veterinarian or an avian specialist can feel the pelvic bones at the base of a bird’s tail to determine the sex.
In females, the pelvic bones are typically wider apart to allow for egg-laying, whereas in males, these bones are closer together.
This method requires experience and should only be performed by a professional to avoid causing distress or injury to the bird.
Which is better, a male or female African Grey Parrot?
The question of whether a male or female African Grey Parrot is “better” does not have a straightforward answer.
The suitability of a parrot as a pet depends more on its individual personality, how it has been raised, and its compatibility with its owner than on its sex.
Each bird is unique, and gender alone does not determine a parrot’s quality as a companion.
As mentioned earlier, some owners believe that males are better talkers; however, there is no real proof of this.
I would suggest that potential owners spend some time with and interact with the bird beforehand to gauge whether its temperament aligns with their expectations and lifestyle.
Do parrots prefer male or female owners?
There is no conclusive evidence that African Greys universally prefer one over the other.
Parrots typically form a bond with a person who interacts with them most positively and consistently, regardless of the person’s gender.
They respond to attention, care, and social interaction, so the quality of the relationship developed between the parrot and its owner is the key factor, not their sex.
In summary, male and female African Grey Parrots exhibit few physical differences.
The males are generally larger and have certain distinctive features, such as fully red tail feathers and darker undertail coverts.
These differences are subtle and often require expert identification.
Behaviorally, both sexes are capable of territorial aggression and advanced vocalization, though individual personalities will vary.
Females may display more nesting behavior, while males might show more elaborate courtship displays.
Determining the sex of an African Grey Parrot with certainty requires DNA testing or a professional examination of the pelvic bone.
When considering the purchase of an African Grey, females may be slightly more expensive due to their breeding potential.
However, I would like to conclude this article by saying that the most important factor to consider when choosing a parrot is not its gender but its individual personality and how well it meshes with your lifestyle and expectations.
It is the unique character and temperament of the bird, rather than gender stereotypes, that will ultimately define the pet-owner relationship and ensure a rewarding companionship.
Lastly, if you are considering buying a male or female African Grey, I would recommend adopting a bird instead.
Adoption gives a second chance to the bird and a trained and loving pet to the new owner. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.