With very few exceptions, parrot owners have to rely on DNA testing to determine the gender of their birds. One bird tends to look very much like another of its species, male or female. Sometimes we learn that Fred is not really a boy after finding an egg in his her cage. Lucky for you, parakeets (budgies) are one of those few parrot species that can be visually sexed with somewhat reliable accuracy.
The only ways to judge a parakeet’s gender with absolute certainty is through DNA sexing (http://www.avianbiotech.com/) which is inexpensive, fast and has 99.9% accuracy; and with surgical sexing that is invasive, dangerous and unnecessary. Or you can wait for an egg to appear in the pellet bowl one day, which may not happen regardless of your bird’s sex.
With budgies, you get can make a reasonable judgment about sex based on the color of their ceres, the bulbous, fleshy area where the beak meets the head, but there are a lot of variables that can affect an accurate judgment.
- As a rule, an adult male budgie has a blue, sometimes purple-ish colored cere. The adult female will have a brown, crusty cere.
- As juveniles, the male will sport a pink/purple cere . The female parakeet has a pink cere until 4 months of age, at which time it will turn into a white cere with varying amounts of blue. At around 8 months, each gender will have developed their adult cere coloring.
- It is important to note, however, that both genders of the pastel budgies: the albino, lutino and pied mutations, can have pink or tan ceres, making it impossible to judge their sex in many cases.
- Other characteristics that are not so visible to the average bird owner are the male’s more bulbous ceres and the female’s flatter head.
Behaviorally, it is far less reliable to make gender determinations:
- The young male parakeet performs a mating dance that has them scurrying along the length of their perch with a bobbing head. The males are the singers.
- The female chatters more (but sings less), tends to be more aggressive and has a stronger bite.
However, none of these traits can absolutely determine gender. I knew a male that did not read the budgie behavior manual – he was territorial and yelled at the neighbors all day, a job usually reserved for the female. There are no guarantees.