Cockatiel Sexing – Know If Your Cockatiel Is Male Or Female

Cockatiel sexing is relatively easy, with the normal grey variety, but not so easy with the white cockatiels.  The differences between an adult male grey cockatiel and an adult female grey cockatiel are so obvious that it is impossible not to tell whether the cockatiel is male or female.

The problem comes with trying to do cockatiel sexing on the younger cockatiel.  It is very difficult to sex a cockatiel, even for an expert, before the cockatiel has moulted for the first time into its adult plumage.  It is also quite difficult to do cockatiel sexing on some of the mutation colour forms.

A lot of people pair two birds of the same sex and wonder why they don’t breed.  There are the voice and behavioural differences between the different sexes of cockatiels, but to notice these takes more time and attention, so we will concentrate on visual differences for now.

Cockatiel Sexing

cockatiel sexing
Male Cockatiel

In the normal grey cockatiels, the adult males are easy to sex, as they are the ones with the bright yellow heads and red cheeks.  The females are more grey with only slight or dull colour on the head.

In other colour mutations, you will need to concentrate on the primary wing feathers and the tail feathers.  The adult male cockatiel will have no yellow marks whatsoever on these feathers.  The feathers will be either plain, dark grey or black.  Immature males and female cockatiels will have a chain of yellow blotches in the wing feathers, and a broad rectangular network of yellow in the tail.

Cockatiels may not moult until nine months of age but many do as early as three months.  It depends on what time of the year they hatched, as they normally moult in late summer.

cockatiel sexing
Female Cockatiel

Once chicks are three months old and out of the nest, they can be caught in a net and a single flight feather is pulled from the wing.  A tail feather may also be taken.  Before taking the feathers, make sure the quill is fully hardened.  A month later you can take another feather from the same cockatiel.  In the grey cockatiels, the male will have lost some yellow spots, and even in some of the lutino cockatiels. This method is not always 100% reliable if the chicks have malnutrition.  Within in another month of comparing feathers, statistics should be almost 100% reliable.

This method of sexing your cockatiel does not always work for the pied cockatiel because the tail feathers lack black pigment.

An absolute method of sexing your cockatiel is to use the male parent as a sex-linked colour mutation.  A cinnamon, lutino, or a laced male cockatiel paired to a hen of any colour other than that of the male will always give hen chicks that are the same colour as the father, while the male chicks will be of a normal grey appearance.

If for instance, a lutino male cockatiel mated with a normal, pied, cinnamon, laced, or red-eyed silver hen will always have lutino daughters and sons that are grey.  This method is tricky if both parents are split into colours.

A vet will use gentle palpation of the bones in the pelvic area of the cockatiel to sex the cockatiel.  The pelvic bones are wider apart in the female than in the male.

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