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How to Tell Parakeet Sexes Apart

Once your bird is a few weeks old, you will be able to determine the sex by looking at its cere (the nose and nostril are). In normal circumstances, a hen’s is brown, and a cock’s is blue. During the mating season, the hen’s cere will become enlarged and scaly and the cock’s becomes a darker shade of blue. Simple!

Despite this basic rule, there can still be some complications. Sometimes a hen’s cere will be blue, this is because their breeding hormone levels are low. When birds are ill their cere will also be this light blue, or sometimes even just white with a slight hint of blue. Interestingly, in the wild a hen’s cere is light blue, only turning brown during the nesting season. In younger hens, the cere is a light blue with white around the nostrils.

Male birds, although nearly always rocking a blue cere, may have a brown or browny-pink cere if his breeding hormones dip below the norm, or if he is ill. An ill male may also develop a yellow-greenish tinge around the nostril area. In an immature cock, the cere is a blueish pink or light purple.

Male and female parakeets
The clue is in the cere - a female's is brown, and a male's is blue

Some parakeets are harder to sex. Albino, Lutino and Mottled birds usually have off-white, light pink or blueish pink ceres, and males of some of the pied varieties have light pink, blueish pink or white ones. With there being so many variations of this little bird, there is always a chance that your parakeet will have an “ambiguous” cere color. However, in 90% of cases, the brown-or-blue rule will apply.

Despite all these complications, cere color is by far the easikest way to sex your bird. There are also a few gender-related differences in voice and behaviour too; but these are not as consistently “male or female” as cere color. If you do happen to inherit an adult bird of unknown sex with an ambiguous cere, pay special attention to bonding behavior - any excessive head-bobbing means your bird is likely to be a male, and nay excessive squawking, rather than chirruping and singing indicates that your bird is female.

Young Parakeet Sexes

Younger birds of all types are much harder to sex than adults. At around three weeks old, cocks develop a blueish-pink cere, sometimes verging on lilac, and females have a blueish-white one, usually with a hint of pink around the nostrils. If the young birds belong to the Albino and Lutino group, you will not be able to sex them without an internal examination - which is something you should never attempt in any circumstances. Time will deliver the answer, and there is no need to interfere with a still-developing bird.

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Anonymous, 25 May 2022

My mother and I were just having a conversation about the birds my brother and I kept as children. They were "male" but turned out to be female when they both starting laying eggs simultaneously. The cere was always a distinct blue on both birds. I sincerely hope it meant that they were young females and not ill adult females, however they did die after only a few years of having them. I imagine it had something to do with excessive egg laying, we tried to supplement nutrients to make up for it. My mother's cockatiel had the exact same problem and laid eggs constantly until she prolapsed and had to be put down. If I could turn back time I would've done more for these birds but be we were young and the pet store indicated that all of our birds were male! We had no idea what we were dealing with. Misinformation abounds in many pet stores, do your research!

Theresa, 3 March 2021

I already have a male bird and am looking for another younger male. How can I tell them apart. The age of the bird I want needs to be at least 6 months old. My current bird is 1 or 2 years old.

Don, 21 August 2019

We have a rainbow budgie called Eli . having doubts if its a boy.. The cere has gone very brown but only after a bad bump and bruise on one side.. The most concerning thing is almost frantic chewing on anything he can get to .. he is 18 months old .. Have we got a girl ????

Cipher, 6 July 2019

I just got a budgie (An albino budgie) and I'm pretty sure she's female as she has a completely pink cere.....could I be mistaken?

Nikka, 5 July 2019

We had bought a male and female 11 years ago, the employee at the pet store determined their sex. They never got along and the female died within 4 years. At year 7, the “male” to our surprise started to nest and lay eggs! He is a she! She is pretty hardy too. She also has a very blue cere.