Parakeets – also known as budgies (yes, they’re one and the same) – are lovely social birds that love to talk and play. They make for wonderful pets. You may be wondering whether your newly acquired parakeet is a male or a female. Here’s how to tell.
Male parakeets have bigger heads and are slightly larger overall. They have a blue cere, whereas females have a pink cere. The two sexes also behave differently, with males being more outgoing and relaxed and females being more reserved and territorial. Males are more vocal and noisy.
Identifying these differences correctly can be challenging for the untrained eye. Let’s go over some steps you can take to figure out your parakeet’s sex with confidence.
Male and Female Parakeets Have Distinct Physical Features
Male and female budgies have several markedly different physical features due to sexual dimorphism.
The most practical way for you to identify your parakeet’s sex at home is by using these differences.
Body Shape and Size
Male budgies, on average, are slightly larger than females. Enough that if you were to put a male and female side by side, you would notice. Their heads, in particular, are larger.
Of course, it can be hard to use body size to identify the sex of your parakeet if you only have one – you would have no frame of reference.
Additionally, while both male and female budgies sport a variety of colors, it’s usually the males that have more vibrant and colorful feathers. Probably because they need to compete for and attract a mate.
Keep in mind that the above are just general guidelines. It is possible to find smaller males with pale feathers and larger females with vibrant colors.
The cere is a patch of skin located right above a parakeet’s break. The bird’s two nostrils are located on the cere, so you should be able to find it quite easily.
In males, the cere is usually blue. It looks like this.
Females, on the other hand, have a pink cere.
Something important to note is that these color differences don’t fully develop until budgies are at least 12 months old, so you may not be able to use cere color to identify the sex of baby budgies.
Newborn birds of both sexes have a light pink cere, with females having a slight blue hue.
However, once the cere color fully develops, the difference between the cere colors of the two sexes only increases in intensity.
The cere on males goes from light to a deep, royal blue as they age.
Females have their cere go from light pink to brown as they enter fertility. The female cere also develops a layer of crusty skin.
Now, there are some exceptions you should know of. Certain varieties of male budgies won’t develop a blue cere; it will stay pink.
Genetic mutations, diseases, and disorders in individual budgies can also influence the cere’s color. This is rare, though.
Interestingly, the color differences of the cere are replicated on the feet too. Males will have blue feet, whereas females will have pink ones.
This color difference, both in the cere and the feet, is caused by hormonal differences between the sexes.
As with the cere, the feet will only start to change in color once the budgie is of a certain age – which is usually 12 months.
Males and Females Behave Differently
You can get a vague idea of your budgie’s gender by analyzing their behavior. Although, for obvious reasons, this isn’t 100% accurate. Partly because budgies behave randomly at times — and partly because it’s hard for us to fully understand their intentions when they act a certain way.
So, generally speaking:
- Males are more relaxed and outgoing. They will be more comfortable being around you for longer and are less likely to show territorial aggression. They’re very social and will make friends with your other pets too.
- Males will frequently bob their heads up and down. They do this to attract attention, stave off boredom, or indicate feelings of joy. It looks like they’re bobbing to a rhythm, and it’s absolutely endearing.
- Males are noisier. They chatter and sing more often. Singing is how males naturally attract a partner, so you can expect them to do it quite often, especially if you have a pair.
- Males will sometimes regurgitate food to a female. This may scare you, but be at ease – it’s a natural behavior and doesn’t hurt them. They do this, again, to court a mate.
On the other hand:
- Females are comparatively more reserved. They may get territorial or aggressive if you don’t give them enough space. They’ll still interact with you and make for wonderful pets, though!
- Females are also known to head-bob, albeit less frequently. Males do it as a courting ritual; females usually only head-bob when they’re babies and want to be fed by their parents.
- Females are quieter. They chirp and chatter, but they won’t ‘sing’ the way males do. Females will produce high-pitched chirps to express aggression or annoyance if they feel the need to, though.
- Unfortunately, females usually won’t learn to talk to you in human words due to their decreased vocal ability.
- Females typically only regurgitate food when it’s to feed their young. Sometimes for courtship, but if a female budgie is regurgitating food without any obvious reason in sight, she may be suffering from an illness.
How To Tell if Your Budgie is a MALE or FEMALE?
A Veterinarian Will Be Able to Identify Your Parakeet Bird’s Sex For You
With all the above information, you’ll probably be able to identify your parakeet’s sex at home. If your bird is too young to show any sex-associated physical and behavioral development, ask a vet for assistance! They’ll be able to help you.
Baby budgies of the two sexes actually do have some incredibly minute differences, but identifying them is exceptionally difficult, to the point where it would be impractical to do it with an untrained eye.
If all else fails, you’ll have the facility of opting for a DNA test for your budgie to identify its sex.