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Sexing a Cockatiel


   There is a lot of misinformation floating around the internet, and sadly, bird fairs, about the sexing of cockatiels. I remember once looking for a female lutino pearl. I asked the lady at the table if she thought the bird was a female. She took it out of the cage, swung a string with a washer tied to the end over it, and a few minutes later, she said it was a male. This "method" of sexing cockatiels is called the pendulum method. It is not accurate, it is an old wive's tale, and pretty much the same as guessing. Needless to say, I did not purchase a bird from her.
  There are three ways of accurately sexing a cockatiel: 1) visually and 2) through genetics (please see the section on genetics), 3) DNA sexing. To visually sex a cockatiel, it must have gone through its first molt. ALL juvenile cockatiels look the same before their first molt. They all look like females. Sexing through genetics requires a knowledge of the genetics of the parents, and an understanding of how genetics work. I will not go into genetics on this page, please refer to the genetics page.

Visual Sexing Myths
   You can sex a bird by the bars on its tail or dots on its wings. Nope, sorry, no cigar. While females generally have bars and dots, they don't always. One of my males, a whiteface, has very well defined bars on his tail. He is definitely not a female. :) So this method isn't great for determining gender.
   Louder, more aggressive birds are males. Usually. Not always. There are some very sweet, quiet males, and there are some loud, non-snuggly females. However, if genetics doesn't help the breeder determine the sex, they usually will use this method as a sort of backup to help figure out who's what. If you're looking for a specific sex, then this way of sexing might disappoint you.
   Male lutinos have brighter cheekpatches. No. There is no way to visually sex a lutino or a pied. Period.

   Below is a listing of many mutations of cockatiels. I will include photos as they are available. Males are on the left, females on the right. This is only for single mutations, birds like cinnamon pieds, or pearl lutinos, are not included here, as there are quite a few combinations possible. However, any bird that is a full pied (not split to it) cannot be visually sexed. Any bird that displays lutino, cannot be visually sexed. For example, a whiteface lutino. You can sex the whiteface, but lutinos cannot be visually sexed. Therefore, the whiteface lutino cannot be visually sexed.

Takoda Aviary's Visual Cockatiel Identification


Normal greys
   The most common mutation of cockatiel.The bird is grey, with white wing tips and orange cheek patches. The male develops a bright yellow face with bright orange cheek patches, the female retains the grey face (usually with small amounts of yellow) and dull cheekpatches.
Male Grey Cockatiel Female Grey Cockatiel
Male Female



Cinnamons
   Very similar to normal greys.The bird's body, instead of being grey, is a shade of brown, with white wing tips and orange cheek patches. The male develops a bright yellow face with bright orange cheek patches, the female retains the grey face (usually with small amounts of yellow) and dull cheekpatches.
No Photo Available. Female Cinnamon Cockatiel
Male Female
Owned by Debby



Whiteface
   Similar to normal grey. The bird is grey, with white wing tips and silvery cheek patches. The male develops a snow white face, the female retains the grey face with silver cheekpatches.
Male Whiteface Cockatiel Female Whiteface Cockatiel
Male Female



Yellowcheek
   Similar to normal grey. The bird is grey, with white wing tips and yellow to yellow-orange cheek patches. The male develops a bright yellow face, the female retains the grey face (usually with small amounts of yellow) with the yellow cheekpatches. Sometimes the cheeks may blend in completely with the yellow head of the male.
No Photo Available No Photo Available.
Male Female



Pearl
   This mutation is highly sexually dimorphic, with the female being the more attractive of the sexes. The mature female has a bright yellow head with bright orange cheek patches, with pearling all over the body and wings. A good specimen has pearlings on the chest as well. Males look like normal greys, the grey body, white wing tips, and yellow head with bright orange cheepatches. A good specimen will retain a few pearls, loosely scattered over the body.
No Photo Available Female Pearl Cockatiel
Male Female



Lutino
   This mutation cannot be visually sexed. There are two variations on this mutation. The bird may either be completely yellow, with orange cheekpatches, or a yellow head with orange cheekpatches, and a white body.
Male and Female Lutino Cockatiel White bodied lutino
  "Rickki" owned by Ron Howard



Pied
   This mutation cannot be visually sexed. The bird will have grey and yellow/white patches all over its body, with bright orange cheekpatches. This is a highly variable mutation - some are more pied than others.
Lightly Pied Cockatiel Pied Cockatiel
"Buddy" owned by Carole Obermeyer "Sunny" owned by Ron Howard