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Sexing Parakeets: At What Age Can You Tell a Parakeet’s Gender?

Sexing Parakeets

Many bird lovers love to keep parakeets (also called budgerigars or “budgies”) as a pet. But they mostly find it very difficult to determine the gender of their beloved bird pets on their own.

However, sexing parakeets is really very easy when you know how. You can simply determine the sex of an adult parakeet by glancing at its face and other body features. However, you will need to look a little closer if you are trying to identify the sex of a young bird.

This article contains everything you need to know about parakeet sexing and other information related to budgies. So, keep scrolling.

At What Age Can You Tell a Parakeet’s Gender?

If you want to tell your parakeet’s gender by looking at its body features, you will need to wait till it is 1 year old. You cannot distinguish a male from a female if they are younger than 1. Before they are 12 months old, both male and female cere colors are the same. Their features become more distinct as they age, and you can easily determine their gender.

However, you can also determine the gender of juvenile parakeets by carefully looking at their behavior, feet color, body size, eyes, and so on. But they may not give you accurate results. If you want to identify the gender of a juvenile parakeet accurately, you will need to do a DNA test on your bird.

Otherwise, you have to wait at least til they are 1 year old so that you can tell their gender by judging their body features.

Sexing Parakeets: How to Identify the Gender of Your Parakeet

The easiest and non-invasive way to determine the sex of a parakeet is to Wait til the bird is one year old, reaches maturity, and acquires its mature-age cere coloring. The cere color is highly distinctive and different in matured male and female budgies. 

If you need to do the sexing on young birds before they develop their obvious adult cere color or on non-colored or ambiguously-colored adult birds, then you can use invasive methods such as DNA bird sexing to get a 100 percent accurate result.

However, there are some more non-invasive methods you can use, though they may not always be accurate.

1. Look at the Colour of the Mature Parakeet’s Cere

Cere (pronounced see-ree) is a piece of flesh on top of a parakeet’s beak which encompasses the parakeet’s nostrils. It consists of blood vessels and keratin.

Cere color of parakeets is the most reliable indicator of their gender.

Juvenile male and female birds (under 12 months old) usually have a non-sex dimorphic cere that is pink, pale blue, or violet in color. When parakeets are around or above 8-12 months of age, their cere color varies depending on whether they are males or females. 

Matured males have bright blue or rich violet-colored cere. And,  matured females’ cere can be brown, lighter tan, or, rarely, a very pale, whitish-blue color.

2. Examine the Colour of the Parakeet’s Legs and Feet

The same-sex hormone effects that give male parakeets blue ceres and female budgerigars brown ceres also affect the skin on the bird’s legs and feet, giving them a sex-respective.

When parakeets reach maturity (at over 12 months of age), the color of the bird’s legs and feet changes depending on whether it is a male or female. Adult males own bright blue legs and feet, and females have pink or brown legs and feet when they are fully grown.

3. If You See Eggs in the Cage, It’s a Female

If you see one of your parakeets has laid an egg, then it is a female. However, remember that a bird doesn’t become male by default in the absence of egg-laying. 

Numerous factors, such as age (too young or too old), egg binding, malnutrition, ovarian disease, uterine diseases, reproductive tract infections, and various stressors, can make female budgerigars unable to produce eggs.

4. Healthy Male Parakeets Have Larger Body and Head than Healthy Females

Adult male parakeets are larger in size and weight than adult female parakeets. The males are larger and stronger than the females. Compared to their respective body sizes, males often have much larger heads than females do. Also, males’ body feather colors are usually more vibrant than female birds.

5. The Behavior

Male parakeets like to socialize and get along with other birds and people. They have a cheerful nature, and they like to sing and bob their heads often.

On the other hand, female budgies are less friendly. They have a bossy attitude. They also make loud noises, but once you hear them, you will be sure they are not signing. 

6. DNA Bird Sexing

If you need to do the sexing on young birds before they develop their obvious adult cere color or on non-colored or ambiguously-colored adult birds, then you can use invasive methods such as DNA bird sexing to get a 100 percent accurate result.

7. Sexing Parakeets – Endoscopic Bird Sexing

You can use endoscopy, which is also known as surgical sexing, to identify the gender of juvenile birds.

The bird’s air sacs are sizable air chambers with translucent, membranous thin walls. The endoscope allows for the visualization of the complete abdominal cavity organ system, including the reproductive organs of the bird.

The vet can tell whether your pet budgie is a male or a female budgie if you let it go through the endoscope.

Budgie Cere Problems

Parakeets can suffer from many cere problems that can make their owners worry about them. However, vets are familiar with those problems and can treat them properly if you bring your bird before it’s too late.

 Here is a list of some common cere problems and what they mean.

1. Bleeding Cere

You may see blood coming out of your budgie’s cere, indicating that its mouth has been cut or punctured. If you encounter this problem, take your bird to the vet as soon as possible because it requires immediate attention.

Bleeding cere is also a sign of choking. If your bird’s throat gets lodged with a nut or seed and these objects go to its mouth when it tries to swallow, it is likely to cause choking. If this occurs, you must seek your veterinarian’s assistance.

2. Dry Cere

If you notice that your parakeet has a dry cere, it is a sign of either of the three problems.

  1. Your bird doesn’t drink enough water.
  2. Its meals include lots of carbohydrates.
  3. It is suffering from an infection due to the parasites and bacteria. 

Because dry cere can be a symptom of a disease or illness, you should keep a close eye on your bird and see if it’s going through any behavioral and apparel changes. And take it to a vet if the condition is serious.

3. Fluid Coming from Cere  

It can be a sign of infection. You must immediately take your parakeet to an avian vet if you notice fluid oozing from its cere. Your bird won’t be able to eat properly until it receives treatment for any infections or foreign objects that may be present in its mouth.

4. Peeling Cere

You may notice that the feathers around the cere are shedding, and the cere is peeling, exposing the flesh underneath. This might not be a symptom of anything concerning and could just be your parakeet’s incomplete preening or lack of preening.

If you notice this, simply keep an eye on your bird over the coming days or weeks to see if there are any changes in your budgie’s diet and drinking habits, behavior, and overall health.

5. Cere Overgrowth or Growth Coming from Cere

Your budgie may suffer from hypertrophy condition where the cere may start to separate from the beak, curve slightly, seem elevated, or change shape.

Cere hypertrophy is a prevalent disease in chronic illnesses, and birds with this condition are comparable to sufferers of catarrh. It’s been determined that this isn’t caused by any local infections on the parakeet’s body but rather by an underlying problem that must be treated before returning to treating their cere overgrowth.

Refrain from treating this condition on your own as it may restrict your bird’s ability to eat, drink or breathe. And avoid attempting to remove it yourself if you don’t want to worsen the situation. 

If you believe your parakeet has this illness, please consult an avian veterinarian right away.

How to Breed Parakeet Successfully: Step-by-Step Guideline

Step 1: Chose a Method

You can follow any of the two main practices to breed parakeets: Colony breeding or Cage Breeding. Both the methods have pros and cons. So you should use the one that suits your goal better.

Step 2: Make Pairs

If you want to breed a single pair, select one male and one female parakeet who are at least one year old. Both of them should be unrelated, completely healthy, with no deformities. 

For colony breeding, you will need to set several pairs.

Step 3: Let the pair Bond

Parakeets Must Bond to Breed.

If you use the colony breeding method, the birds will sometimes bond and pair up on their own out of a larger flock. However, if you want to breed an individual pair to produce specific patterns and colors, you can choose the male and female you want to pair and set them up to bond.

Put your selected pair together in a sizable cage and allow them to get used to living together and bonding. When you will see that they stick together, follow each other around, and the male feeds the female, then understand that they are truly bonded. 

Step 4: Breeding Set-Up

Having the correct kind of setup will encourage your birds to breed. Make sure you have the following items.

Your birds will be more likely to reproduce if you have the right kind of setup. So you should carefully set up their cage following the below tips. 

(a) Breeding Cage

The Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society (HDBS) recommends that you select a cage for a single pair that measures approximately 24x12x16 inches. 

The cage should have a separate door where you can attach the nest box to the outside of the cage so the birds can enter it from the inside of their cage. Also, it should have several perches.

To provide the female with more calcium for creating eggshells, you’ll need to hang a mineral block and cuttlebone from the edge of the cage. And remember to keep dishes for food, water and as well as for fresh and soft foods.

(b) Parakeet Nesting Box

Image credit: Novajzna, Shutterstock

Buy next boxes designed for parakeets. HDBS suggests buying a nest box with a 1½-inch opening so that the birds can use it as a doorway. 

It is better to buy a rectangular box that has an opening at one end and a circular floor recess on the opposite side for the eggs. For you to check for eggs or hatchlings, make sure the box has either a lid on top or on one of the sides.

(c) Nesting Material

As there are many options available for nesting material, try some nesting material so find the type that your parakeet pair likes best. 

However, aspen shavings and recycled newspapers are good options. But avoid using cedar shavings as their fumes are poisonous to birds.

(d) Lighting

Usually, parakeets require 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness to function properly. However, they tend to get into breeding conditions when the days are longer. So it’s better to use full-spectrum lighting to extend their daylight by a couple of hours. 

Additionally, light is required for females to generate vitamin D, which will enable them to produce strong eggshells and bones.

Step 5: Provide Them with Breeder Diet

To ensure healthy breeding, you need to provide your bird pair variety diet in abundance. Soft foods are more effective in bringing a pair into breeding conditions. 

Their diet should include:

  • Fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens
  • High-quality parakeet pellet mix 
  • Cooked, chopped eggs, or commercial egg food
  • High-quality parakeet seed mix

You should change the water at least thrice a day or whenever it gets dirty. And remember to throw away old soft and even toss away fresh foods after two to three hours and replace them with fresh food to ensure your birds are eating anything spoiled.

Step 6: Wait for Them to Mate

Once your pair is comfortable with their breeding arrangements, within a very short time, they begin to breed. To practice safe breeding, if you were training them, stop every kind of training. You should provide them with fresh food, water, clean housing, and other basic care.

Parakeet  Fertilization and Egg Production

If you have the question, “how do parakeets mate?” Here is the answer.

When the she bird is ready to mate, she will bend forward on the perch, raising her tail slightly. To deposit his sperm, the male will approach the female and position himself above her, rubbing his vent on hers. She might be bred several times a day and will start laying an egg every other day. Usually, the average clutch contains four to five eggs.

Incubation 

Incubation starts when the female starts to sit tightly on the eggs. Eggs are typically incubated for 17 to 20 days. Although it can vary by a couple of days, it typically poses no threat.

Step 7: Check for Fertility

Remember that eggs aren’t always fertile. To check fertility, you can check eggs by “candling” a week after the female begins sitting. You should pick the eggs gently and hold them before a flashlight. 

If the egg is fertile, you will notice a yellow glow and red squiggly lines inside. And on the other hand, infertile eggs have only a yellow glow.

As the chicks grow, you may see their faint outline, but as they get closer to hatching, the eggs become relatively opaque with a clear air space on one end.

However, be considerate of the expectant mom and don’t disturb her too often to check for eggs’ fertility. 

Step 8: Caring for the Baby Parakeets

Following hatching, you have two options for parenting parakeets. You can either hand-feed them or let the parents raise them. However, If they get used to handling, they will make tamer pet birds.

Step 9: Weaning the Chicks

Typically weaning begins when the chicks are around five to six weeks of age and are still being fed by their parents or being hand-fed by you. 

To make them learn to accept a balanced diet rather than just becoming seed eaters, you will need to start offering different foods to them. For example-

  • Offer them millet sprays to teach the babies to crack seeds.
  • Add a dish of pellet crumbles.
  • Once the chicks get used to eating millet and pellet crumbles, offer them small amounts of finely chopped vegetables, greens, and fruits. 

When the chicks can eat well on their own, the parents no longer feed them, or they refuse hand-feedings from you; the weaning process is complete. And then it’s time to take them to an avian veterinarian for a proper checkup.

Step 10: Stop Breeding Activity

Sometimes pairs keep breeding clutches after clutches. As a result, the hen can get exhausted and even die from continuous egg-laying and feeding chicks. 

So, at most, let the pair produce two clutches and then encourage them to stop. You can limit daylight, remove the nest box, and separate the pair to stop further breeding.

Wrap Up

Parakeets are beautiful, easy to care for, and an unlimited source of fun. Yes, determining the gender of your parakeet can be difficult sometimes, but if you pay attention to your bird, you may be able to tell apart male parakeets from females. And if you still can’t say for sure even after looking at the cere, going to the vet will be the best option for you. It won’t cost you much but will give you an accurate answer.

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