Male or Female?


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Egg Laying
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Male or Female?
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Is My New Bird Male Or Female?

Copyright © 2004 by Margaret Madison
All Rights Reserved


Cockatiels can sometimes be sexed visually or by looking for behavior clues.  Generally male birds have yellow heads with the orange cheek patch or if they are a certain type of whiteface mutation, their heads are white with no cheek patch while their bodies are grey with the white patch on their wing edge.  The National Cockatiel Society’s website has a page which shows you some of the different mutations.  About ˝ way down this page you will see Descriptions of Cockatiel Color Mutations and under most descriptions there are some photos.  Click on those photo links to help find which mutation of cockatiel you have.  Not all mutations can be visually sexed.

Males begin to show some male behaviors around 4 months of age which usually start as vocalizations such as singing and whistling.  Females don’t usually have much variety in their songs and they mainly have a “tweep” sound which they’ll repeat to either greet you with or to get you to take them out of their cages for fun and attention.  Some females do have a little “song” of their own which consists of different tones and whistles, but not like the male’s songs.  The males seem to really sing with a “purpose”.  Mornings can be noisy times in a household with birds.

Males will drum their beaks on things, they’ll hold their wings slightly apart and they’ll hop while tilting their head, they’ll sing into empty bowls and into corners.  Males seem much more interested in mirrors and people who approach the cage while whistling – whereas a female may just want you to give her loving when you approach, the male might be more interested in “kissing” or “pecking” your whistling lips or putting their heads right up to your mouth while not wanting to be bothered with loving and scritching so much while they are trying to learn your particular whistle.  Males are better at mimicking whistles or human speech than females are.

Mature females may be seen positioning themselves underneath a toy while making a begging clucking type of sound.  This can simulate the male on the female’s back and can be followed by the laying of an egg.  The females do not need a male bird present to lay an egg and any eggs laid should be left with the bird for at least a week and only removed after that week if the bird has completely ignored that egg from the start.  If she wants to “guard” it or sit on the egg, let her do so for as long as she wishes.  To remove it would only encourage her to lay more and that can jeopardize her health.  Female cockatiels are known to be one of the species that is often an excessive egg layer, so try not to encourage her to lay eggs.  Move any toys she sits under in that way.  Never pat your female on her back or stroke her back.  Keep the scritching to her head, cheek and crest area only.  Mature male birds may be seen wiping their tails on a favorite perch or toy.  Their tails swipes back and forth like a windshield wiper, in a way.  If you notice any of these mature bird behaviors in your male or female, don’t be too concerned.  These are normal hormonal behaviors.  If you run to your bird to discourage it while they are doing it, it may send a signal to your bird that if they want immediate attention all they need to do is behave that way.  In the case of the female, wait until she is busy doing something else and then move her toys or change things around so she can’t position herself under that toy that way again.

Both sexes make good pets and neither sex "needs" to mate and raise babies to be "happy".  Two female cockatiels can make just as good companions as two males without the extra worry about whether or not they are going to be mating and laying eggs.  Generally the males are very entertaining and can be considered "noisy" since they will practice singing for what seems like hours on end.  Females can also be noisy though at times and are often more affectionate, but with that affection can come a price.  Many females begin to see their owners as a mate and will therefore fall into an egg laying mode, often to the extent where they ruin their health and die due to the complications revolving around their ability to lay eggs.  Owners of female cockatiels need to learn what can trigger egg laying and how to avoid it.  Things such as an empty corner on a bookshelf, free flight of the home in order to locate suitable nesting sites, a gap under furniture, a slightly open drawer or closet, the sight or sound of a "suitable" mate, petting or patting on their backs, kissing their beaks....all these things can trigger a hen into an egg laying mode.  It is important that your relationship with your bird be one of parent/teacher/leader more so than one of a mate/sibling/equal.  Always try to do what is best for your bird overall.

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This site was last updated 08/20/04