Normal cockatiels are relatively easy to sex because of the brilliant yellow colouring about the head and face of the male, whereas the female is an overall grey with pale orange cheek patches. Young normal cockatiels of both sexes resemble the female until they have their first moult, usually at about the age of six months. The youngsters, upon leaving the nestbox, are almost as large as the parents but the crest and the tail feathers will be shorter than that of the parents. The feet and beak of young cockatiels has a pinkish tinge which changes to a dark grey at maturity. Young males will develop, at the age of four to six months, a tinge of yellow on the sides of the face toward the back of the head and the orange cheek patch is brighter than that of the female. Cockatiels do not attain full, vivid colouring until the age of two years. Albino and Pied cockatiels are almost impossible to sex with any accuracy until they are nine months to a year old because both sexes look exactly alike. Upon close observation of young Albinos and Pieds, it is sometimes possible for the experienced aviculturist to distinguish the males from the females by their actions, as the males attempt to whistle and generally show off on the perches at a very early age. Occasionally, a young female will attempt to whistle also, but generally they are much quieter.
The pelvic bone test method may be used to sex Pied and Albino cockatiels when they are approximately a year old. To sex birds by this method, one should hold the bird firmly but gently in the left hand with the thumb under the lower mandible. Place the ball of the right thumb on the breast and very gently move it downward toward the vent. When the tip of the thumb rests against the lower end of breast bone, a soft area will be noticed and in the ball of the thumb two small bones can be felt. If the two small bones come to a point, the bird is a male. If there is the width of a pencil between the bones, usually denotes a female. This method does not guarantee a hundred percent accuracy but, with practice, is reliable at least eighty percent of the time and when I cannot determine sex in any other manner this test more often than not works for me. Sexing birds by the pelvic bone test method may seem difficult to the novice but, with practice, does become much easier and when there are no visual differences in the sexes, accuracy in sexing cockatiels is probable most of the time when this method is used. However, on occasion, when sexing cockatiels, there will be just enough space between the pelvic bones to make the owner completely uncertain as to the sex of the bird and in these cases there is nothing left to do except to place the cockatiel in a flight with other unmated birds and wait to see what happens. If, eventually, you see the bird whistling, strutting on the perch and generally showing off to another bird, you know without a doubt he is a male, or, if one day it disappears into a nestbox and lays an egg, then you can be certain you have a female!
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.