For many animals, it’s not difficult to tell whether they are male or female.
Rather, simple anatomy structures make it easy to pick out the difference between a boy and a girl.
This is true for dogs, cats, and many other animals.
But when it comes to parrots, the anatomy is a little different and you can’t always tell if they are a male or female simply by looking.
So how can you tell the difference between a male and female parrot?
There’s actually several different answers to this question and they can vary from parrot to parrot. For some parrots you can tell by physical appearance. No, you won’t be able to tell by looking at their anatomy, but some male and female parrots may differ in coloring or other physical traits. For the parrot species where males and females look the same, there are some other methods that you can use to tell the difference which we will discuss in more detail below.
Today, not only will we discuss how to tell the difference between a male and female parrot, but we will also talk a little bit more about parrot anatomy, why it’s so hard to tell the difference, and why it’s important to tell the difference.
So let’s not waste another minute!
Parrot anatomy 101 – Why is it so hard to tell the difference?
Before we jump into how to tell the difference between a male and female parrot, let’s first talk a little bit about anatomy.
Why is it so difficult to tell the difference between a male and female parrot?
The answer to this question is because a parrot’s genital areas are all internal, regardless of whether they are male or female.
In other words, male parrots don’t have a penis.
Instead, they have what is known as a cloaca.
A cloaca is an internal chamber that ends in an opening.
This may be something that you expect in female parrots, but the anatomy is the same for a male parrot.
In other words, both males and females have cloacas, which is why it is so difficult to tell them apart simply by looking.
While both males and females have cloacas, it’s what is inside that differs.
Inside the cloaca are the birds sex organs.
For male parrots the sex organs are the testes and for females they are the ovaries.
During mating season the cloaca will swell, allowing parrots to mate.
Depending on which sex organ the parrot has, this is where the sperm or eggs will be discharged.
The cloaca is the opening that is used for sexual functioning, but it is also the same organ that is used to release urine or waste.
Why do I need to know whether my parrot is male or female?
The truth is, it’s not always important to know a parrot’s gender.
If you are an owner of a single parrot and don’t intend on having anymore, you don’t really need to know if you have a male or a female.
With that being said, knowing the gender can come in handy for things like picking a name or knowing what to expect during mating season.
There are, however, times that knowing the sex of the parrot is important.
If you are planning on homing more than one parrot in the same vicinity, for example, it’s important that you know whether you have two males, two females, or a male and a female.
Understanding what sex your parrot is can help you to properly prepare for mating season, keeping opposite sex parrots apart if you don’t intend to breed or bringing them together if you do intend to breed.
Is my parrot male or female?
If you have bought your parrot from a pet show or reputable breeder, the gender of your parrot should be stated on a certificate of origin.
Most reputable breeders will perform DNA tests on their parrots before they sell them.
These test results can then be passed onto the owner for confirmation of sex.
In some cases, however, you may obtain your parrot elsewhere.
If you have bought your parrot off of a previous owner or have rescued your parrot elsewhere, you may not have the benefit of certification.
In such a case, you may have to undergo further measures to determine the sex of your parrot.
There are multiple ways to do so:
Does your parrot lay eggs?
By far the easiest way to tell if your parrot is male or female is to wait for breeding season to determine whether or not they lay eggs.
If a parrot lays an egg, it’s female.
To answer your next question, no, a female does not need to mate with a male to lay an egg.
Rather, females can lay eggs regardless of whether or not they have mated with a partner.
With that being said, only females who have mated with a male can lay fertilized eggs that can hatch into chicks.
If there is no male to mate with, females can only lay unfertilized eggs.
If my parrot doesn’t lay an egg does that mean that it’s male?
Female parrots may or may not lay eggs.
Additionally, a female will not lay eggs until she reaches sexual maturity which is usually around 3 years of age.
In return, you won’t be able to use this method to determine the sex if your parrot is younger.
In return, the only way to draw a definitive conclusion using this method is if your parrot lays eggs.
If this is the case, it is definitely a female.
If your parrot does not lay eggs, however, it could be male or female.
DNA testing is the method used by most breeders to determine whether a parrot is male or female.
In order to determine the DNA profile of a parrot a blood sample can be taken by your veterinarian.
This will help to analyze the chromosomes of the parrot to determine whether they are male or female.
Genetic testing for parrots is inexpensive and relatively accurate.
With that being said, such tests are, in rare circumstances, subject to laboratory error and may be inaccurate.
Surgical sex testing is not a common method of testing parrot gender.
It is very invasive and with the advent of DNA, it’s simply not necessary.
With that being said, rare circumstances wherein the history of a parrot is not known may call for surgical testing.
If surgical testing is done, it should only be completed by an experienced veterinarian.
Attempting to surgically determine the sex of your parrot on your own can be dangerous and can put the health of your parrot at risk.
In this method of testing your parrot will undergo a general anesthetic.
From there, a small incision will be made in the abdomen and a fiber-optic tube will be inserted for the veterinarian to see the reproductive organs.
Males will have testicles while females will have ovaries.
Again, this method of sexing should only be used as a last resort.
Smaller and younger birds can have problems with their reproductive systems after completion.
Visual or behavioral differences
For some parrot species, the males and females look identical.
For others, however, you may be able to visually or behaviorally determine whether they are male or female.
Take Quaker parrots for example.
During mating season, male Quakers are more likely to move their tail from side to side while females are more likely to move them up and down.
African Greys can also differ from male to female.
Males tend to be larger, have more pointed eye patches, and have darker grey feathers on their undersides.
Females tend to be smaller, have rounded eye patches, and have lighter grey feathers on their undersides.
Other parrots that differ visually are Ringnecks (males have darker rings around their necks), Senegals (females have yellow/green undertail feathers while males only have yellow), and Eclectus (males have a candy corn beak, while females have a black beak).
In conclusion, there are several different methods that you can use to determine the sex of your parrot.
It’s important to note that even when you can use visual or behavioral determinations, these are not 100% accurate.
The only way to be certain of the gender of your parrot without them laying an egg is to have genetic testing or surgical testing performed, where genetic testing is the preferred and safer method.