Is My Budgie a Boy or a Girl?
So you bought yourself a budgie, and now the question has been nagging at you: Is it a boy or a girl? It's not too difficult to tell with budgies, but it can be confusing for beginning bird owners.
- Boy or girl?
- A small anecdote
Boy or Girl?
Most bird species are not sexually dimorphic. This means that you can't tell what gender it is, simply by looking at it. Luckily, we're talking budgies here! Although it can be difficult for beginners and non-bird owners to tell the gender of a budgie, with a few simple tips, you'll be able to determine if your bird is a Tweeter or a Tweetine (Dear Lord, please don't actually use those names).
Male budgies tend to be the calmer, more social of the species. The hens, while they can be very sweet, tend to be more aggressive towards strangers, will be more inclined to defend their territory, and will nibble on things more. This is due to their instinct to create and defend their nest. The males also talk a lot more. Very few hens actually chatter like the males do.
As mentioned, the males are also more social. They are more likely to create a strong bond with another male in the group, whereas females very seldom have a best female friend.
Of course, as far as behavior goes, that is easily modified and therefore not always very reliable. The above is something you'll more easily notice if you have several budgies. It's also possible that you have one female budgie that acts like a male. This is because it's spent a lot of its life around the males of her species and learned how to behave from them.
This is the one that's most often used to distinguish gender. Superficially speaking, there is absolutely no difference between cocks and hens. But take a closer look at the colored swollen patch on their beak (this is called a cere). The color of the cere is the key to revealing the mystery of a budgie's gender.
A male budgie will almost always (except when it's an albino) have a dark blue cere. If it's a very young bird, the cere will be purple. Observe the cere of the bird on the left in the picture above. It's approximately six weeks old and has a purple cere. Therefore, it is male.
After a couple of months, the budgie's cere will change color, indicating that it's maturing (but not fertile yet!). So purple turns to dark blue when it's a male. But what about a female?
Females are the cause of the most confusion. People with male budgies seldom wind up really being unsure as to the gender. But females sometimes have blue in their ceres too, and that's mostly where the confusion sets in.
Females usually begin with a very light blue cere; sometimes it's almost white. If your bird is very young, you should be able to see very clear white rings around the nostrils. Not all hens have this though, so don't let that make or break your decision. As she ages, her cere will turn to a darker light blue. Sometimes she'll still have the white nostrils. Sometimes, her cere will turn a shade of pink. If she's feeling like breeding, it'll be brown and crusty. It could be beige. But it will never be dark blue!
So here's how to decide. Does your budgie have a dark blue cere like the bird on the left in the upper picture? Or does it have a purple cere like the one on the left in the top picture? Then it's a male.If it doesn't, you can be almost certain it's a female!
Many websites and bird owners juggle with lots of cere colors, saying that different feather colors will often result in different cere colors. But a male will have a darkblue or purple cere in 90% of the cases, and a female will not. Don't let yourself be confused.
The Most Telling of All
If your budgie lays eggs, you can be pretty sure it's a female. Well, that, or you call National Geographic Channel and tell them to come over.
A Small Anecdote
As a budgie owner, I began out wondering very strongly as to the gender of one of the birds I had acquired. I read all I could about cere colors, budgie behavior and links to gender, and so on and so on. I put pictures online of the budgie I wasn't sure on, got the advice of experts and eventually consulted a bird vet. The guy who sold the bird to me said it was a male and had put the budgie in a cage with only males. Most experts said it was a female. Some experts said it was a male. Even the vet eventually said it was a male.
But I was so sure it was a female. The behavior was that of a male. The cere was light blue, but I couldn't find the white rings on it. The websites I checked said, blue for males, females have white rings and sometimes light blue ceres.
I decided to trust my gut on this. The white nostrils weren't there, the behavior was male, but the cere was not dark blue. And so I decided, well, I feel it's a girl despite the evidence, I'm just going to consider her a female.
Well, to summarize how it turned out: Until male budgies start laying eggs, I'll know the vet was wrong, I was right.
The moral of this tale: If you're in doubt, it's most likely a female. Follow your guts.
Color of Cere
Any other color
Still in doubt...
Is your budgie a boy or a girl?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2011 Elysianphoenix