Parakeet sexing can be a tricky business, but there are two methods that can be used to accurately sex a parakeet: through tissue samples collected from feathers or through blood samples. Mature parakeets may also be sexed visually by their physical characteristics, although this method is not as accurate.
Feather sexing a parakeet is similar to blood sexing, except the sexing is performed through DNA analysis on tissue collected from the parakeet’s feathers instead of its blood. For accurate tests results, Avian Biotech International recommends feather sexing on freshly plucked feathers from the breast of the bird, as molted feathers do not contain fresh tissue samples. Feather sexing may be the preferred method because it can be less stressful on the bird.
Sexing a parakeet through a blood sample is just as accurate as sexing through a feather tissue sample. This type of sexing does have some drawbacks -- a veterinarian will need to obtain the blood sample, and collecting the blood can be somewhat stressful to your pet. On the upside though, once the blood is obtained it can be analyzed not only for sexing but also for possible genetic diseases.
An experienced eye may be able to sex a mature parakeet by examining the color of the area above the bird’s beak, known as the cere. In parakeets over one year of age, the cere can begin to change color depending on the sex. Males tend to have a darker cere, ranging from blue and violet to pink, while females often have a lighter-colored cere in white, brown, tan or light blue. This method of sexing parakeets is not as accurate as blood and feather sexing.
Feather and blood sexing methods for parakeets are preferred for breeders who want to be sure they know the sex of birds before pairing them together. For pet owners, it is not always necessary to sex parakeets, but many pet owners like to know the sex of their bird.
If you decide to sex your bird through the feather or blood sexing method, make sure the collection of the feathers or the blood is performed with great care to reduce stress.
Jane Peterson has been a professional freelance writer since 2006. She enjoys covering subjects such as personal health, diet, women's health, pets, alternative medicine and green living. Peterson graduated from the University of Florida in 2003, earning a bachelor's degree in science.