Lets Talk Sex and How Some Birds Give Away Their Sex by Feather Color

Lets Talk Sex and How Some Birds Give Away Their Sex by Feather Color

Last Updated on by Catherine Tobsing

20% – 25% of parrots are sexually dimorphic meaning you can identify their sex by the color of the bird. Male eclectus are green – females are red.

Male Indian ringnecks have the ring females do not. The ring starts to grow in one feather at a time beginning at about 10 months and completing in 1-1/2 years.

Adult budgie hens have a cere right above their beaks that varies from whitish blue to deep brown in color. The most common is that a male budgie has a bright blue cere.  It may brighten during the breeding season, and then fade. A female’s cere ranges from white to brown and pink.

Sexing lovebirds

In the video below we see a lovebird shredding precise strips of paper and then tucking them under her wings to carry them to her nest site. This determines it is a female as male lovebirds just make confetti with paper.

Name: Pam D

I have a Cape parrot that loves to get into my potted houseplants or even the garden in summer (tethered of course) and EAT the dirt, I shoo her away, but wonder if this will harm her.

Also, she loves the dog’s kibbles. I shoo her away from that as well but I’ve heard dog kibble is bad for their liver. Actually, my dogs are given mostly a raw diet and I supplement a little kibble. I have to put her away until they’re done or she chases them from their own food :). Thoughts, please?

Dear Pam

The dirt in your houseplants is more dangerous than the kibble. Please cover the tops of the pots so they cannot eat the dirt. There can be fertilizers and other toxins in the dirt.

A bit of dog kibble will not harm your birds. As with everything else, moderation is the key.

Consider upping your bird’s minerals as they may be suffering from PICA  is the persistent eating of substances such as dirt or paint that have no nutritional value., but they may be seeking minerals. Humans can have the same affliction Hagen Cal-Clay  can be useful as a mineral supplement.

Pam replied

I’m not too concerned about Holly getting into the plants b/c she only gets into the one pot occasionally and I chase her away so I know she doesn’t get much dirt, but one has to wonder what too much is. Covering it is another good precaution.  I have asked on my Facebook parrot groups about this but No-one has answered this, so thank you for your quick response – I also wondered about the mineral issue, but my main concern has been about other ‘things’ she might ingest –I will look into the supplements.

The same is true for the kibble – I always chase her away or am sure to put her in her cage while the dogs eat – again thank you for answering at all.

–Just another reason I love Windy City!!
Regards, Pam

MitchR sticking his nose in things

Kibble is in a lot of bird foods renamed “pellets.

This situation begs the question what does your bird have to engage with when out of the cage of its own? Any bird-centric foraging opportunities or toy boxes around the house or garden?

Sherry writes

Lv Sunday Brunch. Helps a lot. Need help with info for egg laying. Huelo, greenwing Mccaw, laid 2 eggs 3 yrs ago. Now has started laying again and nesting. Her avian vet. Says take away right after lays. I read about fake eggs when u know she is hormonal. Well, she is hormonal all the time. Do u have a suggestion?? Thank u, Sherry C

Hi Sherry – Here’s what we have found works.

  • Remove the eggs – no fake eggs
  • Take any nesting material/sleeping huts out of her cage
  • Keep minimal amounts of food in food dish so she gets the idea there is abundant food to feed babies – no food at night
  • Lock her in her cage for 3 days, put a light on top of it and keep it on for 72 hours which breaks the brooding circadian (oscillation) rhythm.

Chatting with Guest

You: hello how can I help?

Visitor: Hello Mitch, need your advice, please

You: sure what can I help with?

Visitor: I just returned home after nearly 2 months at the hospital. My left leg was amputated and I received a liver transplant.

Visitor: Doctors urged me to find a new home for my female Hahn’s McCaw

Visitor: How shall I approach this so she (4 years old) -will be taken care of

Visitor: It hurts me very much to give her away.

You: By not getting rid of the bird – the doctors are flat out wrong and not knowing anything about birds – the last thing you need is the loss of a pet – I have a post for you

Visitor: Ok

You: Why doctors should be prescribing birds

You: please read – had a similar situation with a cancer patient – Birds are like canaries in coal mines for disease and infection

Visitor: Thank you, Mitch. Let me read. I will get in touch later. And by the way, I love your news, the Sunday brunch newsletter. Very well done.

You: thank you for the kind words – if need be I can send a video on how to make a HEPA air filter for $25 that is as effective as a $1000 unit – the doctors are worried about dander and feces particulate which can be all but eliminated – as long as you can take care of the bird and maybe have someone clean the cage you should be fine

Visitor: That’s it for the time being. Thank you so much. I am glad that I found your website 3 years ago. Have a great week ahead of you.

(same) Sherry wrote:

Enjoy ur info. I have a question. Our bird room is on the west side of the house. Gets warm in this room. I have special blinds and blackout curtains. The thermostat is in another part of the house so doesn’t know the temp in the room is 77.9. Will get hotter this summer.

None of the bird’s free flight. We put in a ceiling fan to circulate the air. Fan on low. Do I need to be concerned about a draft at night when the door is closed? I can’t find info other than safety and window drafts. Thank u

Hi Sherry

The problem with “drafts” in the summer is that they may lead to over-preening because of “ruffled feathers”

Hope that helps


I have a cockatoo and 2 parakeets I have noticed a lot of moths flying around the house. I have noticed a weevil that looks like a maggot on the wall. Can you tell me a bug spray that can use that won’t kill my birds? Thank you, Lu

Email: [email protected]

Name: Lulabelle L

Dear Lulabelle

Moth Traps will take care of the moths and larvae

Poop Off For safe daily cleaning

I hope this helps.

Curated by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

Your Zygodactyl Footnote

Mitch Rezman

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