The Importance of Knowing the Sex of Your Parrot
Many years ago, I adopted a tiny motherless kitten. The vet for whom I worked said the mite was a female, so I named her Annie and everything was fine … until a month or two later.
During that Annie grew up enough that it became pretty obvious that ‘she’ was in reality a ‘he.’ So Annie became Andy … And to my astonishment, my attitude towards the little cat changed.
Not that I liked him any more or less … but it was different. He wasn’t Annie anymore … he was Andy and therefore a different cat, somehow. I cannot explain it.
In the decades I have worked with Parrots, I have seen the same thing over and over with Parrot people. However, when Smokey suddenly lays an egg after being thought a male for twenty years, the adjustment is often much more traumatic.
After all, the bird’s sex had been misidentified for much longer than a couple of months! Oddly enough, many owners seem to feel … betrayed, or something. And rather stupid for having been so wrong about this bird they thought they knew so well…
The good news is that you need not face that unnervingly seismic change in your relationship with your Parrot. Thanks to wonderful DNA technology, laboratories can now determine the sex of your friend with just a drop of blood.
This is quite a change from when I entered the Parrot world back in the early 1970s. Back then it literally took surgery to determine the sex of monomorphic birds like most Parrot species.
Birds that are monomorphic have no markings or feather colors that indicate sexual differences that are visible to the human eye. (As an aside, the Eclectus Parrot is one of the most dramatically dimorphic species of bird on earth, as the two sexes don’t exactly look alike!)
In the UK, USA and many other countries, some labs let you ship them a drop of blood on a special piece of blotter paper that they provide. No need for the additional cost of a visit to the avian veterinarian (unless your Parrot is due for its annual checkup, of course.)
So check out the advertisements and phone a few companies and see what you can find out about it. As I understand it, the cost is not exorbitant.
Not surprisingly, male and female animals frequently do not behave the same way.
While sweeping generalizations are often quite meaningless, one can say pretty conclusively that if your Peach-Faced Lovebird bites the daylights out of you when you put your hand in its cage, that bird is likely to be a female.
Why? Because female Peach-Faced Lovebirds are often “Mama Grizzlies” when it comes to protecting their territory. Away from their home base, they are apparently off duty, and they can be very sweet and playful.
It is an important thing to know your Parrot’s sex for medical reasons as well. If your bird is acting egg bound but it is a DNA-sexed male, that rather changes the diagnosis, doesn’t it?
Incidentally, if a Parrot is sexually mature but has not laid an egg, that is no guarantee the bird is not a female. My Blue and Yellow Macaw Sam lived with previous owners for 12 years before I came along. No eggs were laid during that time, but they still suspected Sam was a female. That proved to be true when she finally did start laying eggs – over a decade after she came to live with me!
So Sam went at least 25 years without producing an egg; I know that much of her history. Why did she wait so long? Haven’t a clue. Maybe because we’d learned a lot about psittacine nutrition during that time, so I had switched her from a seed diet to a formulated one and she was feeling much healthier. Don’t know. (I’ve asked her, but she does not wish to discuss it.)
So if you do not know the sex of your feathered friend, you need to. After all, you cannot assume it isn’t important information just because our human eyes cannot differentiate.
According to zoologists, the most important thing to know about an animal is what species it is. And the second most important piece of information is what sex it is. When an obstetrician delivers a baby, isn’t the sex of that child one of the first things that is identified? How could it not matter with your Parrot?
No matter what their gender, find everything you need for your Parrot here.
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