I have lost count of the number of times I have heard the
question asked "How can I tell the sex of my cockatiel?". It is sometimes very
easy to tell the difference but in some cases it comes down to "if it lays an
egg it's a hen!" Sounds like a very silly statement I know but with all the
different mutations available these days and the multiple combinations of these
mutations found within the one bird, sexing cockatiels can at times be
There are a lots of different opinions on what methods are
available for sexing cockatiels. Some are very accurate and others are just 'old
wives tales'. The most common fallacy that I hear is that males have a brighter
orange cheekpatch than hens. If only it was that simple! Unfortunately the
brightness of the cheekpatch holds little relevance to sexing cockatiels at all.
Among the many I have heard of, the most accurate methods of
sexing cockatiels are either DNA sexing, seeing a hen lay an egg or genetically
sexing due to colour of the parents. Other methods that are fairly reliable but
are mutation dependent are the face colour, wingspot sexing, and barred tail
feathers . Behavioural characteristics are often fairly accurate as well but it
must be kept in mind that there is always a few birds that don't do the usual
Some experienced breeders have good success in sexing
cockatiels by feeling the shape of pelvic bones and the gap between them. The
hens are said to have more rounded bones with a wider gap between them than the
more pointed ones of a cock bird. I have had varied success with this method and
would rather leave it to those that have more experience.
Below are links to my pages with a more in depth explanation and pictures to assist
with some of the methods used for sexing cockatiels.