By Julie Allen
Many times we’ve pondered the answer to this question. Sometimes, as breeders, we can determine this by the pedigree of the parents; that is, what the sire may be carrying in his gene pool or as we say, ‘split to thus and such’.
The basic simplest rule of course, if the baby is a sex linked color or mutation other than mother, we can safely say, it is a female. We know this because the father determines the sex linked variations of his offspring. Another simple rule to remember would be that the baby of a sex linked mutation must have a mother the same mutation as it to be a male.
However, what if we are not able to determine the sex of the baby because the offspring could be male or female according to the genetic makeup of the parents? Over the years, we were given a clue that the baby males have less spots on the flight feathers, that is, the dots on the feathers do not go all the way to the body of the bird. This is a good clue, but alas, is not fool proof. Probably about half of the time determining the sex of the baby cockatiel by this method fails to be accurate. We’ve seen the female baby cockatiel with pale dots going only half the way to the body of the bird. On the other hand, baby cockatiel males have had good-sized dots on wing flights all the way to the body. In the past, we found this out many times the hard way, such as selling a bird and telling the buyer we were pretty sure it was a female or a male because of the dots on the wings or lack of dots on the wings. Well, most of us have progressed way past this old inaccurate determining factor. Is there any way we can really determine the sex of our baby cockatiels? Unfortunately, science is the only accurate way.
I’ve been asked if I can tell what a baby cockatiel’s sex might be by experience or clues. Somewhere along the breeding experience, I determined the male baby cockatiels and the female baby cockatiels do seem to differ in appearance around the head area. Quite by mistake, I am sure, fooling around and looking for good qualities in my babies, I happen to notice that when I held a baby cockatiel to eye level and looked straight at it’s face, there were differences in the shape of the cockatiel babies’ heads. The males reminded me of “ET”(the old movie outer space character). His head appeared flat and wide on top and the eyes seemed higher on the side of his head and seemed to bulge out a bit from the side of his head, sort of in a triangle-like appearance.
In comparing the female baby to the male baby cockatiel, I thought her head was shaped more like a horseshoe, rather than flat as was the male baby’s. Her eyes seemed closer to her head and just a bit further down on the side of her face than that of the male baby cockatiel.
This concept is definitely not scientific nor has it been written up in any books. I find it works for me whenever I ponder the question of whether the baby ‘tiel is a girl or a boy. If you try this a time or two with your babies, you probably will notice the difference in your baby cockatiels as well. If by chance that I would ever have a baby male with a head that is similar to a female baby, I probably would sell the baby for a pet!