Practical Pet Pages
This page is intended for:
This is something readers have asked me for help with. It is a little disconcerting not to know whether your pet is male or female, especially if you are choosing a name.
With adult budgies of most colours it is easy to tell male and female apart by the colour of the cere which is the bit around the nostrils, above the beak. It is blue and smooth in males, and brown and rough in females.
However, for a pet you need a baby budgie, and the younger the better. The typical blue or brown colour will not have developed at this stage. Instead, look closely for the presence or absence of white on the cere, since white is the precursor of the buff and brown shades of the female cere. Look at the actual nostrils: if there is a hint of a whitish ring around them, then the baby is probably female. If there is absolutely no white, and especially if the cere is a nice pink, and well rounded, then the baby is probably male.
An adult hen budgie's cere is like a layer cake. The bottom layer is pale blue. Over this spreads the whitish colour, and then the buff and brown shades are deposited on top of the white. Therefore, a very young baby hen may show some pale blue on her cere, but there will always be white as described above.
An adult cock budgie's cere is not a layer cake: the fleshy/pink/purple tones of the baby turn blue.
With certain fancy and pink eyed varieties, the blue of the male never develops -- the cere stays pink or flesh coloured. (The identification of some fancy colour varieties is an advanced subject, beyond the scope of this page.)
Dark shading on the beak or cere indicates only that the baby is still very young indeed, and gives no indication of sex. It is common in darker coloured chicks.
There is a subtle difference in body shape too. Young cocks tend to be more tapered, and young hens less shapely or more blunt ended (to put it in an unflattering way!)
Cere colour seems easier to distinguish at an earlier age in darker coloured individuals who have plenty of pigment in their bodies. So, if the sex of your purchase is very important to you, it may be advantageous to go for a deep coloured bird rather than a 'blond' or very fancy variety.