Male or Female?
Your Budgie Sexing Guide

I get many questions to do with whether a budgie is a girl or a boy and so I thought a budgie sexing page would be useful. It will give you the information you need to learn how to tell males from females, boys from girls, cocks from hens...

Adult hen and cock budgie preening.

Adult budgies (as pictured on the right) are easier to sex than chicks or fledglings, as the signs are different, so firstly you need to decide which age group your bird falls into. 

Is your bird and adult or a youngster?

As chicks most budgie varieties have the barring (markings on their head) down the forehead to near the cere. If your budgie has barring down its forehead you can be sure it is a chick still. Another feature to look for is a dark tip to the birds beak, though this may not be present in chicks with orange beaks.

Also, chicks do not have an iris ring (the light ring around the iris in the eye). Most varieties gain an iris ring as they mature but some do not (Recessive Pieds, Lacewings, Dark Eyed Clears, German Fallows and sometimes Inos).  The iris ring develops at about 4-6 months, so if your budgie does not belong to these varieties and you have only had it a short time then the lack of an iris ring indicates it is still a youngster.

Young budgies showing head barring and lack of iris ring.

In the youngsters above you can see the barring, at different strengths, the solid coloured eyes without an iris ring, and the dark tip on one of their beaks. Adults, on the other hand lose the forehead barring and gain an iris ring in most varieties.

Adult male budgie showing flecking.

Sometimes there can be little discrepancies to throw you off.  Some varieties, especially opaline, can have what is called flecking.  This is when the bird has spots of markings left on the forehead after the adult moult.  It is more common on show type budgies and is not usually in the nice ordered bars that chicks have, being more scattered and random, as on the bird on the right. And as I have mentioned above, some varieties never develop the iris ring. 

If in doubt the other thing to consider is that young budgies usually have much softer 'fluffier' looking feathers and they become more sleek and firm looking as adults.  The baby feathering is primarily for keeping warm but as adults it must also help with flight and protection in the outside world.

If you absolutely can't work out the age you can either run through the information for both adults and chicks, or wait for 5 months and see if anything changes.

Sexing adult budgies

Lets start with hens:

  • Adult hens have a cere that is anywhere from whitish blue through to deep brown in colour. 
  • It changes during the breeding season, often becoming much darker and rough surfaced and growing into a more bulging shape.

Now for the cocks. Adult males have one of two types of cere colour:

  • The most common is a clear, bright blue.  It may become a stronger shade during the breeding season, maybe fading a bit at other times.
Male budgies ceres
  • The other colour is a fleshy or even pinkish shade.  This is present in all the varieties with red eyes, and the dark eyed varieties that do not have an iris ring as adults (Recessive Pieds, Fallows, Lacewings, some Inos, Dark Eyed Clears). 

Take a look at the images below and on the right to help distinguish between a pale hens cere and a fleshy cocks cere. Males ceres are smooth and slightly domed in shape, becoming rough like a hens may indicate problems.

Male budgies ceres

If you take a look up the image at the top right you will see a picture of a pair of wild  budgies. This is a lovely image clearly showing the male and female cere differences.

Sexing young budgies

Sexing youngsters provide a bit more of a challenge, some are obvious not long after leaving the nest but often you need to give them a few weeks before it is clear.  Here are a few things you can check:

  • a dull, not shiny, white ring surrounding the actual nostril is a good indication of a hen.
  • you will often see a slight blue shade surrounding the white ring, this is not an indication of a male but a common feature of a young hen.
  • hens ceres tend to appear flatter whilst a males will be rounded and bulging looking.

Below are some photos of young hens. The first hen is a little older and her cere is starting to turn brown.

  • cocks ceres lack a white ring and are often a pink/purple shade, they look very much like the adult male flesh/pink cere.
  • so in young budgies blue is likely to be a girl and pink is likely to be a boy!

I appreciate that this may seem like a lot of information, but once you have worked out a few budgie sexing will begin to come more easily. If you click on the photos in the right column you can see them in a larger form. Feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board.

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