Determining the sex of the young cockatiel is not always easy; it often consists of an educated guess. The males and females of the normal greys and cinnamons are identical when young. They show little or no yellow on the face and both have large spots under the wings on the long flight feathers. As the males approach maturity and molt into adult plumage, usually at six months to a year, they lose their under wing spots and the facial area becomes mostly yellow. The orange cheek patch stands out clearly against the light colored head. The females continue to look like the young birds after molting. They retain their under wing spots and have very little yellow in the facial areas. They have the orange cheek patch but against the darkness of the surrounding plumage it is less obvious.
The pearl males lose their pearling with the first molt but the females retain their pearling for life. As immature birds they are identical. The pieds are the most difficult to sex. Both males and females retain the same under wing markings in maturity.
In all cockatiels the males are more vocal. When the mating song is heard, you can be sure that your bird is a cock.
Palpation of the space between the pelvic bones is another method of determining the sex of the bird. The bones of the male are pointed and close together while the females’ are dull, rounded, and further apart. The females are usually wider across the chest and the males longer and slimmer. The male often has a larger and fuller crest. None of these are completely reliable indicators but serve as contributors to that educated guess.
For the past year I have been trying a simple method of determining sex which so far has proved surprisingly accurate. In the greys, cinnamons, and pearls the under wing spots or bars extend only half way up the extended wing on the males. In the hens, these extend up the full length of the wing to the body of the bird.