Sex in the Aviary

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October 28, 2013 by genelup

I started out this Spring with 10 pet birds in my aviary — eight lovebirds and two cockatiels. Now I have 20 birds.  I knew the sex of my cockatiels (a male and a female), but not the lovebirds. I think the male cockatiel has a small sperm count.  The female has sat on eggs off and on for the last couple of years but nothing got hatched.  She sat on eggs this summer, and she just gave up a couple weeks ago.  They are childless.

It is easy to tell the sex of cockatiels.  Their coloring on their cheeks and the streaks, or lack thereof, on tail feathers disclose their sex.  But lovebirds are different.  The male and female look exactly alike.  When I bought my lovebirds from a pet store I always asked the owners if the birds were males or females.

“I don’t know,” they would say.  “Only way you can tell their sex is to get a DNA test on them.”  I’ve heard this from two or three pet store owners.

Last year, my eight lovebirds never produced any young.  I didn’t know if I had all females or all males or what.  However, this year the lovebird sperm and ovaries exploded.  Ten young lovebirds have hatched.  Some have flown out of the nesting boxes, and some are still in them not quite ready to explore their new world.

IMG_3996IMG_3995IMG_3994IMG_4001

(The last picture is of the mother bird teaching her young that jumped out of the nesting box today to fly)

I know now of the eight original lovebirds I have three couples.  The other two birds (a red-faced and a pale orange-faced) are a mystery.  The red-faced has been sitting on eggs for three months but nothing got hatched.  IMG_3998

The pale orange-faced…well, I still don’t if it is a she or he.

We humans are so smart we can fly to the moon, but we can’t tell the sex of a lovebird by looking at it.  We have to do a DNA test to find out.  However, a male lovebird doesn’t have to do a DNA test on a lovebird that is sitting next to him on the perch.  He can tell if that bird is a female or a male. We “smart” humans can’t.

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