There are reasons besides appropriately naming your parrots to have them DNA sexed. I’m pretty sure that DeeDee, my male cockatiel, has no objections to his effeminate name, and Theo, my female goffins cockatoo, seems to be comfortable with hers as well. I know the sex of all of my parrots except my quaker. I decided to have her (I think of her as a girl) DNA sexed.
Why should I bother with DNA sexing?
If you’re a breeder, this is pretty important. If you are not a breeder, it’s still pretty important because you may find out that your pair of assumed female parrots have just produced a chick, and, well, now you are a breeder.
There are other reason as well. Most parrots are monomorphic, meaning that you can’t tell the sexes apart by visual means. You can tell cockatiels apart by their feathering, cockatoos, less reliably so, by their eye color, and the male and female eclectus are different colors altogether (dimorphic). But, for the most part, you can’t tell unless it has laid an egg, and that it hasn’t laid an egg doesn’t make it male; Theo is 23 and has never produced an egg.
Knowing the sex of your parrot can help you assess and prevent some behavioral and health issues. For instance, you can be certain that egg binding is out when your known male parrot is not pooping. There might be intestinal blockage. Also, male cockatoos, for example, can get a little feisty when they are hormonal. Knowing this in advance can help you prepare his environment for the upcoming breeding season and prepare you emotionally for behaviors to come.
DNA sexing is very simple and inexpensive. It can be done through blood, feather or eggshell (immediately following hatching) testing. Feathers would be the simplest, least invasive, way to go. The company that I found that is most commonly used, and the one I selected, is Avian Biotech International and it will cost under $25 per bird.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.
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