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Home > Birds > Male or Female Conure: How to Tell the Difference (Vet Answer)

Male or Female Conure: How to Tell the Difference (Vet Answer)

sun conure

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Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

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Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Conures are popular pet birds that are native to Central and South America. If you have a pet conure, you might be curious about whether your bird is a male or a female.

Unfortunately, all parrots referred to as conures lack sexual dimorphism. In other words, it is impossible to identify their gender by just looking at them. Instead, you want to look at mating behavior.

Read on to learn more about conures and how to tell them apart.


What Are Conures?

The term conure is sometimes used to refer to a group of small to medium-sized parrots that are native to Central and South America. But the use of the term is inconsistent. Some ornithologists may refer to many birds as conures, others prefer the term parrot or parakeet.

Parrot species often called conures don’t necessarily share the same natural habitat, diet, or scientific classification in text. This makes finding information about conures overwhelming and confusing. For example, some texts might refer to sun conures as sun parakeets. For a new pet bird owner, the confusion might become worse when they look at pictures of a bird labeled as a sun parakeet which closely resembles their pet conure.

Sun Conures on a branch
Image Credit: Cherdchai Chaivimol, Shutterstock

How to Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Conure

Parrots referred to as conures lack sexual dimorphism, meaning that they lack a distinct difference in size or appearance between males and females. In other words, there’s no way to tell whether your conure is a male or female by looking at their outward appearance.

Some evidence suggests there are minor differences among some male and female conures; however, none of these differences have been proven and aren’t considered reliable.

For example, some aviculture enthusiasts report female sun conures having shorter tails than males; however, this difference hasn’t been reliably noticed by owners of other conures. Other sources claim that male conures may appear brighter, but research has shown that plumage brightness in conures may be affected by their diet.

The best way to tell your conure’s gender is to observe them while they mate (if you have multiple birds). If you don’t have multiple birds, or if your birds are too young to mate, the only way to reliably identify their gender is by having a vet perform certain diagnostic tests on your bird.

Observe Gender Differences During Mating Season

Sometimes, you may get lucky and be able to tell your conures apart during their mating season.

  • First, if you notice two conures pairing up and affectionately grooming each other, then you can safely assume that one of them is a female and the other is a male.
  • You may also observe your pair mating, where the male mounts the female; however, for most conures, this deed only lasts a few minutes and isn’t readily observable.
  • In many conure species, a female’s belly will swell up before she lays eggs. Observing one of your birds like this during their mating season could help you distinguish the female from the male.
  • Noticing one of the birds laying eggs is an obvious indication of their gender, as this is something only female birds do. The males, on the other hand, aggressively guard their nest box. Incubation of the eggs is also solely done by the female for many conure species.
  • Feeding chicks is a task that both parents actively participate in, and observing one of your birds feeding their chicks is not a reliable indication of their gender.
crimson bellied conure
Image Credit: Kittyukari, Shutterstock

Option Two: DNA Sexing

Despite the differences between female and male conures during the mating season, waiting on just the mating season is not a good or recommended way to sex your birds.

For starters, many conure species are slow to mature and often must be 2–3 years old before they mate. Second, having your parrots mate isn’t a decision you should make haphazardly and is a task that’s best left to professionals. Third, a bird kept as a lone pet may not show these signs.

Therefore, the best way of identifying your conure’s gender is to have your vet do it for you. There are reliable DNA tests your vet can perform to identify your conure’s gender. The most popular ones include feather sexing (which uses a few molted feathers) or a blood sample collection which can be used to identify your bird as either male or female.

Is It Important to Know My Conure’s Gender?

Under most circumstances, knowing your conure’s gender isn’t necessary. Your pet bird’s gender will not determine their personality, management, care, longevity, trainability, or sociability. Both male and female conures make excellent pets.

However, there are certain instances where knowing the gender of your conure may prove somewhat useful. These include the following:

  • Problems Specific for Each Gender: The gender of your conure may be important from a health perspective, as there are a few ailments specific to each gender. Females may experience issues with egg binding, a condition where they cannot pass eggs normally. Females that are kept alone may also lay eggs (albeit infertile) and sometimes experience this ailment. This condition requires veterinary care.
  • Males may rarely suffer from a penile prolapse from some diseases, though most birds kept indoors are not likely to experience this problem. Therefore, asking your vet to help you identify your bird’s gender is a good idea. Most veterinarians can easily do this during a routine health checkup.
  • Naming: If you’re interested in giving your pet bird a gender-specific name, then you may wish to know their gender before you do so.


Final Thoughts

Though both genders of conures make excellent pets, it is almost impossible to tell them apart outside of their mating season due to them not displaying any sexual dimorphism. The most reliable way to tell your bird’s gender is by having your vet perform a DNA test.

Featured Image Credit: Naypong Studio, Shutterstock

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