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Male or Female Conure? How to Tell the Difference?
Conures are energetic and playful birds. Native to South America, this bird species is one of the most varied groups of parrots. They are popular pet birds because of their eye-catching colors and fun-loving personalities.
With over 100 different species and subspecies, these birds charm people with their playfulness and comical personality. Some of the most common Conures include the Sun Conure, Green-cheeked Conure, Pineapple Conure, Jenday Conure, and Nanday Conure. Each of these small to medium parrots has a distinct set of physical attributes.
Like other parrot species, it’s difficult to tell the gender of a Conure just by looking at it. Males and females can’t be distinguishable unless you observe some critical behaviors or carry out a DNA test.
How can you tell the differences? Let’s take a look.
Scientifically referred to as Aratinga solstitialis, Sun Conures are strikingly colorful and interactive pet parrots. Originally from Brazil and Guyana, these spirited birds are also sometimes called sun parakeets.
Their bright plumage and ability to mimic sounds have made them popular among pet bird lovers. Sun Conures are monomorphic birds; therefore, the males and females look nearly identical physically, although there are some key differences.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Sun Conure
Here are some of the things you can look out for to determine whether your Sun Conure is male or female.
Sun Conures are known for their distinctive colors comprising yellow, green, blue, and reddish-orange. You can use these colors to determine the gender of your bird. Males usually have more intense and vivid colors on their bodies, especially on their faces and stomach, compared to females.
Experienced breeders check the amount of red color on the Conure’s face. If the two birds were born around the same time, they could tell the sexes apart when they first acquire feathers.
When the birds are younger, the male has a less red coloration on their face than the female. As they grow older, the red coloration intensifies around the face and the neck while the female doesn’t change.
This method needs you to have more than one bird for comparison. Therefore, it’s not reliable if you have only one bird.
Key behaviors can help you identify whether your bird is male or female. Female Sun Conures tend to be social and cuddly; therefore, they enjoy being touched. Also, since conures are known for their loud screeching, females will tend to be less vocal than their male counterparts.
In addition, the males are very territorial of their favorite people in the family and their cages. You can only use this method of identification if you have more than one Sun Conure to compare.
● Egg Laying
If your bird lays an egg, whether infertile or fertile, this is a confirmation that it’s a female Sun Conure. These birds become fertile at 2 years.
The females will also look different from the males during the breeding period. Their stomachs will look bloated right before they deposit eggs.
● The Tails
You can distinguish between the sexes by looking at the tails. Male Sun Conures have longer tails than their female counterparts, by a few inches.
While the males have tails between 5.15 and 5.74 inches in length, the females’ tails can be as short as 4.76 inches. However, in some cases, some females might have longer tails.
● Physical Appearance
Male Sun Conures appear sturdier with thicker physiques than females. On the other hand, females have thinner bodies, tinier bills, and are more graceful.
● Sex Organs
One of the most direct ways to determine the sex of these birds is by examining their sex organs. This procedure is done by an avian vet who puts the bird under anesthesia and makes an incision on the left body side to examine the bird’s organs.
If the bird has a testicle, it’s male, and if there’s an ovary, the Sun Conure is female. This method should be a last resort because it’s risky and could bring about complications from the anesthesia or an infection on the incision.
● The Head
You can determine the sex of your Sun Conure by observing the appearance of the head. Male heads are more angular and level on the top whereas, their female counterparts have more circular shapes.
● DNA Sexing
DNA samples are the most common method used to identify whether a bird is male or female. This procedure is less invasive than surgical methods because it uses a DNA sample obtained from either the bird’s feathers, blood, or eggshell. A professional groomer can help you get a sample from your bird.
The avian laboratory determines the sex of your Sun Conure by analyzing the sex chromosomes. This is the most accurate method to assess your bird’s sex.
The green cheeked Conure is smaller than most conure varieties. Characterized by a black beak, brown eyes, red tail feathers, dark green bodies, and pink feet, this bird species is also a strikingly beautiful bird.
Males and females have many similarities in their physical characteristics, making it impossible to determine their gender. To make this identification easier, you can either pay for DNA testing or check for the following features.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Green-Checked Conure
● The Feet
Most female green cheek conures tend to have pink feet, while their male counterparts have grey toes. This may differ from bird to bird; therefore, to get accurate information, you should also incorporate other methods to get the correct gender identity.
● The Head
The head of your pet green-checked Conure can also help you determine the gender. Females tend to have a more rounded head, while males are flat-headed.
However, each bird is different, and some might be an exception. If this is the case, you should use other testing methods such as DNA.
● The Pelvic Bone
Females will tend to have a broader and rounder pelvic bone than male green-checked conures. A pelvic exam can be used to identify the bird’s gender.
● DNA Sexing
The physical observation methods are not usually 100% guaranteed; therefore, it’s essential to use DNA testing to be sure. Testing is done on either a blood sample or a feather sample.
If you decide to use feathers, the feather must be freshly plucked and have enough tissue for testing. You can pluck the feathers at home by following instructions on the testing kit.
You can easily get a testing kit either at a pet shop, online store, or your veterinarian. Once you have plucked the feather, you should send the samples to the lab for a sex chromosomes analysis. For a blood sample, this procedure can only be done by your veterinarian should take a blood sample for testing.
These bird species are social and energetic breeds. A native bird to Brazil, these medium-sized conures are renowned for their goofiness. They make excellent companions, making them popular pets.
Often confused with the Sun Conure, they have similar colors. However, as they grow older, the green color becomes brighter for the Jenday, while the Sun Conures pick more yellow and orange colors.
With a multi-colored plumage, these birds have a red-orange body and green wings and back. The wings and tail have a shade of blue, while the head is yellow with orange patches on the face.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Jenday Conure
Jenday conures are a monomorphic species; therefore, it’s challenging to tell the gender without DNA testing or surgical sexing.
● The Eyes
Although not enough to make a gender distinction, the eyes have a slight difference. The females have a light brown iris and a greyish eye-ring, while males have a darker brown iris and a white eye-ring.
● The Weight
Depending on the bird, males will tend to weigh more than females. However, you’ll still need further testing to confirm this.
● Surgical Sexing
Your vet can surgically check whether your Jenday is a female or male by checking the organs via surgery. The vet can make a small incision to check whether your bird has an ovary or testicle.
● DNA Test
This method is a foolproof method that will help you determine the gender of the bird. Feathers and blood can be used as samples to check for sex chromosomes.
Also known as black-hooded parakeets, Nanday conures are among the most commonly kept pet conure species in the United States. The Nanday is native to southeastern Bolivia, Brazil, northern Argentina, and central Paraguay.
Scientifically known as Nandayus Nenday, they begin to reproduce when they are about 1 year old. They have a distinctive blackhead; the wings and tails are tipped with dark blue feathers.
They also have bright orange feathers on their legs and around their vents. When well taken care of, they can live up to 40 years.
Male and female Nanday conures generally look alike. For this reason, you can’t visually verify the gender and have to use DNA or surgical sexing for breeding birds.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Nanday Conure
● DNA Testing
Suppose you have an individual conure in your home; you have to use DNA testing using a feather, blood, or excrement. This is the only foolproof method because male and female Nandays have the same physical appearance and sound and behave similarly. The only difference arises when you spot the female sitting on the nest to lay eggs.
This breed of Conure is a variation of the green-checked Conure. They came about as mutation of the Cinnamon and Yellow-sided Conures.
They are popular pet birds due to this unique combination of colors and their small size. They are also intelligent, friendly and need a lot of attention from their owners.
If you are looking at the gender differences, it’s pretty challenging to differentiate this by looking at their external appearance. However, owners use some behavioral differences to tell whether their pet bird is male or female.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Pineapple Conure
Male pineapple conures tend to be extraterritorial and aggressive than their female counterparts. Because of their personality, they are more adventurous than females.
On the other hand, the female birds are sweet and cuddly. Therefore, by observing the behaviors of your pet bird, you can tell whether their gender.
● DNA Sexing
Like other conures, this is the ultimate method that you can use to confirm the sex of your bird. The results are accurate; therefore, you get a confirmation.
Blue-crowned conures or the Sharp-tailed conures is a colorful parrot native to South American regions of Columbia, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. With a pointy tail, the length of this bird ranges anywhere between 15 to 17 inches.
Although this bird is not as brightly colored as the other conures, it’s still very colorful. Its body is predominantly green with a blue crown on top of its head, extending to the ears and cheeks.
These breeds are sexually dimorphic; therefore, experienced individuals can use some features to determine gender. Despite this, mistakes can occur; hence it’s still essential to have a DNA test or surgical sexing when in doubt.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Blue-Crowned Conure
● The Eyes
When determining the gender, the males tend to have larger white eyepatches than the female birds. This feature is one of the methods breeders use to differentiate the two sexes.
● The Pelvic Bone
Experienced breeders use the pelvic bone to distinguish between the two genders. Females have a wider pelvic bone to allow for egg-laying, while males tend to be tighter.
● The Feathers
The feathers of the males tend to be longer. In addition, you can use feather coloring to determine the gender if you have experience dealing with this breed.
● Medical Tests
Your veterinarian can carry out surgical sexing, DNA, endoscopy, or chromosomal analysis for accurate results. These tests are the best option when you need to be sure.
Dusky-headed Conures are also known as Weddell’s Conures and dusky-headed parakeets. Originally from South America, their scientific name is Aratinga Weddellii. Although not very common in the pet trade, their popularity is gradually increasing.
These birds are predominantly green in color but have a grey or grey-brown head. Their abdomen and part of the wings may be yellow, whereas the edges of the wings and tip of the tail are blue.
Dusky-headed Conure has a black beak and a white ring around the eyes, and their beak is black. As adults, they grow to about eleven inches long.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Dusky-Headed Conure
If you intend to breed these birds, you can only know the gender by having a surgical or DNA sexing. Both sexes look alike and have almost the same behaviors. Therefore, you can only be sure by using results from your veterinarian.
Bird lovers popularly keep conure birds for their colorful plumage. Each of the species has a distinct and strikingly beautiful color that makes them unique. These birds also tend to have the same behaviors and personalities, making it hard for most conure owners to determine the sex of their bird.
Experienced breeders can identify slight variations in the eyes, feathers, pelvic bone, or coloration that sets each gender apart. In addition, some behaviors differ slightly. However, these methods are not foolproof; therefore, one would still need surgical or DNA sexing to determine the actual gender.
If you plan to breed your birds and need to know the exact gender, these tests are your best bet.
Featured Image Credit: Steven Bush, Pixabay
Oliver (Ollie) Jones – A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master’s degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.
- Sun Conures
- Green-Checked Conure
- Jenday Conures
- Nanday Conure
- Pineapple Conure
- Blue-Crowned Conure
- Dusky-Headed Conures