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Patricia, Parrot Consultant
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 1759
Experience:  Published author, free lance bird behaviorist, adviser to the parrots at Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
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Hi - Do cockatiels go into heat I dont ...

Customer Question

Hi - Do cockatiel's go into heat? I don't know for sure what sex my little friend is, but she backs up at the corner of the cage and makes strange noises. Can you tell me if she is in heat and also would that also determine what sex she is?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.

Hi Kim. No they do not have what we call a heat cycle. They do tend to get more hormonal during the spring and early summer as that's the mating season in the wild. Unfortunately, no, that particular behavior is not indicative of gender either. Masturbation is very common among male birds and parrots so backing their bottom up to something, particularly if they seem to swish it back and forth could indicate male. Females might do a similar action if they are thinking of it as a "nesting" corner. While there are only two ways to be sure of gender, (the laying of an egg, with or without a male bird, or a DNA test) there are some visual and physical hints that can help us be pretty sure which gender we have. How easy the physical clues are to see, will depend on which type of Tiel you have. If you have what is called a Normal Grey, they are easy and rarely are the physical traits wrong. Normal Greys are the ones we see most often with a mostly grey body, white trim on the wings and of course the orange cheek patches. When still immature as respects feathering, both sexes look very much alike. But as they get their adult feathering, the males head will turn mostly yellow while the female's head stays mostly grey. graphic

This is a picture of one of my defintely male, Normal Greys. If you bird looks like this, you can be almost certain you have a male bird. If your bird mimics sounds and/or talks, again, you have a male. Another visual clue, regardless of which type you have is the presence, or lack, of horizontal barring on the tail feathers. Solid tail feathers should be male. Horizontal barring should be female. If you have a Lutino, a Pearl, a Pied or any of the other types, it might be more difficult to see these hints. If this doesn't help with a best guess, gender determination on your bird, and if you want to describe it to me, I'll see if I can help any further with that. One thing I do want to give you a heads up about is diet. If by chance your bird is female and is exhibiting these indications of feeling "nesty" you must make sure there is plenty of sources of calcium in the diet, including a never ending supply of cuttle bone. It's important for both but it can literally be life or death for female, should she decide to lay. If she does not have plenty of calciuim reserves, she will not be able to form solid shells for her eggs. They will be too soft to pass, she will become egg bound and that can be life threatening if not immediately recognized and dealth with. Just in case you are feeding your bird seeds and seed products only, you need to start right away improving the diet. Seeds should not be more than about 30% of the diet. The rest needs to be pellets, vegetables, leafy greens and much more. In case you are fairly new to this, I'll give you a lot of links to help you with diet, the consequences you can expect from improper diet, safety issues and much more that I hope you will find helpful. I want to help you have the happiest, healthiest bird possible for a long time to come. If you have any more questions, or need any further help, just let me know. Patricia

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