Ask Lafeber


June 1, 2017

Parakeet Sexing


Currently, my family has two parakeets. We know that male parakeets have a blueish-purple cere, and females have a peachy-white cere. However, one of our parakeets ceres has changed from a vibrant, certain blue to a peach color (since purchasing the bird seven years ago), and is taking heavy interest in the nesting box recently put on the cage. I can’t imagine it’s possible for a parakeet to change gender, but that’s the only explanation I have. We have never had our birds sexed by a vet, as we live pretty close to the middle of nowhere. We’re sort of dumbfounded! Not that breeding our parakeets is out of the question– we’d be happy to have chicks!

Our other parakeet was home bred ten years ago and has always had the male purpleish cere, and is also taking interest in the nesting box.


Hi Valery,

Both of your birds are a bit too old to start breeding – this is the age that breeders start thinking of retiring a pair. Nesting and raising chicks is extremely taxing on a bird’s system and is too hard on older birds. I would remove the nest box. In the wild, birds only use a nest when breeding and raising chicks, then they abandon it. When they are provided one in captivity and they don’t need it for breeding, it can cause a lot of behavior issues and territorial behavior. Give them plenty of toys and foods to forage, but remove the box. If you want to breed parakeets, you need to start with a pair that is about a year old, let them bond, then give them a nest box when they are about a year and a half old.

As far as the cere goes, the color is not a true indicator because there are so many mutations. In some mutations, the cere may remain a lavender color in both sexes. When a cere changes color in an older bird, it can be an indicator of a health issue, stress, a hormone drop or simply be old age related.

I would consider both of your birds to be senior birds. It sounds like you take great care of them, to have them be so active still at their ages. Many parakeets are inbred or not fed a nutritious diet so the average lifespan of captive parakeets is 8-10 years. They are capable of living twice that long, so keep up the great care and take away the added stress of the nesting box.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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