Sexing Cockatiels Visually

With so many mutations, it can be difficult to know what to look for when trying to sex your cockatiel. The following chart tells you what to look for with each color mutation.

Don’t know your bird’s mutation?

Some visual sexing rules:

  • Applies only to birds that have gone through their first molt.
  • Crest length is not accurate.
  • Cheek patch intensity is not accurate.
  • Mutations that cannot be sexed visually should be sexed by behavior


Mutation Male Female
Normal, Cinnamon, Fawn Yellow head
No barring on tail.tiel_lefty 
Looks exactly like juvenile
Head may have a few flecks of yellow
Tail barring remains.melonie3
Pearl Pearls lost or diminished after first molt. Eventually all will be lost, making the bird look like a normal male (see above). Please note that pearl pied males can retain their pearl markings. Pearls retained throughout entire life.


Whiteface White head
No barring on tail.ralphie1
Looks exactly like juvenile.
Head may have a few flecks of white.
Tail barring remains.tiel03_wfsplitpied
Yellowface Yellow head
No barring on tail
Looks exactly like juvenile
Head may have a few flecks of yellow
Tail barring remains

The following mutations can be sexed by DNA or behavior:

Pied Pied breaks all the rules. Save yourself the stress and just DNA.
Lutino Really difficult unless you know what you’re doing. Females retain barring, but they can be hard to see. If the bird is lutino pied you’re not going to see bars.
Albino Cannot be visually sexed.

© 1997-2016 by Karen Trinkaus. May not be reprinted or used in any way without the author’s permission.

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