Sun Conure DNA Testing to find sex of your pet bird

My Sun Conure is a female

My Sun Conure is a female

Every once is a while I run across someone that doesn’t know the sex of their Sun Conure and are completely surprised to find that the pet bird that they thought was a he has laid an egg. The easiest way to verify sex of your bird is through parrot DNA Testing.  Since it is difficult to distinguish the sex of a Sun Conure without DNA testing, egg laying by the conure must come as a complete shock to the owner.

Goldie my Sun Conure is a female for sure. I purchased her knowing that she was a female as she had been sexed by DNA testing as a chick. She also of course lays eggs once in a while, but she did not start that until she was around 3 years old. So if she had not been sexed as a chick I too could have been surprised.

Sun Conures are monomorphic which means that both the male and female Sun Conure have similar features and are impossible to tell apart. When a species is sexually dimorphic then the sexes has some different coloring or markings. Parrotlets are dimorphic for example. My parrotlets, one male and one female have characteristic male and female markings and color. My male parrotlet for example has a dark turquoise blue marking on his rump and my female does not have this.

To conduct DNA testing you can have the feathers tested, or use blood for DNA testing. To use the feathers the testing companies primarily recommend 4-6 feathers on the breast be pulled and sent in with the testing kit that you have to send in for. It is possible however that the quality of the feathers may prohibit finding enough DNA for the test in some cases. Some people also feel that pulling feathers could be painful for the bird even though the breast area is really the least sensitive area.

For the blood test it is merely a matter of clipping one toenail just slightly below where it should normally be cut. This should cause only just enough blood by squeezing the nail gently for 2 drops to be dabbed on a card included in a testing kit from the testing company. Kwik Stop Powder or other blood clotting medication should be on hand in case as a precaution to prevent bleeding.

If you feel squeamish about performing either method, some professional bird groomers can get the blood for you in the course of regular grooming, or you can of course take your bird to an avian vet. There are some avian vets that sometimes perform surgical sexing which can be stressful for the bird unless it is needed for some other medical reason. DNA sexing is accurate and not really that stressful for the most part, plus it is relatively inexpensive and easy if done right.

I myself recommend that if you have any anxiety about DNA testing to have it done by a professional because if you don’t follow the instructions it can produce inconclusive results or force multiple tests. I know for example that it took me almost a year and many trips to the bird groomer before I felt comfortable enough to trim my parrotlet’s wings myself.

Of course unless you want to breed the Sun Conure then knowing the sex of the bird is not really that important. So you can wait to see if the bird will lay eggs-some sun conures I have heard do not lay eggs until even as late as 5 or 6 years-old. Then after waiting you might just have to change Sunny’s name to Sunflower is all.

Pet Bird DNA Testing

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