MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Can you identify a pigeon as male or female from its physical characteristi

Date: Tue May 30 10:15:20 2000
Posted By: James Cotton, Graduate Student
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 952024219.Zo

Dear Debby,

Here are some answers to your question from A Pigeon fancier's discussion board. Some of them don't sound very scientific (check out the paperclip idea). It sounds like sexing pigeons isn't easy, particularly if you haven't got any other pigeons for comparison, so you could try asking on this discussion board for further help, if you need it - they're probably the experts on this one! It also seems to depend on the variety of pigeon you have. Take a look around this discussion board anyway.

(IN GENERAL) I haven't as yet found anyone that can be exactly sure of sexing youngsters, but I find that I can mostly tell by their behaviour when they are over five to six weeks old. Cocks are by far the more pushy especially if they are in good health, they are also usually bigger than the hen especially when compared to a sister that's hatched with them. I have been told to look at the head, the cock is much flatter whereas the hen is more rounded. This appears true on several in many insistances but there are many occasions where I have been fooled.

(FOR KING PIGEONS) As far as the sexing goes, experience will show you. When they pair up you can see the difference. Male is a bigger bird with a bigger head, bigger breast.

(FOR FANTAILS) With regard to sexing fantails, we have noticed that the tails of our male birds are held in a more upright position than that of the females. Whether this is a foolproof way of determining sex I do not know, but in our case it works every time!

(GENERAL) I'll tell you how I sex everything.I take a paper clip and tie it on the end of a piece of feed bag string and hold it about 4 inches over the birds tail end and if it goes in a circle it is a female ,if it goes back and forth it is a male,believe it or not it even works on eggs as soon as they are born. Correction, I meant to say ,hold the string 4 inches from the clip over the bird, you should touch the bird with the paper clip at the end of the string and lift it about a half an inch real steady and after perhaps 20 to 30 seconds you will see it move in a circle for female and back and forth for male.try it on a woman or a man around the wrist,you'll see it works on everything,dogs and all,even a freshly laid egg.

Here's another answer from this page

Question: How do I tell males from females? Answer: It's a harder question than you know. Trouble is, it's fairly easy to spot sex differences in homer or roller type birds and a lot harder in some of the fancy show breeds - Basic differences are size; cocks are usually a bit larger and more robust; hens a bit finer, especially in the head. Best differences are behavioral or, occasionally, color, e.g., an ash-red (brick red) bird with any black flecking in the ashy color of the wings or tail is invariably a male. Birds without such black flecking may be either, but about 70% will be female just because of the breeding practices of most guys. Behavioral differences are easy to note once you've gotten to know your birds. Cocks strut, coo and spread their tail into a full half moon shape and often turn a full circle when they do; females will swell their crops with some air but usually stand at a more upright angle (45 degrees or so) when they do it, as opposed to the cock who almost bows to the floor. In a mated pair, cocks sit on the nest from about 10 am to 5 pm; hens the rest of the time. Cocks drink by sticking their beak in the water almost up to their eyes and gulping; hens - except when desperately thirsty ususally tend to drink by sticking on the first half of their beak in the water and almost sip it, as opposed to the cock's gulp. Hope this helps.

There is also a guide to pigeon breeds and more about behavioural sexing in doves (which are very closely related). Finally, Project PigeonWatch gives some more behavioural pointers to sexing pigeons.

I hope at least one of these sites can help you in working out the gender of your bird. Hope you enjoy your feathered friend,

Yours, James

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