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Gender Identification of Canaries

Gender Identification of Canaries

The information is from – Peter Ailwooda and James Hart:

What gender is my Canary; Boy or Girl, Hen or Cock.

It is very difficult to tell the gender of a canary at first glance and many an expert has come to grief by getting it wrong. Remember that during the moult and winter the cock bird sings less and sometimes not at all. What I will not be covering in this section is Sex-linked which means in certain circumstances you can tell the gender by the coloring of the parents. This is particularly significant for Cinnamon.

The Old Fashioned Way

Hen / Girl

The certain way to tell a Hen Canary is if it lays an egg, then there is no doubt. Some breeders even put a pink split ring on the opposite leg to the closed ring to give the Hen a permanent marker. If your Hen sings its a good chance its not a hen, read on.

Cock / Boy

There is no certain way to say a cock is a cock, however if the Fife Canary sings with gusto you have a 99.999’% chance of being a cock.

Very occasionally you will get a Hen bird that sings but, the song is usually weak and broken. The best way I have found to get a cock bird to sing, is in spring, place the bird in a small cage, in a sheltered sunny spot; usually a healthy cock bird will sing within minutes. The problem you have, is that if it does not sing it does not make it a Hen as some cocks may either be unfit or just stubborn. Luckily the Fife Canary cock usually sings.

Checking the Vent / Cloaca:

The sex organs of the canary do not have the distinct differences as with mammals and this method is only reliable in the breeding season when the bird is fit and ready to breed. You blow away the feathers of the vent Cock bird the skin leading up to the vent is elongated and quite prominent and the vent itself is still narrow. Hen bird the skin leading up to the vent is flat or only just raised and the vent itself is rounder and flatter. I must stress that the differences are not always evident and only occur at the height of the breeding season.

Sexing Young Canaries:

James Anagnos also found a very unusual way of sexing young chicks still in the nest:

“[S]exing canaries is very easy to do when the young birds are still in the nest, when [their] first feathers come in and their wings [still look like] straws. Just tap the nest with your finger and the female birds will just stay there looking at you, [while] the male birds will all put [their] heads down and stick [their behinds] up in the air. [T]his is 100 % foolproof. Every bird that put his head down is a male.”


If your loaded with money and nothing better to spend it, on you can take your bird to a vet with a suitable ultra sound and he can tell you within minutes what sex.


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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