How to Tell the Difference Between Male & Female Finches

Written by claire mcadams
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How to Tell the Difference Between Male & Female Finches
(gold finch image by Studio Pookini from

Finches are small, seed-eating birds that thrive both in the wild and in captivity. Beloved by breeders and pet owners for their melodic songs and striking colours, these birds come in many varieties, both natural and mutated, and are generally easy to care for. In some varieties, however, recognising the males from the females can be difficult as there may be few or no visual markers. In others, the physical characteristics of the cock and hen are quite distinct, which allow for easy sex identification.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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    Determine the sex of a Society finch by its behaviour. The society finch, or Lonchura domestica, is a small, domestic variety of the bird. Some of the many variations of the society finch include the White Rumped Mannikin, Grand Mannikin and the Java Sparrow. The male and female society finches are strikingly similar in appearance, therefore it is necessary to observe the bird's mating behaviour to determine the sex. While both the male and female society finches make chirping noises, only the male truly sings. If the male is in the presence of a female, he will also perform a mating display or dance that involves extending his neck and fluffing his feathers.

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    Determine the sex of a Zebra finch by physical characteristics. The Florida Fancy, the Penguin and the Timor are some of the many varieties of the zebra finch. The male and female zebra finch have distinct physical characteristics that make it easy to tell them apart. The beak of the male is red or bright orange. Males also have a strip of black feathers across their breasts, a series of white spots on their flanks and orange cheek patches. The female lacks these characteristics and her beak is more muted in colour.

  3. 3

    Determine the sex of a Gouldian finch through physical markings. The Gouldian finch, or Chloebia Gouldbiae, is one of the more vibrantly coloured varieties of the finch. The naturally occurring varieties of the gouldian are the Red-headed, Black-headed and the Yellow-headed, although there are many other mutated varieties included blue- and yellow-bodied varieties. The Gouldian cock can be determined by observing the vibrancy of his colouration, which will be much more saturated than the hen. Also, his centre tail feather is significantly longer than that of the female.

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    Determine the sex of the strawberry finch by colour during mating season. During the breeding season, the cock's head, back and wings will turn dark reddish-brown while the rest of his body will be bright red with white spots. When not breeding, his colouration will be similar to the hen's, with a brown top and yellow underbelly. If bred in captivity, the vibrancy of the male's colouration will fade with each moult.

  5. 5

    Determine the sex of the Pintail Whydah by colour and length. The Vidua macroura, or Pintail Whydah, takes its common name from a Nigerian town where these birds are plentiful. The cock is recognisable by its shiny black top and white underbelly. His wings also bear a white stripe. During mating season, the cock's tail reaches an average length of 10 inches, bring the overall length of the male to about 13 inches. The length of the non-breeding male averages 6 inches. The female Pintail Whydah, however, is a tawny-brown colour with black spots. She averages 5 inches long.

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