Sunday, March 06, 2011

Pale Male, Pale Beauty, and Quicksilver's Vent

Photo courtesy of

Pale Male folds his wings and brakes. I'd seen abrupt descents, in this case to the Carlyle, from a distance, but this photo shows the fold and angle of the wings necessary to make it happen. Pale Male is indeed a master flyer.

Photo courtesy of

A little later Pale Male and Pale Beauty copulate on the ledge above the balcony rail on Linda, 920 Fifth Ave., on which Pale Male so often perches to survey his domain.

Looking at this pair of nether regions, reminded me that I had a question about another nether region.

Quicksilver's vent.

Now it is a bit of African Grey owner folk wisdom that an owner can sex their mature African Grey by looking at the bird's vent. If there are red feathers beside it the parrot is thought to be male. If no pink or red is in the area the bird is thought to be female.

Silver is definitely male. He had a blood test done for DNA. But a blood test isn't all that fun for a bird. At the time he had some health issues so he had to have blood drawn anyway, the vein in their neck is used, so we just added the test for sexing onto the list.

The nest issue is of course is that the bird has to be sexually mature. By the time a Grey is sexually mature, around 7 to 9 years, if he's perched somewhere and you attempt to get your eyes enough below his tail to look, he turns around rapidly and looks at you like, "WHAT are you DOING?

You haven't been creeping around before looking under his tail previously, and as these birds are prey animals they don't really like anybody to touch their tail in the first place, and I assume there is a natural suspicion that you might be up to no good back there doing whatever it is you're doing.

And when Silver is wrapped in a towel at the vet's office for an exam, he is growling and struggling so, or running around the floor like a mad thing or flying circles around the light fixture in the ceiling that I've never remembered to take a peek.

So the other day when he was climbing up a seated friend's bluejeans to say hello, and paying me no never mind, I grabbed the camera. He did turn his head around to check what I was doing when I got low and close but if he had turned completely around, as he normally would have, he'd have lost his grip on the cloth, ended up on the floor (only less than a foot away) but he was bound and determined to make the climb for some tickles so I got the shot.

And indeed Silver who is a male African Grey does have reddish feathers around his vent.

Now we need some other Greys to add to the sample. If you have or if you know any African Grey Parrots, not all are as concerned with their dignity as Silver is, so I hope you'll have an easier time getting a look, I'd like to know what you find out.

They have to be sexually mature, and it would be helpful if their sex was known by other means. Obviously in females they may have laid an egg and in males there are other behaviors that owners may have noticed and of course they can now sex a bird with feathers instead of blood, though that test is not thought to be nearly as reliable. And there is the blood test. By what means the bird was sexed would also be helpful with your information.

Let me know. And thanks in advance for scrutinizing parrot vents. (By the way if the vent is dirty the bird is ill and should immediately see a vet.)

Donegal Browne

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