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Of cockatiels, atheists, and Christians

28 December 2012, 06:56

Here’s a thought: Just for the holiday season – let’s take a break from the never-ending laments and disputes between the Christians, atheists, scientists, racists, and politically incorrect comments on these pages.

Let’s learn something new and useful for a change, shall we? OK?

All rightee! Gather round children and pay attention.

How to Sex a Cockatiel

No, Sipho, this is not what you’re thinking – a cockatiel is much smaller than that goat you keep in your Gogo’s back yard. Besides, unlike goats, cockatiels are difficult to hold and can deliver a nasty bite to the pecker. To “sex” a bird is to determine whether it is male or female.

Just as with Christians and atheists, Jews and Philistines, gays and normal people, racists and whites – young male and female cockatiels look the same; until they have been through their first moult. (Moult from the Latin: nuda, meaning: to appear naked in public). Almost like coming out of the closet, so to speak.

Gray cockatiels are easily sexed once they have their adult plumage. No, Gert, “easily sexed” does not mean that they behave in the manner of that cheap floozy who works down at the hardware shop. It simply means that you can easily tell the male and female cockatiels apart.     

The colouring is more defined with the male having a bright yellow face – like that Chinese chappie at the sushi-shop. The female has a gray face with traces of yellow – looking as if she was stranded on the MSC Sinfonia in Table Bay for a week.   

The male's body is a dark gray but the female's appears duller with almost a brown tint to the gray. Also, until their first moult both sexes have barring patterns on the underside of their tail feathers. After the moult the male's tail feathers will be a solid gray colour with no barring, but the female's will remain patterned.

Now we come to some remarkable similarities between cockatiels and humans:

Males have a great vocal ability and swear and whistle a lot.

Males whistle and call, whereas females screech.

Females are often more likely to hiss and bite. (The bed can bite! Right, Sipho?)

Males tend to strut around – they lift their wings slightly, stick their chests out and parade, while swearing at the same time.

Any hint of barring, markings, or spots on the underside of the tail feathers or wings, when they are spread, indicates a female. You may want to hold the cockatiel (or moffie) upside down, near a bright light, in order to see the markings.

But, as in any test, there is a final check that will turn any atheist into a true believer:

Place a mirror in front of your cockatiel. How does it react?

A female will be fascinated – and the mirror should hold her attention for some time while she performs in front of it. A male tends to lose interest fairly quickly.

Now you all can have a go at me for being a homophobic, politically incorrect racist, unbelievable-believer, and sex maniac; whatever.

At least the cockatiels know where I stand.  

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