Please keep in mind there are hundreds of species of finches in the world, and not all can be sexed visually. Many will also only come into their male/female colors during the breeding season. Now for some of the more commonly kept pet finch species I will attempt to explain what to look for. The few photos I have provided are of extreme examples of the differences in the sexes. Many birds are very subtle in their differences.
Species currently listed here:
Zebra, Gouldian, Owl, Orange Cheek Waxbills, Green Singers, European Goldfinches, Weavers, Whydahs, Blue Cap Cordon Bleus, Red Cheek Cordon Bleus, Saffrons, Java Rice, Avrican Red Heads, Strawberry Finches
- Males: Red/dark orange beak, Black Breast Bar, Orange Cheeks, Brown with white spots on the flanks (sides). Males also sing.
- Females: Orange beak, total lack of male colors except the occasional black feather on the breast.
Note: Some Zebra finch mutations such as the 'white' can only be sexed by beak color. In black cheeks, both sexes have the black cheek colors but only the males have the breast and flank markings.
- Purple Breasts: In males the purple breast color will be much darker then in females.
- White Breasts: The breasts are no different.
Note: the trick to white breasted Gouldians is to look at the blue ring around their head. In the male the blue ring is slightly larger and brighter. Also, when in breeding condition the female's beak will turn black.
- Males: Over all brighter in color with a tad more green color especially in the breast area. Males Sing alot.
- Females: Little less over all green. They also have a darker area, like a ring or necklace around the neck/breast.
- Males: Look to the red face mask, where it meets the eyes. In males the red color will extend to the back end of the eye or further and totally surrounding the eye.
- Females: The red mask is often the same color and brightness as the males but it will not extend as far to the eyes. It'll stop at the front of the eye, or midway around the eye.
Blue Cap Cordon Bleus:
Males will have a blue head, a very bright blue head in fact. Females heads are more of a blue and brown color. This sexing method is best used for adult birds.
Red Cheeked Cordon Bleus:
Also very easy to sex at a glance. Males will have the bright red cheeks and females will not. Also the males are a brighter blue over all than the females.
Owls can be tricky to sex, especially if they are very young and not in full color yet. In adult birds the males lower breast bar will be thicker than the females. Also the males face will be a slightly brighter white and the white area will be a bit larger than the females.
African Red Heads:
These are easy to sex. Males have the red head where females do not. Both birds are the same size and have the same over all body color and pattern.
Java Rice Finches:
Not easy to sex, but it's possible. Look straight down at the top of their heads, the males cap will be larger (wider) than the females. This works for all the mutations that have the cap markings. When sexing Whites is sometimes easier to go by beak size or over all head size. Males, of course are larger.
Orange Cheek Waxbills:
These are also very hard to sex and require an experienced eye and healthy birds. Typically the male will have a slightly larger orange cheek than the female. The males also have a slightly larger and brighter white/grey area just below the lower mandible.
Like the Weavers and Whydahs, the Strawberry males can only be visually sexed from the females during the breeding season. It's the males breeding color that also gives the species it's name. The male will become bright red, brown, and have white spots. Both sexes can and do sing.
All male weavers will display bright solid colors when in breeding condition. They are usually red, or yellow, or orange and black. The males look like the females when not in breeding condition. A clue to sexing them when they do look alike is by behavior. Males will always weave nests, females will not.
Like the Weavers all Whydah males will have bright colorful feathers plus a long fancy tail when in breeding condition. All lose the tail feathers after the start of the breeding season and most will look very much like the females when not in a breeding season.
Males will be slightly brighter and have over all more yellow color to them than the females. Also look at the foreheads. The male's orange spot will be a little larger and brighter than the females.
Species that can not be visually sexed: Society, St. Helena Waxbills, Lavender Waxbills, Tri-color Nuns, Spice Finches.