Sexual dimorphism in Lizard canaries: turning theory into practice

Theory is when you know something, but it doesn’t work. Practice is when something works, but you don’t know why (anon).

In Lizard canary basics, Part 7, I described sexual dimorphism in the Lizard canary; in other words, how to distinguish males from females.  In this post, I am going to invite you to put that theoretical knowledge to the test.  If it works, and you understand why it works, you will have mastered one of the fundamental characteristics of the Lizard canary.

It is aimed at beginners and novices, but even more advanced breeders may find some of the later tests an interesting challenge.  I am going to present you with a series of photographs of two similar Lizard canaries, one is a male and the other a female.  All you need to do is to identify which is which.

1.  Here are two clear cap gold Lizard canaries: can you tell which is the male and which is the female?

Clear cap gold Lizard canaries: which is male, which is female?

2.  Now two non cap silvers.  Same question.

2. Non cap silver Lizard canaries

3.  Here are two broken cap gold Lizard canaries:

3. Broken cap gold Lizard canaries

Now I’m going to make things a little more difficult.  With experience, it is easy to recognise the gender of 99% of all the Lizards on sight, but there are always a few exceptions.  These are the 50/50 birds that are tricky to sex, especially for beginners, but they can sometimes confuse champion exhibitors too.  The uncertainty usually arises from either the lack of rowings in hens, or a profusion of rowings in cocks.  Well coloured hens can also cause confusion, as can poorly coloured cocks.  Have a go at these:

4.  Two broken cap gold Lizard canaries

5. Broken cap gold Lizard canaries

5.  Two clear cap silver Lizard canaries:

Clear cap silver Lizard canaries

6.  Two broken cap silver Lizard canaries:

Broken cap silver Lizard canaries

7.  Finally, look at the bird at the head of this article.  Is it a male or a female?

Answers in a future post.

13 thoughts on “Sexual dimorphism in Lizard canaries: turning theory into practice

  1. Can’t wait for the results, would it be possible for me to send you a picture of one of my not sure ones. Mike.

  2. Huw,

    Whilst it is difficult from pictures/photographs and I always like to see the full head and cap here are my deliberations

    1) A, Cock B, Hen
    2) A, Hen B, Cock
    3) A, Cock B, Hen
    4) A, Hen B, Cock
    5 A, Cock B, Hen
    6) A, Hen B, Cock

    Nigel,s bird I believe is a cock bird


  3. I will have a go and if my call is as good as when I visually sex goldfinches by the mask it will be a disaster on anything that is a bit challenging

    Nigel’s bird cock
    1. cock – hen
    2. hen – cock
    3. cock – hen
    4. hen – cock
    5. cock – hen
    6. hen – cock

    1. I’m familiar with using the mask to sex goldfinches, but have never heard of it being applied to Lizard canaries. Could you tell us more?

  4. I use the mask, nasal hairs and wing butts for sexing my goldfinches but often get it wrong when using just the mask. I was suggesting that I might just get your little test wrong too.

  5. Nice site, nice pictures.
    According to your premisses Nigel’s colourfed bird is female in my eyes.
    1 male – female
    2 female – male
    3 male – female
    4 female – male
    5 male – female
    6 male – female

    After 30 years of lizard breeding, I still have difficulty sexing them at an age less than 7 month’s.
    One even cannot trust them seeing singing. During certain months of the year, depending hormones even females sing loud and strong in certain enviroments. Although the female canary call “tweeeeeet” is a reminder.
    In my experience young females tend to be much “fatter” (yellow fat on throat and belly) then males kept in the same conditions.
    Only at the start (easterday) of the first breeding season one can be sure for 95%, judging and blowing the “tap” and cloaca.
    In september I start a first strong selection (80% has to go) on the yearlings, regardless of sex. I strive at an 80% silvers for next years breeding stock. Gold sires need extra hard judging, specially on their overall size. I rarely dismiss older birds (maybe male sires with bad attitudes). Even 5 or 6 year old birds give full nests, some males are 9 years old. Don’t be afraid of inbreeding (father-daughter, sister-brother) when you are able to select fierce.

    Good luck, everybody breeding the fine spangled ones.

  6. After only recently buying four pairs of Lizards ( last October), I thought I had done well with getting the first five answers correct but went for cock and then hen for question 6 and 7.
    I have a cock and hen that I still can’t work out if they are silver or gold no matter how many times I look at them.


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