Avian DNA Sexing
To book a DNA test, please book a bird grooming and state in the notes that you would like a DNA test. We can perform other grooming services during this appointment as well. To book a bird grooming, please click here.
Procedures upon arrival are the same as bird grooming. If you are unfamiliar with our process, please read the instructions on the grooming page. Your bird MUST arrive in a suitable carrier. If your bird does not arrive in a suitable carrier we may not be able to provide these services. We do suggest that your bird is banded if you are going to have them DNA tested. This is important for legitimizing the result on the certificate. For more information about banding, read this. DNA sexing costs $30 per test.
We generally receive the results in about a week, this does sometimes take longer though. You also get a certificate, however this may take up to 6 weeks to receive.
Exotic Wings collects a small amount of blood as a sample for the test. We make every effort for the sample collection to go as fast and smoothly as possible. In most cases, it takes longer to write on the sample card than it does to collect the sample. DNA testing is highly accurate, and by far the most popular method for determining male from female in conures, Senegal parrots and other Poicephalus, Amazon parrots, and all other monomorphic species. DNA testing is also popular in dimorphic species which appear monomorphic when immature. DNA testing is considerably less invasive than other options.
The sample is sent to Health Gene Laboratories where they run the test and determine a result. Health Gene has conducted tens, if not hundreds-of-thousands of DNA tests. They are industry leaders and undoubtedly the best at what they do. They are so confident in their testing that if another lab were to yield a contradicting result they will re-test the bird free of charge!
You may be wondering what makes DNA based avian sexing so accurate. The answer can be found in the technology underlying this approach. Advances in molecular diagnostics have brought a technique known as PCR to the forefront of DNA diagnostics. Using PCR, differences in the DNA of male and female birds can be amplified and detected in the laboratory.
DNA based avian sexing utilizes the fact that male and female birds have different genes or chromosomes, much like mammals. The only difference is that the female bird (carrying a ZW chromosome pair) determines the sex of the offspring, since the male (carrying a ZZ chromosome pair) can only contribute a 'Z' chromosome (this is just the opposite of what occurs in humans). Using PCR in the laboratory, a region of DNA that differs in size between the Z and W chromosomes is amplified. Thus, this method yields one PCR product for males and two PCR products for females, making visual detection in the laboratory easy.