Female and male birds: how to tell the difference?

Why is there often such a difference between female and male birds? And how do you distinguish them from each other? Find out in this blog post.

In the bird kingdom, the females choose which males to mate with, and they have a clear preference for brightly coloured mates. Beyond this, it is usually the females that brood: their muted colors provide excellent camouflage, while the variegated and brightly colored males more easily attract predators. But how do you spot the difference between male and female birds? And what are these differences exactly?

Striking difference


Males: Jet black birds with a yellow ring around the eyes and a striking orange-yellow bill.

Females: Gray brown with a smooth back and light spots or stripes on the belly, chest and throat.

House sparrow

Males: rust brown back and sand colored belly. Dark gray to black crown, throat, face and bill. The dark brown wings have a white stripe.

Females: Light brown birds with sturdy body and some dark and light accents on the back and wings.


Males: Blue-grey head, orange-red breast and cheeks. Bright contrasting black and white wings.

Females: These birds resemble a house sparrow, the only distinction is in the two white stripes on their wings.


Males: black head, chin and tail, and black wings with a white band. The back is blue-grey, the belly and throat are striking salmon pink.

Females: These birds have the same markings as their male counterparts, but the difference is that their colors are much lighter.


Males: olive green birds. The rump and part of the tail and wing feathers are bright yellow.

Females: paler, paler grey-green.

Little visible difference

Great tit

The sole visible difference between male and female birds is their 'tie': in males, the stripe that extends down from the throat is thick and continuous, in females it is thinner and less consistent.

Blue tit

The blue tit's characteristic blue crown is slightly brighter in the male birds, but otherwise both sexes are almost identical.

No visible difference


Both males and females have the characteristic variegated plumage. The only difference is in the size: male magpies can be up to 10% larger than females.

In a number of other birds, such as the jay, jackdaw and raven, there is no sexual dimorphism: males and females look the same.

Want to see the difference for yourself?

During the breeding season, you can attract both male and female birds with protein-rich food. It provides your garden birds with extra energy during this demanding period.

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