Concerned About Budgie’s Cere Changing Color? 4 Reasons Why

As a budgie owner, one thing that can worry you is your bird’s cere dramatically turning from one color to another.A budgie’s cere is an essential organ that houses the nares and plays a vital role in the bird’s respiration and sense of smell. When this happens, the first question in your mind will be, “Why is my budgie’s cere changing colour?”

Your budgie’s cere is changing color due to age, sex hormone status, and overall health. Other triggers to cere color changes in budgies include diet and mutation effects. Regular color changes are common in female budgies.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the specific reasons why your budgie cere is changing color. From high reproductive hormones and sexual maturity to dietary effects, you’ll know it all. Stay tuned!

Why Is My Budgie’s Cere Changing Color? 4 Main Reasons 

Your budgie’s cere is changing color due to the following factors:

1. Increased Reproductive Hormones in Females

Hormonal changes are expected in a female budgie prepping for breeding. Increased reproductive hormone levels are the reason behind female budgie cere color change.

Estrogen is the hormone responsible for cere color change in female budgies.

Brown hypertrophy of the cere is the condition that indicates high estrogen levels in budgies. This means that with age the hormones will be the reason behind  female budgie cera turning brown and crusty 

Usually, the reproductive phase of a budgie is activated when you provide a high-fat diet. Moreover, short dark hours for budgie sleeping lead to brown cere hypertrophy. The cere may also develop a crusty texture during the same period. 

Also Read: Why Is My Budgie Panting? 6 Main Reasons

2. Sexual Maturity 

The typical cere color of a young budgie is pink for female budgies and purple for males. Yet, these colors can change as the birds undergo different growth stages. 

However, the young budgies may still have similar cere colors. In that case, the female one is differentiated by a white nostril area. 

When the budgie matures into an adult, males display a deep blue cere. Female budgies, on the other hand, have brown or tan ceres. These changes indicate your budgie has attained sexual maturity. 

3. Dietary Effects

A high-fat diet can turn the cere brown. So, you want to avoid giving your bird seed foods. Instead, provide high-quality pelleted food that has a good proportion of nutrients. 

4. Illness

Changes in a budgie’s cere color may also signal an illness. Take a pale or white cere, for example—it indicates a budgie suffering from liver disease, malnutrition, or stress. Obesity in budgies is dangerous and can also trigger a cere color change. 

A blackened cere may be due to a budgie suffering from a lack of vitamin A. On the other hand, testicular tumors specific to male budgies trigger white and red ceres. 

If your budgie has excess testosterone, its cere may not be as deep blue as expected but instead light blue. 

female budgie cere turning blue is also a sign of low estrogen levels and more testosterone levels.

Find out: What Color Should Budgie Poop Be? Tips to Identify Healthy Dropping

How Old Is a Budgie When the Cere Changes Color?

why is my budgie's cere changing color?

A budgie is four months old when the cere begins to change color. At less than four months, the cere is pink in females and males. Sometimes light blue or purple ceres occur in males.

After four months of age, a budgie cera starts changing colour to a blue. Female ceres also transition from juvenile pink into a white color. You may see some blue splashes on the female budgies’ white cere.

The blue splashes on the cere in females aren’t a cause for concern. They simply indicate a budgie that’s not an adult just yet. It also means that the bird has not attained sexual maturity. Your budgies changing color is not a case of concern yet.

Sexual maturity in small birds like budgies is achieved when the bird hits six months to one year. At this time, your budgie’s cere changes color from pink or white to tan. 

More precisely, the color transforms into a chocolate brown to indicate a fully mature and ready-to-breed bird at seven months. Your female budgie can now successfully mate and start laying eggs. However, don’t let your female budgie breed until one year old to prevent genetic mutations and stillborn or deformed chicks. 

As for males, the cere color changes to purplish after the first molt. But that is not the case with male Lutinos, Albinos, or Recessive pied budgies – their ceres remain pink even at puberty and into adulthood. 

Why Is My Budgie Cere Turning Brown? 

Your budgie cere is changing color to brown because of the following reasons:

  • A spike in estrogen levels: This is the reproductive phase your female budgie is probably undergoing. Thus, the cere’s color changes to brown to indicate that she is ready to breed. In many cases, the cere also becomes flaky or crusty. 
  • Nutritional deficiency: your female budgie’s cere will likely turn brown if its diet is incomplete. For example, a lack of vitamin A in the diet will result in a brown cere. When allocating food to your bird, be keen to give a balanced diet. Avian specialists highly recommend a pelleted diet. Remember to include fresh vegetables and fruits. 
  • Illness: A brown cere is an outright sign of an underlying health condition in male budgies. The standard cere color in males should be blue. Therefore, when it turns brown, the budgie is probably suffering from a condition referred to as the Sertoli Cell tumor of the testes. This disease involves excess secretion of estrogen hormone in male budgies.

Overall, while the brown cere color could be normal in female budgies, it’s a serious concern in males. Consequently. Ensure your avian veterinarian is informed for immediate action. 

Find Out: Do Budgies Need Nesting Material? 3 Best Nesting Materials for Budgies

What Does a Healthy Budgie Cere Look Like? 

A healthy budgie cere should be deep blue for male adults and light brown or beige for female adults. The table below illustrates the appearance of a healthy cere for budgies based on age.

Gender AgeNormal Cere ColorNormal Cere Appearance
Male AdultUniform deep blue colorWaxy and free of encrustation 
Female AdultLight brown or beigeWaxy and may have a crusty or flaky texture
Male/Female YoungLight pinkish for females and purplish or pinkish for malesSmooth and free of encrustation or flakiness 
Albino/LutinoAnyLight pink for most males and brownish for femalesFleshy and smooth in males; females have crusty cere textures when adults
The look of a healthy budgie cere based on age

That said, note that the appearance of a budgie’s cere can vary from one budgie to another. There are hundreds of budgie variations and so are their cere colors. 

Always keep your veterinarian updated the moment you see an awkward color change. The vet will check your budgie to determine whether it’s in good health or not. 

Can a Female Budgie Have a Blue Cere?

Sometimes female budgies can have a blue cere. However, the cere is not deep blue like the males but pale or light bluish. 

If you have mainstream thoughts on cere colors in budgies, it’s easy to get confused. But that’s normal and should not raise eyebrows except when the condition persists. 

The typical color of a female budgie cere should be tan at puberty and brown at full maturity. Of course, the young budgies have pinkish ceres. Again, blue ceres are characteristic of adult male budgies. 

The science behind cere color and appearance can be two-fold: 

  1. It is embedded in the balance between testosterone and estrogen. Females have brown ceres because they secrete enough estrogen for that color change. Males have blue ceres because they secrete enough testosterone. A female lacking sufficient estrogen and having more testosterone will likely have her cere turn light blue in the reproductive phase of its life cycle.
  1. A female budgie cere can turn blue due to rare genetic mutations. Triggered by the sex-linked recessive Opaline, the mutation affects the cere and feather colors. Barring genetic mutations, the blue color of the cere in female budgerigars shouldn’t stay long. If it does so, you have to contact your avian vet for a quick diagnosis. 

Why Is My Budgie’s Cere Turning White?

Budgie with white cere

Your budgie’s cere is turning white because it’s growing into an adult. Soon, the white cere will change to tan and later brown as it enters the reproductive phase. 

The following are the specific reasons your budgie’s cere is turning white:

  • It indicates that your budgie is growing older. After a female budgie lays eggs for quite some time, it loses plenty of calcified keratin protein. The result is its cere becoming more pale or white in color. The white color is prominent in the area where the cere meets with the facial feathers of the bird. 
  • A white cere in females also signifies that the breeding season is over. As mentioned, it has lost keratin on eggs – so it feels tired. 
  • A white cere could also be an indication of an infected budgie. Bacterial infections such as aspergillosis can grow in your budgie’s moist, warm nasal cavities, inflaming the nostrils. 

From there you can see a nasal discharge. On drying, the discharge leaves a white, crusty appearance causing the budgie’s cera to change color.

Male Budgie Cere Turning Brown and Crusty

Budgie with brown cere

A male budgie cere turning brown and crusty means the bird may be experiencing testicular tumors.

Testicular Tumors

Testicular tumors are male reproductive tumors of birds. They mostly affect budgerigars and pigeons. 

The most common tumor is the Sertoli cell tumor. Research by Dr. Drury Reavill, DVM, and Dr. Scott Echols, DVM, reveals that a male budgie with this condition has a high level of feminizing hormones. Hence, the reason for the cere color changing from blue to brown and becoming keratinized. 

As you already know, female budgies have their cere color change from tan to brown. This happens in readiness for the breeding season. So when it occurs in males, there is an urgent need to seek medication. 

When your budgie has testicular tumors, you may observe other accompanying symptoms like:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Dyspnea 
  • Slow heart rates, or cardiac changes

Fortunately, this disease can be treated when reported in time. Your avian vet could perform a surgical removal, which is the best treatment. Of course, the vet should be a specialist and must have the correct microsurgical equipment for the surgery

Inform your vet about the symptoms as soon as possible if your budgie is changing colors. Tumors can get catastrophic with time. 

Budgie Cere Color Chart

The color of budgie cere is different from one budgie to another. The table below summarizes budgie cere color chart.

Budgie Color Male Cere Color Female Cere Color 
BlueBlue Light blue, white or brown
Green Pinkish-purple or bluish-purpleLight brown or beige
YellowBright blue Light brown or beige
AlbinoPink or purple Tan or brownish
LutinoPink or purple Tan or brownish
GreyBlue or grayLight brown or beige
SpangleBlue or purplish-pinkLight brown or beige
OpalineBlueLight brown or beige
Pied Blue or purplish-pinkLight brown or beige
CinnamonPinkish-purple or bluish-purpleLight brown or beige
Budgie cere color chart

With this in mind, remember that budgie cere color depends on the budgie type or line, its health, reproductive state, age, and hormonal changes.

Final Thoughts

The question, “Why is my budgie cere changing color?” is a daunting one. While it might be normal for some color changes, others may indicate an underlying health condition. 

A good rule of thumb when you notice your budgie’s cere changing color is consulting your vet to rule out the cause. This way, you can rest assured your feathered friend is safe. 


How to tell a parakeet’s gender?

The parakeet’s gender can be distinguished easily by the color of their cera. A budgie’s cere is an essential organ that houses the nares and plays a vital role in the bird’s respiration and sense of smell.

When the budgie matures into an adult, males display a deep blue cere. Female budgies, on the other hand, have brown or tan ceres.

Why is my female budgie cere turning brown and crusty?

Your little budge can change colours with age as its hormones change. Female budgies turn brown after attaining sexual maturity. 

If you see your budgie’s colour change, don’t worry. It is totally natural.

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