TDDC Lab Finds Straw-headed bulbul Bird Sexing Method

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Bimo Aksono during discussion with Gunawan at TDCC UNAIR (Photo: Rio F. Rachman)

UNAIR NEWS – UNAIR Tropical Disease Diagnostic Center (TDDC) has succeeded in developing a method to determine bird sex on monomorphic birds (animals which their sexes are indistinguishable from its anatomical and morphological structures. The center of studies located at Institute Tropical Diseases (ITD) can determine if a bird is a male or a female by merely see their feathers’ color.

A breeder of straw headed bulbul from Wisma Mukti Sukolilo Surabaya, Gunawan, has proven the method. He said that technology development initiated by UNAIR has successfully debunked all myths. To date, the bird sexing of straw-headed bulbul only refer to its behaviour.

For example, some people say that a bigger head would mean a male, or if the tail shorter then it is a female. Those perspectives are almost 100 percent incorrect. Maybe, according to Gunawan, the closest thing to truth was only about the sound. There is a slight sound difference between the male and the female.

The problem is, the sound can only be detected by someone who has been in the field for a long time. Furthermore, the sound is only heard when the bird wants to mate. “The problem is, there is male bird which sounds like the female. So, researching through their sound is quite complicated,” he said.

The inability to determine the bird sex affects in various ways. Irresponsible myths are getting more popular. For example, some say that straw headed bulbul is difficult to breed, gets stressed easily and so on.

“In my opinion, the key to a successful straw-headed bulbul breeding is to know the sex of the bird. If we know it, pairing process will get easier. The economical benefit will be clear and can be measured. People out there mostly still use guessing approach. So, there can be a pair of homosexual in a cage. They will never lay eggs and breed of course,” said the man who has implemented the technology since 2014.

TDDC researcher, Eduardus Bimo Aksono explained that the method UNAIR used is simple and safe. There is no blood sample taking or even treatments to the bird diagnosed. A feather, even the fallen one, can be used as the object of the research.
The technology is not only for straw-headed bulbul but also for other birds. “From the feather, we will see the chromosomes. If they are heterozygous or X and W, the bird is female. If the chromosomes are homozygous or Z, it is a male bird,” said the secretary of Information and Public Relations Center.

The lecturer from Faculty of Veterinary Medicine conveyed that this method is proven to be useful in the community. Economically, it has been able to push up the price of the bird. So, the researchers’ contributions have already been significant for the birds’ breeder or hobbyist. (*)

Author: Rio F. Rachman

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