The genetic structure of a group or population of organisms can profoundly influence the potential for inbreeding and, through this, can affect both dispersal strategies and mating systems. We used estimates of genetic relatedness as well as likelihood-based methods to reconstruct social group composition and examine sex biases in dispersal in a Costa Rican population of white-throated magpie-jays (Calocitta formosa, Swainson 1827), one of the few birds suggested to have female-biased natal philopatry. We found that females within groups were more closely related than males, which is consistent with observational data indicating that males disperse upon maturity, whereas females tend to remain in their natal territories and act as helpers. In addition, males were generally unrelated to one another within groups, suggesting that males do not disperse with or towards relatives. Finally, within social groups, female helpers were less related to male than female breeders, suggesting greater male turnover within groups. This last result indicates that within the natal group, female offspring have more opportunities than males to mate with nonrelatives, which might help to explain the unusual pattern of female-biased philopatry and male-biased dispersal in this system. We suggest that the novel approach adopted here is likely to be particularly useful for short-term studies or those conducted on rare or difficult-to-observe species, as it allows one to establish general patterns of philopatry and genetic structure without the need for long-term monitoring of identifiable individuals.