Detrital zircon geochronology can help address stratigraphic- to lithospheric-scale geological questions. The approach is reliant on statistically robust, representative age distributions that fingerprint source areas. However, there is a range of biases that may influence any detrital age signature. Despite being a fundamental and controllable source of bias, handpicking of zircon grains has received surprisingly little attention. Here, we show statistically significant differences in age distributions between bulk-mounted and handpicked fractions from an unconsolidated heavy mineral sand deposit. Although there is no significant size difference between bulk-mounted and handpicked grains, there are significant differences in their aspect ratio, circularity and colour, which indicate inadvertent preferential visual selection of euhedral and coloured zircon grains. Grain colour comparisons between dated and bulk zircon fractions help quantify bias. Bulk-mounting is the preferred method to avoid human-induced selection bias in detrital zircon geochronology.