The bleu waxbill or cordon bleu waxbill is a genus of small finches native to Africa. With three recognized species, including the blue-capped cordon bleu waxbill (Uraeginthus cyanocephala), the blue-breasted cordon bleu waxbill (Uraeginthus angolensis), and the red-cheeked cordon bleu waxbill (Uraeginthus bengalus), the female finches of all these species have striking similarity with each other. The cocks have more extensive blue feathering, more intense and brighter than the hens.
|Other Names||Blue-breasted: Southern blue waxbills, Blue-breasted cordon bleu finches, Blue waxbill; Red-cheeked: Abyssinian Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Red-cheeked Blue Waxbill; Blue-capped: Blue-headed Cordon Bleu, Blue-headed Waxbill|
|Size||10-12.5 cm (4-5 inches) in length|
|Weight||10-13 g (0.3-0.5 oz)|
|Color||Blue-breasted: uniformly brown plumage above with pale blue chest, throat, face, tail and yellowish/buff abdomen; Red-cheeked: Resemble the blue-breasted waxbills with distinctively red patched cheeks in males; Blue-capped: Sky blue head, tail, and body with fawn/beige wings, back, and underbelly.|
|Distribution||Blue-breasted: across Southern Africa; Blue-capped: central and eastern Africa; Red-cheeked: across Central Africa|
|Habitat||Dry woodland regions, thorn scrub country, the savannas, and in roadsides or villages of tropical Africa|
|Song||A soft, high-pitched piping call, transcribed as “seee-seee”; a more complex song with 4-6 high-pitched notes.|
|Brooding time||11-14 days from incubation|
|Fledging||14-19 days of age|
|First molt||Starts when 3.5 months old and ends around 5.5 months|
|Sexual Maturity||9-12 months of age|
|Diet||Small seeds, millets, seeding grasses, and live food (fruit fly larva, small mealworms, waxworms, and ant eggs)|
|IUCN Conservation Status||Least Concern|
Blue-breasted waxbills are known to have four recognized subspecies:
- Uraeginthus angolensis angolensis
- Uraeginthus angolensis niassensis
- Uraeginthus angolensis natalensis
- Uraeginthus angolensis cyanopleurus
The Red-cheeked waxbills have five recognized subspecies including:
- Uraeginthus bengalus bengalus
- Uraeginthus bengalus ugogoensis
- Uraeginthus bengalus brunneigularis
- Uraeginthus bengalus littoralis
- Uraeginthus bengalus katangae
Unlike the red-cheeked and blue-breasted species, the blue-capped waxbills do not have any recognized subspecies.
Although no mutations have occurred in the Blue-breasted Cordon Bleu Waxbill and the Blue-capped Cordon Bleu Waxbill, the Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu Waxbill has several mutations, including the “pied” and the “white” varieties.
Characterized by melodious calls and striking coloration, cordon bleus are a common choice of pets for bird lovers.
These birds thrive in spacious flight cages or large planted aviaries that provide them with ample hiding opportunities, particularly during their breeding period. Each breeding pair should be kept in a 36 inches X 16 inches X 16 inches cage. Confining them to small cages makes them bored and aggressive, which might lead to feather plucking issues. Horizontal bars should be placed in their aviaries for providing them with comfortable roosting spots.
Cordon Bleus accept wicker nests or half-open finch nest boxes for nesting. Fine grass, pale feathers, coconut fibers, and other nesting materials should be provided, especially throughout incubation. They do not like their nests being disturbed or inspected when nesting. Therefore, placement of nest boxes in aviaries should be considered carefully.
They are a delicate species that require somewhat warm, dry environment to survive. Their enclosure should be kept at an ambient temperature, no cooler than 18°C (65 °F). During winter months, their flights and aviaries should be kept indoors.
Being peaceful and quiet, this finch species is suited for mixed aviaries. However, they are protective of their nests and their number should not be more than the other bird species in the mixed aviaries. If housed together, the males often become aggressive towards each other in the company of females, particularly during breeding season.
In addition to the seeds, greens, and insects that constitute their diet in the wild, these birds should also be provided with plenty of grit, cuttlebone, and fresh water when kept in captivity. Carrot tops, broccoli tops, egg food, spray millet, chickweed, spinach, and lettuce can be provided frequently.
Like other finch species, the cordon bleus are prone to obesity. Keeping them in large flight cages or aviaries give them enough room to fly, providing them the necessary amount of exercise.
Cordon bleu waxbills generally prefer regular bathing, which makes it imperative for the owners to keep shallow containers containing fresh bathing water inside their enclosures.
The cordon bleus are susceptible to worms and parasitic infections, making appropriate worming programs a must for the aviaries.
A pair of cordon bleu waxbills is going to cost you around $100.
- Although both the sexes can sing, the males have a more complex and longer song. A courtship display is generally exhibited while the cocks sing their songs.
- Unlike other finch species, they avoid roosting in their nests except when they are brooding young or incubating eggs.
- The male usually takes part in “sexual chasing”, an act in which the hen is pecked at and chased by the cock, particularly when another male interrupts their courtship display.