Species group: Cordon Bleus and Grenadiers
Other common names: Blue-headed Cordon Bleu; Blue-headed Waxbill; Blue-capped Waxbill
Scientific name: Uraeginthus cyanocephalus
The Blue-capped Cordon Bleu is a lovely finch distinguished by its robin egg's blue plumage. The adult male is a splendid bird with a blue head, breast, flanks, and tail which contrast nicely with the soft brown wings and belly patch. The female is substantially browner but still has a pleasant blue face.
The Blue-capped Cordon Bleu comes from East Africa, where it can be found feeding on the ground in dryer regions, particularly open grassy areas where they can pick up seed. The wild birds are regarded as being somewhat more cautious than the bold, approachable Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu, at least in Kenya, where the Blue-capped Cordon Bleu and one subspecies of the Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu, U. b. bengalus, may both be observed.
A member of the Cordon Bleu finch group, Blue-capped adults are readily distinguished from Red-cheeked and Blue-breasted adults. Of course, the male Red-cheek has the red cheek patch which the Blue-cap lacks. The female Red-cheek actually looks much like a male Blue-cap – except she has a brown crown and he, as his name suggests, has a blue crown. The female Blue-capped is the brownest of the adults, with some blue extending from her face to create a small bib but clearly lacking the broad blue breast of the Red-cheek female. Blue-caps, even the males, have at least some area of rich, soft brown on their underparts, whereas the Blue-breasted Cordon Bleus have lighter areas down below.
10 grams (0.35 oz.)
13 centimeters (5.1 in.)
7 - 9 years
Behavior / temperament:
The Blue-capped Cordon Bleu may be quite territorial in breeding season. Successful breeders have suggested cage-breeding set-ups that allow the pairs to hear but not see each other, since the males may become very angry if they see another male in the presence of their mate. The sight of a rival could even cause a male to chase or attack his own female, perhaps because he's trying to get her away from the other guy. Pairs may also become extremely nervous at that time, and they may toss their youngsters if the human keeper or a nosy aviary mate like a Zebra Finch interferes too much. If your intent is to breed this species, it is probably not a good idea to place them in a mixed species aviary.
Each pair of Blue-capped Cordon Bleus requires its own cage or flight. They need more room than might seem reasonable, because they exercise by flying and they also require some planted greenery in the cage or flight to give them a feeling of security. One breeder suggests a minimum size of 4' long by 2' feet wide and 2' tall, with a minimum bar spacing of ½” wide. Make sure that you have a nice bushy bird-safe plant in front of the nest basket. It likes warmth, and its aviary should never be allowed to become chilled.
While they are considered a grass and grain eating bird in the wild, the Blue-capped Cordon Bleu would naturally pick up some insect matter along the way, and they cannot be kept successfully for long if you are unwilling to supply live food. The backbone of the diet is a high quality small seed mix, fresh enough to sprout – and you should test it by sprouting regularly. These finches love the milky seeding heads of grasses, in addition to the sprouts. You should also supply a finely chopped salad that includes greens, apple, carrot, and broccoli, as well as eggfood and/or a high quality finch pellet that the birds will eat. As you approach the breeding season, offer plenty of tiny white-skinned mealworms, waxworms, and perhaps ant pupae or fly larvae to bring them into season. Don't run short on the live food, or the pair may stop feeding their youngsters. All finches should have access to a small amount of clean grit, as well as a clean cuttlebone.
Written by Elaine Radford
Beautiful, but potentially aggressive birds
I kept red-cheeked cordons before coming across the blue-capped species. These are different species, rather than just different varieties, but I still didn’t imagine there would be much difference in disposition.
Their care is identical and appearance very similar. The blue-capped cordons are a bit larger than the red-cheeks and, of course, lack the red cheeks even in the male birds.
My male was sociable enough and he did remind me quite a bit of the red-cheeks. He was calm and peaceful with the other birds in the community aviary, although, the males can be quite aggressive with birds of their own species.
My red-cheeked cordon female was never my most sociable bird. She didn’t chase other birds, but she didn’t want anything to do with anyone other than her mate either. My blue-capped female, on the other hand, was one of the most aggressive birds I have ever kept.
She didn’t mind her mate, but would actively chase other birds and would do so relentlessly. As long as they were on the other side of the aviary she was fine, but I moved her into a flight cage as an elderly bird and it ended with her separated from my other finches.
Strangely, after loosing her mate, she bonded with a diamond dove. The two were always together and were constantly commandeering a food bowl and fussing with it as if to make it a nesting site.
The blue-capped cordon female didn’t want any other birds around except for the dove and went after a black-cheeked waxbill. She kept viciously pecking the black-cheek even once she had her pinned to the ground and I was in with them trying to chase her off.
Once I got a hold of her, she decided to peck me instead, which was normal behavior for her. Her personality may have been painfully unsociable, but she was very hardy and ended up being one of my longest lived finches.
I’m assuming she was just a particularly cranky individual, but from the experiences I’ve had with them, I far prefer the demeanor of the red-cheeks. These birds like space and I would not again keep them with other birds outside of an aviary.
Blue-capped cordons are gorgeous, exotic finches, but they have the potential to be extremely aggressive birds..
From gardenfairy Oct 2 2014 10:24PM
It may Help the Bird Stop Plucking
Clomicalm (clomipramine) treats stress and agitation. Many animal behaviorists believe that some birds pluck their feathers due to stress. The plucking becomes a nervous habit that is difficult to break. The prescription medication may relax the bird enough that the habit ceases. Unfortunately, when the drug is discontinued, many birds again start plucking.
Always discuss the possible side effects of the medication with your veterinarian before administering it to your pet bird. .
From KimberlySharpe 118 days ago