Cordon bleu finches, elegant little birds known by the inelegant scientific name of Uraeginthus cyanocephala, are a type of wax bill native to East Africa. With their pleasing sky-blue and brown coloration and gentle, lively natures, cordon bleu finches make appealing pets and attractive additions to aviaries. Their song is musical and melodic, and both males and females perform with equal enthusiasm. Cordon bleu finches are considered challenging to breed; conditions have to be just right before they will reproduce in captivity. By following the basics of good avian care, however, you may be able to help romance along for your cordon bleu finches.
Make sure you have foster parents available before you try to breed your cordon bleu finches. It is not uncommon for cordon bleu finches to lay eggs and successfully incubate them, then abruptly abandon their babies. If you have Bengalese finches--also known as society finches--or know someone who does, keep these birds in mind as candidates for foster parenthood; often they willingly care for abandoned cordon bleu nestlings.
Feed a varied diet to ensure the optimal health cordon bleus need to breed in captivity. The ideal breeding diet includes large quantities of live mealworms and white worms, considered essential ingredients by many finch breeders for inducing finches to mate. You should also feed your finches hard-boiled eggs, cornbread mixture, chopped fruits and vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, millet, fortified finch seed, vitamin supplements, mineral supplements and spirulina.
Put a cuttlebone in the cage to make sure the female finch receives enough calcium.
Put a healthy male and female in a spacious flight cage together. According to information on the Avian Web website, It's not a good idea to try to breed cordon bleu finches in a flock situation; the normally peaceful males will get into scraps over likely female prospects. To avoid boredom, aggression and dysfunctional behaviors like feather-plucking, make sure the cage is not too small--it should be at least 2 feet long by 1 foot wide by 8 feet high--and that it is in an area that is free of drafts.
Furnish the cage with lots of perches and greenery to make the birds feel more secure. Artificial greenery is fine, as long as it provides your cordon bleu finches with privacy.
Be alert for mating behavior. Cordon bleu finches participate in a charming courtship ritual; the male tries to entice the female by hopping from perch to perch and dancing with a piece of nesting material in his mouth, while the female responds by following him and singing encouragingly.
Offer a good selection of both nesting material and ready-made nests in the finch pair's cage. Cordon bleus particularly like coco fiber, sisal rope, torn newspapers, shredded tissue and corn husks for nesting material. Also offer small wicker or bamboo baskets, preferably covered, with a hole for an entrance; the hens like privacy when incubating their eggs. Cordon bleus normally lay between four and six eggs and incubate them for two weeks.
Once you see that there are eggs in the nest, don't disturb it for any reason and keep peeking to a minimum. Cordon bleus are easily frightened away from their eggs. Try to perform any cleaning of the cage and feedings as noninvasively as you can.
When the chicks hatch, don't panic if the parents don't seem to be feeding them right away. Cordon bleu finches can be awkward first-time parents, but they will often figure things out within a day or two. In any case, the chicks don't need to be fed much for the first two days, because they are digesting their yolk sacs.