The Red-Cheeked Cordon Bleu Story.

By Mal & Sherry Graham


The charming little pale blue birds that we call Cordons are one of the most delightful birds that one could keep. One only has to look at their stunning blue colouring to take a liking to these charming waxbills. If that isn't enough then their mannerisms and boisterous chatter when you come to close to young or nests will certainly get you in!!

They are one of the most active birds that one can keep in mixed collections.

We keep around10 pairs in a colony with other waxbills and Australian

However, we do also have pied Cordons, which are housed by themselves in separate aviaries. This does not mean that you cannot keep them as single pairs we just prefer to house a small flock together as we have found it to more successful for us in the way that tour birds are kept here are. I feel sure there is a pair or three in most aviaries in Australia tucked away somewhere. Most of the finch people that we know have them and would not be with out them.  


Breeding commences in about October and concludes, weather dependant, in about February in "Tropical East Coast Tasmania!!"

Late nests are not uncommon but unfortunately due to the cold weather these late arrivals do not often survive given the Cordon's annoying habit of bringing many of their chicks out half-feathered.

Nests are usually made of swamp grass or other really fine grasses and lined with white feathers. They have a preference for the white chicken feathers and don't seem to like coloured ones. Also they tend to stay away from Emu feathers here but I do know of others that swear by these types of feathers.               

They lay 4 to 6 small white eggs and when they commence sitting they

usually sit tight and are usually devoted parents.

When fledging the young are similar in colour  to the adult hen with the young cocks being slightly brighter when they leave the nest birds acquiring their distinctive red cheek patches as they mature and moult.

It is sometimes possible to sex youngsters as they leave the nest, the cock birds will generally be slightly larger than the hens and cock birds are a little darker blue. Remember this is my theory!

We currently feed Peppers Quality Finch mix to our birds with a little extra Red pannicum and Siberian Millet added for the Waxbills.

All of our birds are fed copious amounts of maggots or Gentles, small

mealworms and Greens in the form of seeding grasses, Chick weed, Silver beet, Endive, Lebanese Cucumber, Saltbush and any other suitable greens that are seasonally available.

As well as this they are supplied with a variety of supplements such as Grit, Shell Grit, Cuttlebone (crushed and whole) and PVM powder.



Male Pied Cordon. Pair Hen on Right. Male Pied Cordon.


Well Being:

They are one of the most active finches that one could keep -always on the go when not eating or preening each other. They tend not to interfere with any other species but the males sometimes have the odd territorial tiff amongst themselves .Most of the time they seem to hang with their own kind. We currently keep them with Orange breasts, African fires, Yellow stars, Black-headed siskins, and Blue faced parrot finches, Longtails. Melbas, and Black-headed normal Gouldian's, and have had no trouble at all. 

They are wormed 4 times a year on Cydectin Plus and Equimax during the year to keep those nasty little internal and external parasites at bay. Mainly because of the amount of green food and insects that they consume and the amount of time they spend on the aviary floors which means that parasites can be easily passed on in this manner when kept in a colony situation.                                                                                            

If there is any ailment that they seem to suffer from in Tassie's "mild winters" (which seems to be most of the time) it is egg-binding.
This in spite of our birds being in totally enclosed aviaries.

order to avoid egg-binding we try to give them some form of calcium based supplement which is presented in dry form - we try and avoid water based treatments these days.
In addition to this we use a tried and tested way by placing a small amount off Peppers Greens n' Grains in a dish and adding 5 drops of Polyseed oil and 5 drops of Cod liver oil and then thoroughly mix until the seed is coated.
We only leave it for the day and throw the old seed away to stop it from going rancid and we present this treatment once or twice a week depending upon how cold it is. Let us tell you that, like most finches, cold and draughts don't mix well with the Red-cheeked cordon!!!   


Adult Hen. Cordon Nest. Baby Cordon.


To finish this brief piece on our favourite Waxbill we'll leave you with a few short points.

 ●Never keep Cordon with Blue-caps in case you breed hybrids which
   detract from both pure species. 
● Always try and have some form of favourite live food on hand as it will
   greatly increase the number and quality of young bred.

● Try to keep nest inspection to the bare minimum as some pair may be
    touchy in this regard - if you must do it try to ensure that the parents do

    not actually see you doing it!  

● Be very careful having them with Cubans as some of these have a hatred
   of Cordons for some unknown reason - because they do I guess!! 

● Ensure you have dry calcium supplements on hand if you intend allowing
   these guys to breed in your States colder months.  

We strongly recommend the addition of small seeds like Red pannicum to  
    your average finch mix if you keep a few of these Waxbills.