Blue Headed Cordon Bleu – (Uraeginthus cyanocephala)
If you have ever seen the blue cap male in his courting dance and noticed the way he fans out his feathers at the front of his forehead forming a type of cap, you will understand why he is called the blue cap.
Blue caps are an African waxbill one of the two cordon species available in Australia; the other is the red-cheeked cordon bleu, a beautiful bird in its own right, which is an easier bird to keep and breed and more more readily available than the blue cap.
With blue caps I have found the following breeding methods to work particularly well for me and I have had pleasing results through putting them into place.
Often breeders will have a pair of birds; lose the hen and try and replace the hen. It is probable the main reason the hen died was that she was worn out laying infertile eggs and subsequently died of egg bind. To replace the hen for this cock would probably result in the same death of a replacement new hen. The best scenario would be to use a new pair â€“ discard the old cock.
If the birds are paired up too young they will eagerly go to nest but will lack the maturity to be fertile so by the time they reach sexual maturity the hen may have laid 10 to 20 infertile eggs. Then if you are approaching the colder months serious problems can result in loss of hens, e.g. egg binding. It is best to use fully matured birds or to be sure use an older cock.
If you pair up young birds and they successfully breed, use them for 6-8 months or 2-3 nests â€“ then remove the blue caps to a resting aviary or a holding aviary. You can get away with continually breeding cordons for 2-3 years but not with blue caps.
Use a new pair in the breeding aviary. If you have a nice pair that did not breed e.g. laid many infertile eggs â€“ rest that pair but after 2-3 months try an old hen with a new mature young cock. Don’t persevere with an old cock because there is a 90% chance the cock is infertile not the hen. Using a new cock with an old hen is a good practice anyway because you can use an old hen up to 5-6 years reaching back into the gene pool on her side and using a new unrelated cock. But this can only happen if you rest the hen every 6-8 months for at least 2-3 months.
Cocks can be rejuvenated as well with rest and a low fat diet. Unless the cock bird is really special it is better to use a new mature young cock, which you should have an abundance of choice as most pairs breed more cocks than hens.
Basically, if a pair have not bred in 12 months or even 6 months, they are probably not going to breed. This applies to most finches. Don’t leave a non-breeding pair in an aviary for too long. Change them or replace them.
Blue caps don’t need to be kept in small cages on their own. They can be kept in reasonably large cages with other birds. They do not like to be over crowded. For example my aviaries are 6m x 1.8m x 2.1m H with one pair blue caps and three other pairs of species.
They can be housed in adjoining aviaries. They don’t fight through the wire. They are a very placid bird.
The key is to arrange aviary fittings so there is not too much competition for nesting sites, e.g. If you have 4 pairs in one aviary blue caps will nest in a wire basket usually at the front. Tri coloured parrot finches will nest in a nest box; yellow-wing pytilias will mostly always use a 4â€ plant pot on its side attached to the wall and green singers will use a small salmon tin attached high up on a wall.
These four species get on really well but singers are best in alternate flights to stop fighting on the wire.
You will always have more success as an aviaculturist if you take the time to work out individual needs of different species.
Nesting for blue caps usually only require semi circular wire cylinders -300mm wide, 200mm deep 900mm high lightly filled with semi-dry green panic grass, November grass and feathers are all they need. The nest will nearly always be at the bottom of the cylinder facing the front of the aviary.
Blue caps are offered a range of foods as are all my other birds but their preference is red panicum, live food, green seeding heads and sliced lebanese cucumber. Fresh or frozen seed heads of red panicum or white french millet will be eagerly consumed.
Good luck with your efforts and I hope this article helps.
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