East Africa - Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania
scrubland, grassland, villages, farmland
Cordon bleu finches are high-energy animals, and need to be able to fly inside their cages in order to stay healthy. A good finch cage is wider than it is tall to provide ample space for flying from perch to perch. Bar spacing should be no more than 1¼ - 2 inch apart to prevent the bird from getting caught between the wires. Cordon bleu finches are social, and need the company of other finches. Sometimes, different species of finches that are similar in size and temperament can be housed together as long as the cage is large enough. In this situation, a large flight cage or aviary would be an appropriate choice.
Keep at least two or three perches in the cage, but don't crowd the cage with too many accessories, or there will be little room left for flying. Choose perches of varying widths and textures; this helps to keep your bird's feet healthy and strong. Make sure that all the perches are wide enough for the bird to easily maintain its balance while using them.
Finches benefit from having a nest or nests in the cage, but make sure to choose a size that is not adequate for breeding if you don't want to encourage them to reproduce. If you notice a bird protecting a particular nest, you may want to change the size of the nest, move the nest or remove it from the cage to discourage breeding behaviors.
Finches can be kept at average household temperatures, but be sure to avoid fluctuations in temperature and drafts. Place the finch cage off of the ground and away from drafty areas such as doorways, vents or windows.
You may wish to cover your bird's cage at night, or move their cage to a quiet room for sleeping. Covering the cage, or placing it in a quiet area helps the bird to get the rest it needs to stay healthy. Even quiet noise in a room such as a television or computer can disturb your bird's rest and keep it from getting a healthy amount of sleep. If the cage is in an area that is used after your bird's bedtime, it is beneficial to move the cage to a quieter room at night.
The natural diet of cordon bleu finch consists of grains, seeds, vegetation and insects. At home, cordon bleu finches can best be cared for by providing a variety of foods. Pellet foods and seed mixes can be fed as a daily base diet. It is better not to feed pellets or seeds exclusively, because separately they do not provide proper nutrition or variety for the bird.
It is important to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in your bird's diet. Some healthy fruits include apples, grapes, bananas and melons. Vegetables and greens such cress, chickweed, grass seedlings, leaf lettuce, cucumber, and broccoli are nutritious foods. When feeding fresh foods, be sure to remove anything uneaten after a few hours so that the food does not spoil, and to wash the dishes thoroughly before using them again. You should also offer your bird insects. Cordon bleu finches need a high protein diet. They enjoy fruit flies, meal worms, termites, maggots, ants and many other insects. A variety of live and dried insects are available at That Fish Place. Feeding hardboiled egg to your finch is another great way to provide protein in your bird's diet.If feeding fruits the stool may become runny for a while. Many birds cannot tolerate too much acid that is in many citrus fruits, therefore we recommend limiting the amount of citrus you feed to your bird.
When changing the food your bird is given we would recommend doing so gradually so a sudden change does not upset your bird’s digestive system. We feed Goldenfeast formulas and mix in some seed diet when appropriate along with many fresh fruits and vegetables.
Grooming and Hygiene
Birds like to bathe, but different birds prefer to bathe in different ways. Some like to bathe in a shallow dish, some like to be sprayed with a fine mist. Cordon bleu finches like to bathe much more than many other birds. For this reason you may want to give them a shallow bathing dish and place it in the cage for a few minutes each day, instead of or in addition to a mist bath.
Clipping your finch's wings is not recommended, as finches have a very high metabolism, and need fly in order to get enough exercise. Finches do not normally appreciate being handled, so wing clipping is not necessary. Nails should be trimmed by a qualified person only if they become unhealthy, too long or interfere with perching.
Clean the cage, perches and toys daily with warm soapy water. Use a non-toxic cleaner such as mild dish liquid and make sure that the soap is completely rinsed off when you are finished cleaning.
Disinfect the cage and perches with bleach water regularly while keeping the bird in a separate room. Bleach fumes can kill your pet. Allowing the cage to air dry in sunlight is a natural way to disinfect. Make sure the smell from the bleach is completely gone before you place your bird back inside the cage.
Replace toys and accessories that become worn or damaged, as they can injure your pet.
Rotate toys when your bird becomes disinterested in them but remember never to place an unfamiliar toy in the cage without first introducing it to the bird in a neutral location. Mirrors can be confusing for birds, as they will sometimes bond to the bird in the mirror instead of bonding to other birds. If your bird behaves in this way toward a mirror, it should be removed. Mirrors should not be used in substitute of having a companion for your bird.
Behavior & Interaction
Cordon bleu finches are very social birds who often form large colonies in the wild. For this reason, they need a lot of social interaction with other birds in order to stay happy and healthy. It is best to keep at least two cordon bleu finches together. Cordon bleu finches can be kept in colonial situations, as long as the enclosure is of appropriate size. They can also be kept with other types of waxbills, as long as the cage is large enough to allow the different birds to have their own territories and interact without conflict or too much competition.
If you intend to keep a mated pair of cordon bleu finches, it is best to keep only one pair per cage unless you have a special enclosure such as a large aviary, as they will often abandon their nests if they are frequently disturbed. Cordon bleu finches will also frequently abandon their nestlings if they are not given enough insects or other source of protein with which to rear their young. Breeding these birds can be very difficult, and should only be attempted after you research the proper care and set up required.
Cordon bleu finches have a beautiful song, and healthy birds will often sing. While males will sing more than females, both sexes are great singers.
When taking your new bird home please remember that the surroundings in your home will be new to it and it may take some time for the bird to feel settled in the new environment. Speak softly and move very slowly whenever you are near the bird's cage. It is recommended that you do not handle your finch, as they are very fragile.
With a well-balanced diet you should not need to give your bird vitamin supplements. Before giving any supplements in the bird's water, make sure you clean and wash the water dish daily to remove any residue from the supplements.
We recommend taking your bird to the vet for regular checkups and purchasing a book about your new pet.
We recommend using warm water and a mild soap solution for daily cleaning of your bird's cage. Once a week remove the bird from the cage and use a diluted bleach solution to disinfect the cage. Rinse the cage thoroughly then place the cage in the sun to air dry if possible. Be certain the cage and bowls are completely free of any bleach smell prior to placing your bird back in the enclosure as bleach is toxic to birds.
Keep the bird in a draft free area. A room temperature of 72° is normally good for most birds although we suggest researching your specific bird to determine the optimum temperature.
Always wash your hands before and after handling each animal.
You should have toys in the cage to prevent boredom. Bored birds are known to have behavior problems. Birds need to be active to maintain good health and to prevent them from getting overweight. Foraging toys are excellent because they stimulate the natural avian instinct to search for food.
Toys should be changed regularly to keep your pet interested and if the toy becomes worn to prevent injury.
When you change toys for your bird or even move your bird to a new location in the house, please be aware of how sensitive most birds are to changes. Never place a new toy directly inside the cage without first allowing the bird to see and get used to the new toy in a neutral area outside the cage.
Birds can be scared to death. Frightening a bird can cause the bird enough stress to harm and possibly kill it. Move slowly and talk quietly to your bird until it is comfortable with you and its home.
Vary your bird's perches by type and sizes to keep its feet healthy and conditioned.
We recommend consulting with your veterinarian prior to giving your bird a cuttle bone or a mineral block.
If you notice signs of illness it is very important to get the vet promptly as most birds will hide illness until it is in an advanced stage. We recommend taking your bird to the vet BEFORE the bird ever becomes ill. Visiting your vet before the bird is ill will allow the vet to see your bird when it is healthy and help the vet create a routine preventive health care program for your new pet.
Signs of a Healthy Animal:
• Active, alert, and sociable
• Eats and drinks throughout the day
• Dry nostrils and bright, dry eyes
• Beak, legs, and feet appear normal
• Clean, dry vent
• Smooth, well-groomed feathers
• Beak swelling or accumulations
• Fluffed, plucked, or soiled feathers especially around the vent
• Constant sitting on floor of cage
• Wheezing or coughing
• Runny or discolored stools
• Favoring one foot when not asleep, it is normal for birds to sleep on one foot
• Eye or nasal discharge
• Red or swollen eyes
• Loss of appetite