Finches for Pets: An Introduction to Cordon-Bleu Finches
Their distinctive coloration, lively behavior and intriguing songs make the Cordon-Bleu finch one of the more popular finch varieties as people make the choice to raise finches for pets. A mid-sized finch, measuring not quite five inches from beak to tail, they are quite handsome birds.
The males generally sport a light brown head, back and belly with a distinctive blue coloration on the breast. Males have a distinctive mark the females don’t have and that is a red, slashing coloration along the neck. Females have the same basic coloration, a bit more muted and without the red slash across the neck.
In the wild, the Cordon-Bleu finches live in the steppes and savannas, dry forested areas and in the bushes and hedges outside of African villages in a large area from Senegal and Guinea to Tanzania, southeastern Zaire and Angola.
These finches always live in pairs building nests in thorn bushes or thorny trees where, in the rainy season, the female will lay from four to five eggs. They raise their young on insect protein. Their normal diet consists mostly of seeds, mostly from grasses. They, like many finches, are omnivores. They eat small, ground dwelling insects like termites in addition.
Fair warning…Cordon-Bleus are among the most delicate finches in captivity. If they are newly imported they require a long period to be acclimated to their new surroundings. They don’t like change. When moving them from the pet shop or breeder to your home, give them several days to get acclimated. If you house your finches in an aviary make sure they can find their way around.
Cordon-Bleus are very sensitive to cold. Temperatures must never drop below 65oF (that’s 18oC for the rest of the world). They are perch sleepers, choosing to sleep on a branch or perch instead of in a nest. They don’t have special requirements for housing. A standard flight cage or a larger aviary is just fine. The only exception to this is that during mating, mating pairs must be separated into brood cages as the males become quite aggressive toward other males.
Their diet consists mainly of small grained seeds and sprouts. You may supplement their diet with small insects like mealworms in addition as green leafy vegetables and millet sprigs.
Cordon-bleus copy well in captivity. Because they stay in bonded pairs all year long, when they are mating it is easy to separate them into brood cages and keep up them there until their young are independent. The young hatch after twelve days of incubation. The parents need lots of live insect food to satisfy their young. After about two-weeks seeds can be additional to the diet. If proper food is not obtainable, the parents will throw their young out of the nest, abandoning them to die.
Cordon-bleu finches make great pets if you just take the care needed to raise them properly.