Indoor Cage Breeding Basics as Applied to the Red--cheeked Cordon--bleu


If there is a finch known to practically all finch keepers, this is it. The Redcheeked Cordon-bleu has been a mainstay for pet shops - commanding a high price, yet readily available. Now, with its status as a CITES III bird, things have changed. Although this bird has been introduced in Hawaii, we doubt you will see its importation from there. For all practical purposes, importation has stopped. This means that the stocks we have now are all we are ever going to have, and this situation is particularly troubling.

In Australia, where the importation/exportation ban was implemented in the early 1960's, this is one species that they managed to save in aviculture, but this may not be the case in our country. The situation, in fact, has become so critical that a good friend, Levin Tilghman III, is finding it very difficult to find new bloodlines for his existing stock. He is the only person we know that we would qualify as a true breeder of these birds - namely, being selfsufficient, having various bloodlines, and breeding through to several generations.

The sad case of the Cordon-bleus reflects the basic scenario of American finch aviculture: when the wild-caughts vanish, the species vanishes. Another sad commentary is the quality of birds being bred. Levin informs us that the domestics he has purchased have been small and weak, a frightening situation for birds not that far from the wild-caught stock. We would advise breeders who would seriously like to work with these birds to acquire wildcaughts while they are still available, as this would eliminate the possibility of getting in-bred stock. Be sure, however, to check into the laws of your state, as several states have laws forbidding the buying and selling of wild-caught birds.

The Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu is a dry grassland species - the first such bird to be discussed in this column. The husbandry techniques for the dry grassland finches are somewhat different from those for the wetland types. Although reputedly the most difficult of the Cordon-bleu types to breed, we found this bird surprisingly easy to breed and quite hardy.

We would recommend housing in a....