Blue-capped Cordon Bleu

Uraeginthus cyanocephalus

The blue-capped cordon bleu is a small finch native to East Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Tanzania). They are found in dry grasslands, shrubby terrain, and deserts. They are omnivorous and feed mostly on seeds and small insects.

Blue-capped cordon bleus, (also called waxbills) are popular pets, but they are difficult to breed in captivity; thus the capture and trade (legal and illegal) of wild-caught birds is a significant concern.

Did You Know?

Blue-capped Cordon Bleus are also called waxbills.


Does the harvest for wildlife trade or captive breeding of this species harm wild populations?

Some Cause for Concern

There is no evidence that wild populations of blue-capped cordon bleus are at risk in their native range in East Africa. Wild individuals are, however, captured in large numbers for the pet trade. In 2005, wild-caught blue-capped cordon bleus comprised almost half of the birds legally imported into the United States. If the harvest of wild birds continues, the future health of wild blue-capped cordon bleus populations is uncertain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that blue-capped cordon bleus are very difficult to breed in captivity. Thus, imported birds might be more likely to be wild-caught than captive bred, and may be imported illegally.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

We strongly advise the purchase of captive-bred blue-capped cordon bleus from a reputable breeder who can provide proof of origin. We encourage people to choose blue-capped cordon bleus with documentation verifying the bird was bred in the United States to safeguard against unwittingly purchasing a wild-caught individual.

Invasion Threat

Does the release or escape of this species into the wild harm the environment and/or economy?

Unable to Rank

EcoHealthy Pets found no information on invasive populations of Blue-capped Cordon Bleus.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Before obtaining any non-traditional pet, check that it is legal to own one in your state of residence and check for permitting requirements. Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally imported or wild-caught animal. Always keep your pet inside a safe and secure enclosure. Never release a pet into the wild.


Ease of Care

Does harvest, captive breeding, transport, or being kept as a pet harm individual animals?

Some Cause for Concern

Ease of care of many non-traditional pets depends on the individual owner’s years of experience and knowledge caring for a particular species. For the purposes of this website, we have geared information toward the benefit of the beginner.

Cordon bleu birds require larger enclosures to enable exercise and short flight from perch to perch. They are highly social animals and should not be housed alone. These birds require high protein diets and like to bathe more relative to other birds.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

When purchasing a pet blue-capped cordon bleu, ask for proof that the animal was bred in captivity by a professional with a permit to sell the animal. Be sure to research its specific care requirements. Talk to your veterinarian about the proper diet and how to maintain a healthy weight for your pet.

Health Threat

Does this animal pose a health risk to native wildlife, humans, livestock and agriculture?

Little Cause for Concern

All finches may carry bacteria of concern to humans such as Salmonella.  Finches and other passerines can carry and transmit Chlamydophila psittaci, which causes psittacosis, but less commonly than parrots and often only after being housed with an infected parrot.  Although less common in the U.S., this disease is potentially life-threatening for humans.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

When purchasing a pet bird, ask the seller if the animal has been checked by a veterinarian and for a list of any medical treatments the animal has received.

EcoHealth Alliance works at the intersection of ecosystem, animal and human health through local conservation programs and develops global health solutions to emerging diseases.
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