Blue Waxbills

Blue Waxbills, Blue-breasted Cordon-bleus, Common Cordon Bleus

The Blue Waxbills (Uraeginthus angolensis) – also known as the Blue-breasted Cordon-bleu Finches, Southern Cordon-bleus or Southern Blue Waxbills – are fairly common within their range in Southern Africa.

Thes finches were named for their blue plumage details.

Male And Female Blue Waxbills (Uraeginthus angolensis) On A Rock
Male And Female Blue Waxbills (Uraeginthus angolensis) On A Rock

Distribution / Habitat

The Blue Waxbills occur naturally in the African countries of Angola, Botswana, Burundi, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Their natural habitats are open grassland, savanna, bush or wooded areas and cultivated lands, generally avoiding forest interiors. They are often seen feeding on the ground in urban areas.

Subspecies and Ranges

Have been reported to hybridizes with the related Red-Cheeked Cordon Bleus (Uraeginthus Bengalus) in In southern Tanzania (Songea, Mikindani)., where some of the males have a red patch on the ear-coverts (feathers covering their ears).

Blue-breasted Cordon Bleu, Blue-breasted Cordonbleu (Uraeginthus angolensis angolensis, Linnaeus, 1758) – Nominate Form

Range: Northern / northwestern Angola (including Cabinda) to southern / southwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo. (formerly Zaire), northwestern Zambia and n Zimbabwe; São Tomé

Blue-breasted Cordonbleu (Nyasa), Nyasa Cordonbleu, Nyasa Cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus angolensis niassensis, Reichenow, 1911)

Range: Southern Tanzania, southern and southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe (except western parts) south to northeastern South Africa (northern Limpopo south to KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape) and Swaziland.

Blue-breasted Cordonbleu (cyanopleurus) (Uraeginthus angolensis cyanopleurus. Wolters, 1963)

Range: Southern Angola, western Zambia (west of Kafue National Park), western and northwestern Zimbabwe, northern Namibia, northern Botswana, and northern South Africa south to the North West Province and Free State.

Blue-breasted Cordonbleu (natalensis) (Uraeginthus angolensis natalensis, Zedlitz, 1911) – Proposed race; mostly considered the same with ssp. U. niassensis.

Range: KwaZulu-Natal in eastern South Africa.

Blue-breasted Cordonbleu (Damaraland), Damaraland Cordon bleu, Damaraland Cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus angolensis damarensis) – Not universally recognized



Blue-breasted Cordon-bleus measure 4.9 – 5.1 inches (12.5 – 13 cm) in length (including the tail).

Plumage Details / Adults


  • The plumage above is uniformly brown.
  • The face, throat, chest, flanks, and tail are pale blue.
  • The abdomen is yellowish / buff.


  • Resemble the males, except for …
    • a duller plumage
    • less extensive blue feathering

Other Physical Details

Legs and feet are flesh-colored.

Juvenile Description

Immature birds resemble females, except for …

  • the blue being restricted to the face and throat.
  • their bills are black
  • Juvenile males resemble females, except for duller plumage
  • Juvenile females have less extensive blue coloring than immature males.

Behavior / Disposition

  • In captivity, these popular finches are generally peaceful and quiet, but during the breeding season will be protective of their nests.
  • They can grow quite confiding.

Diet / Feeding

Their diet generally consists of grain, grass seeds, and other seeds, as well as millets. Occasionally, they also eat beeswax. When raising young in particular, they will consume insects to ensure adequate levels of protein in their chicks’ diet – needed for their rapid growth.

Breeding / Nesting / Aviculture

Their large, dome-shaped nests are constructed out of twigs and other plant material with a side entrance. These nests are usually placed in trees or bushes.

The average clutch consists of 4 – 5 white eggs.


These small birds are popular in aviculture and are commonly kept on flights. They generally like to roost on open branches, which makes them susceptible to low temperatures.

They generally accept the readily available finch nest boxes – although nest box preferences will vary depending on what the parents themselves were raised in.

During the breeding season, males can get quite aggressive towards other males.

They are not tolerant to nest inspections or disturbances in general when nesting and often abandon any eggs or chicks. This should also be taken into consideration with respect to the placement of the aviary.

Alternate (Global) Names

Afrikaans: Gewone Blousysie … Chinese: ?????? … Czech: Motýlek angolský … Danish: Angolasommerfuglefinke … Dutch: Angolees Blauwfazantje … Estonian: savanni-lasuuramadiin … Finnish: Sinipeippo … French: Astrild bleu, Cordonbleu à dos brun, Cordonbleu d’Angola, Cordonbleu de l’Angola, Cordon-bleu méridional … German: Angola-Schmetterlingsfink, Blauastrild, Blau-Astrild … Italian: Cordon blu, Cordon blu pettazzurro … Japanese: funashiseikichou, ruichigaiseikichou … Kwangali: Katjikilili Gomuburau … Norwegian: Angola sommerfuglfink, Blåastrild … Polish: motylik sawannowy … Portuguese: Peito-celeste … Russian: ?????????? ???????? … Slovak: motýlik belasý … Shona: Kasisi … Siswant: Mswili … Spanish: Azulito Angoleño, Cordón Azul Común … Swedish: Angolafjärilsfink … Swahili: Kitendeli Shavu-buluu … Tsonga: Xindzingiri

Further Finch Reading

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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