Guest Article by Brian Kozak

The views expressed in this guest article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Finch Information Center or its creator.

Raising Blue-Capped Cordon Bleus

Brian Kozak writes,

"I've read all of the articles and heard the disclaimers on how difficult it is to raise Cordon Bleu chicks, and I'm here to tell you that I am now firmly entrenched in that camp! They are not impossible to breed, but it definitely takes an effort. I picked up two pairs from a local pet shop on a Gouldian trade and gave them the roomiest cages I have. Wicker nests were given, with plenty of grass, sisal fiber and long, soft pine needles as material, and both pairs industriously set to work. One pair even started laying eggs within a week!

When I first obtained the Cordon Bleus, I was also breeding Gouldians, Owls, Society and Black-Cheeked Zebra finches, so there was plenty of activity in the bird room. I also knew that I had several pairs of foster Society finches available in the event the Cordon Bleus wouldn't sit. But sit they did. After 14 days the first chick hatched, and within 48 hours they had a nest full of 4!

Everything I had come across said make plenty of live food available, so along with their normal dry and soaked seed and dried insect diet they also received more greens, egg food and live mealworms. One by one the chicks died, and as they were tossed it was easy to tell there never was any effort to feed them. All according to the popular gospel.

The pair kept providing eggs, however, so I began farming them out to Society finches. As is common with fostering, the subsequent clutch was a zero, but in the next clutch two hatched. These died in the nest; the Societies had been feeding them, but I found them tossed anyway.

I finally saw a success the brood following. Two hatched, along with a pair of Society finches that must have been laid right after I swapped out the eggs. These were raised to independence along with the Societies, about 4 months after I first obtained the parents.

I have since only been able to get one more baby out of these parents through fostering; because some of the Societies quit the nest or due to infertile eggs, there just have been no more hatching. Once I had no Societies available, so I thought I'd let the parents raise their own again, and 3 of 4 eggs hatched, with the same results as their first.

The second pair built and built the nest, and the male sings and dances, but there has never been an egg in over a year. I recently swapped out that female with one of the babies I kept from the other pair (now 9 months old) and the male immediately sang and mounted his new cage mate. They're actively nest building and I hope for more successes soon.

I've found that it's best to use experienced Societies to foster; once they've raised at least one clutch of their own, I'll give them some Owl eggs; once they've successfully raised Owl eggs, I'll give them Cordon Bleus. I still hope to get some parent-raised hatchlings, but in the meantime I'll stay the current course."

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