Orange cheeked Waxbill
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. Orange cheeked waxbill
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  • Scientific Name:  Estrilda melpoda
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin:  2
  • Origin / Distribution:  Tropical western and central Africa
  • Habitat In Wild:  Mainly grasslands and farmlands.
  • Status In Wild:  ?
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity:  Rare
  • Age To Sexual Maturity:  About 6 - 12 months
  • Adult plumage: attained at about  3 - 4 months.
  • Best breeding years (estimate):  2nd - 5th
  • Lifespan (estimate):  About 7 - 8 years.
  • Sexing:  Monomorphic / Dimorphic (Difficult to determine sex)
  • Mutations:  No
  • Availability:  Specialist breeders
  • Temperament:   These birds are usually tolerant of other finches in the same aviary.  Can be housed as a colony of 3 or more pairs in an aviary.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour  (Approx.) $1500
  • Description Of Adults:  One of the smallest of the Waxbills.
  1. Length: Approx. 90 - 100 mm (or approx 4 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Approx.  7 gms (or approx  1/4 oz)
Aviary Notes:

Read notes on "Finches - Non Australian" web page and use in conjunction with details outlined on this page.

Level Of Knowledge Required: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws:  Refer to "Government Laws" web page.

Housing Requirements:  Click on "Housing birds" web page for general details on the housing of Non Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this finch.

May be kept with other finches but with their rarity in Australian aviaries it would be best to give each pair a planted aviary of their own.  They can be bred in a large canary style cage.  An aviary of between 2 - 3 metres long with a fully covered roof is recommended.  They are a tropical bird and prefer a warm environment.

Do not house Orange cheeked Waxbills with closely related species such as St. Helena Waxbills due to the possibility of hybridization.

Diet / Feeding:  Click on "Feeding birds" web page for general details on the nutrition of  Non Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this finch.

Live foods and seeding grasses are critical for successful breeding.

Good quality finch mix, seeding grasses and some fruits (e.g. apple) and green leafy vegetables.  Live food is essential especially at breeding season.  Small mealworms, small crickets and small locusts are ideal.  Sprouted or soaked seed if available.

Basic seed mix should include Canary seed, White French Millet, Japanese Millet, and Yellow and Red Panicum.

Nesting:  A basic overview only.

  • Roosting nest: Yes / No
  • Nesting months:  Spring to early autumn.
  • Nesting receptacles:  Will build a nest in a shrub or dry brush.  May use artificial nests such as half open nest boxes.  The nest may have two levels with the top smaller cavity being used by the cock bird.
  • Nest:  Both parents build a domed split level nest with a side entrance tunnel and made of grasses.  Nest is lined with feathers and soft fine grasses such as Swamp grass or November grass.
  • Who incubates the eggs: Hen / cock / both share.

Parent birds generally reuse the nest for subsequent clutches.  Adequate new nest material must be available for the birds to refurbish the old nest or build a new nest for the next clutch.

The nest may include a "cock's nest" above the main breeding chamber.  If an artificial nest is provided for the Orange cheeked Waxbill, make sure the volume of the nest box is large enough for the birds to build the "cock's nest" above the main breeding chamber.

More details on finch nests and a selection of finch nest photos can be located on the "nests", "finch nests" and "finch nest photos" web pages.  Click on "Up" then "nests" then "finch nests" and "finch nests photos" in the navigation bars.  

Breeding:  Egg Colour White.  Clutch/s per year  3.  Eggs per nest  3 - 6.  Incubation approx.  12 days.  Fledge approx.  3 weeks.  Independent approx. another  4 - 5 weeks.  The young may return to the nest for about one week after fledging.

Breeding birds can form a strong pair-bond.  Birds that have the opportunity to choose their own partner, such as in a colony situation, are usually more productive than those offered only one choice.  Successfully changing a bird's partner may result in a long wait till breeding recommences.

The young usually leave the nest at the same time, or within a 24 hour period.  May start breeding as early as 6 months of age.

Nest inspection should be kept to an absolute minimum to avoid upsetting either parent bird.

Young should be removed from the parent birds as soon as they are fully independent so as to avoid possible aggression from a parent.  If the young birds are left with the parent birds, the young rapidly look like the adult birds.  Picking the parents from the young may be impossible, therefore placing a coloured numbered leg ring on all the young is advisable.

They form strong pair bonds and aggressively defend the territory around their nest.  Both parents feed the young.

St Helena Waxbills may be used as foster parents if required.

Artificial incubation, hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.  Refer "Specific References" as listed below and "General References" listings.

Health Issues: Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new birds or sick birds are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site.  Refer above option - "Avian Health Issues" web page.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace.  Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 58 No. 9 Sept 12004 Page 193-196.
  • A/A Vol 54 No. 5 May 2000 Page 100-104
  • A/A Vol 48 No. 4 Apr 1994 Page 60-64 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 30 No. 10 Oct 1976 Page157-158 (Inc photo)
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 14 Issue 7. Feb-Mar 2001 Page 373-375.
  • ABK Vol 12 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 1999 Page 530-531

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