The Blue Waxbill is known for various names: The Uraeginthus angolensis, Southern Blue Waxbill, Southern Cordon Bleu, Blue-breasted Waxbill, Blue-cheeked Cordon Bleu, Blue-breasted Cordon Bleu, and Angola Cordon Bleu. It is an indigenous species that is found in the southern region of the African continent. This Blue Waxbill was first described in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus, an honorable Swedish zoologist and botanist who is dubbed as the “father of modern taxonomy.”
This bird species belongs to the estrildid finch family that consists of small passerine birds like fire finches, munias, mannikins, parrotfinches, and waxbills. The Blue Waxbill’s closest cousins include the Red-fronted Antpecker, Jameson’s Antpecker, White-breasted Nigrita, Grey-headed Oliveblack, and Green-winged Pytilia.
Also dubbed as the Blousysie, this small, colorful bird is known to hybridize with Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu, a bird species that is also found in some parts of Africa. Since their population occurs in a broad range, and there are no present threats that threaten their general population, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorized them as Least Concern.
Its seven levels of scientific classification are as follows:
Species: U. angolensis
The physical characteristics of a Blue Waxbill
The Blue Waxbill is a small, slender powder-blue bird, even smaller than a sparrow. A male and female Blue Waxbill birds have slight physical differences. Both have a powder-blue face, breast, flanks, and rump with light brown upperparts. However, a female Blue Waxbill has a paler powder-blue color, with the color being confined at the rump, head, tail, and upper breast only. A male Blue Waxbill has bright sky-blue underparts and a yellowish or buffy abdomen.
An adult Blue Waxbill has flesh-colored legs and feet. It can grow from an approximate of 4.9-5.1 in in length, including the tail, and can weigh from 8-13 g. Immature birds almost share the same physical characteristic with female Blue Waxbills, except that their faces and throats are the only ones in blue, bills are black, and immature males have less extensive blue coloring than adult female Blue Waxbills.
The distribution and habitat of Blue Waxbills
This small bird species is endemic in north-eastern South Africa, particularly in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, and small parts of KwaZulu Natal. Likewise, they occur in many African countries not only in South Africa, but also in Congo, Zanzibar, Angola, Burundi, Botswana, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
Blue Waxbills frequent a wide range of habitats like open grasslands, woodland savannahs, bush or wooded regions, forest edges, and even cultivated lands that do not have dense forest interiors. They also visit urban areas to feed on the ground. This bird species generally prefers habitats that are well-watered and semi-arid.
The behavior and common habits of Blue Waxbills
Blue Waxbills congregate in small family parties, in pairs, or larger flocks with other estrildid finches. A Blue Waxbill’s call is characterized by a soft-sounding “see-seee,” which is often repeated as the bird flies toward the lower parts of the scrub or a bush.
The breeding season occurs all year round, but peaks from December to May, when it is mostly rainy in southern Africa. During this period, male Blue Waxbills get a little aggressive towards other males of its kind. They get easily irritated with any disturbance while nesting and incubating the eggs.
Both male and female Blue Waxbills build the nest. They collect green grass stems, feathers, twigs, and other plant materials to create a large, dome-shaped nest with a tiny entrance tunnel on the side. The nest is typically placed among the foliage of a tree or bush, like the sickle bush Dichrostachys cinerea. Sometimes, Blue Waxbills reuse the old nests of other birds such as Spectacled Weaver, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, and Black-chested Prinia.
The female Blue Waxbill lays 2 to 7 eggs. Both parents will take responsibility for incubating the eggs for 11-12 days. Once hatched, both parents will feed the chicks with protein-rich grass seeds, insects, and termites. The chicks will stay dependent on their parents until they fully fledge after 17 to 21 days. After a week, they can live independently.
The diet of Blue Waxbills
Blue Waxbills primarily feed on plants, grass seeds, termites, caterpillars, and other insects. Occasionally, they have also been sighted eating fallen fruits of Boscia albitrunca.
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