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Orange-cheeked Waxbill

Orange-cheeked Waxbill
life expectancy:4 years
scientific name:Estrilda melpoda
distribution:Western and central Africa
family:Estrildidae
dimensions:0 to 10 cm
compatibility: goodsinging ability: good
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History [ edit ]

Orange-cheeked Waxbill (Estrilda melpoda) is a waxbill bird, native from the western and central tropical Africa. In the wild these small birds live in small flocks, except in the mating season, and can be found in grassland areas close to water. They are common in their natural habitat and have been introduced successfully in the American continent, though Puerto Rico.
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Temperament [ edit ]

The Orange-cheeked Waxbills are timid birds that like to hide, so don´t count on them when you want to show off your new bird to your friends. Some may become tamer overtime. You can more easily watch him flying around with acrobatic moves, since they are quite energetic. They are also agile climbers.

Very sociable birds, they get along with other species, except while breeding, when they can become more nervous.

The males like to sing and will vocalize with their high-pitched chirping. Cocks have different melodies and hens may vocalize a bit, but they will not sing.
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General appearance [ edit ]

These little birds, with no more then 10 cm, are one of the more colorful amongst waxbills. Known by their orange to red cheeks, they also have red coloring markings on the rump. The body has different shades of grey, dark on the head and creamier in the belly. The wings are brownish and the tail is black

The term waxbill refers to the beaks coloration of this group. Usually conical and red, the beak resembles sealing wax.

Sexing these birds is a difficult task. Some defend that females may have paler shades of orange on the cheeks, but that may not occur in all the individuals. A more reliable way of identifying the birds is by their singing abilities: males have melodious songs, while females have produce limited sounds.

Young birds are paler, but they develop their orange face mask at six weeks of age, which makes this specie very easy to identify among all the other waxbills.
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Housing [ edit ]

The Orange-cheeked is a hardy bird but it will need heating to endure especially cold winters. Temperature shouldn’t go much lower than 18 Cº. They need daylight so in this season it might be necessary artificial lighting.

They are very sociable birds that share happily their house with other species of the same size and temperament or their even own. This doesn’t mean that new species can be introduced in an aviary randomly. Check how the birds are getting along with close attention. The Orange-cheeked Waxbill tends to become troublemaker in matting season.

These little birds aren’t happy in cages, because they need space to fly and some places where they can hide. Aviaries or large flights will do well, but make sure they have enough plants that form more secluded areas. Beware of toxic plants and materials.

They love to take daily baths so provide them the essentials for this routine: a tub with fresh water accessible for the bird is quite enough. 
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Diet [ edit ]

Orange-cheeked Waxbills are very easy to feed: foreign finch mix, with niger and millet seeds and green food is just enough for a basic diet. Combine this with some insects that in the wild they are used to catch, like mealworms, termites or ant eggs. Fruit can also be a good source of vitamins but they generally reject it.
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