Orange Cheeked Waxbill  


English Name

Orange Cheeked Waxbill

Spanish Name

Estrilda de Cara Anaranjada

Latin Name

Estrilda melpoda





Visually sexing isn't really possible, though some say that most males tend to have a slighting larger and lighter area of grey on the neck than the females do.

Males also sing where as females don't.


During the breeding season the males sing constantly and perform their amusing courtship dance while holding a long grass stem in their beaks.




4 inches. / 9 cm.




Size A 2.2 mm.


They are very flighty and do well in a large flight or aviary. These are not cage birds, they require space and places to hide and feel safe.

In mixed flights, Orange Cheeks will fight very bitterly amongst themselves over mates and nesting sites. They will also attack species that are much larger than themselves.

They are not hard to breed; actually they are one of the more easily bred of the waxbills. Orange Cheeks are generally excellent parents once they've had time to settle down, an Orange Cheek chick will never be thrown out of the nest or neglected by it's parents.


Diet is any good seed mix, millet, live food, and lots of fresh greens or sprouts.

As soon as the eggs begin to hatch, the adults will begin to forage for live food on the bottom of the cage. Provide as much as possible. I have found small, newly moulted mealworms and white worms to be most preferred by them. Some pairs will also accept fruit flies and wax worms. The young are fed exclusively on live food for the first week. Then the parents start to feed them soaked seed, seeding grasses, and egg food, while continuing to feed live food, but less of it.

They feed on tiny grass seeds, which they collect from the ground or, more often, directly from grass panicles. They hang on the stems and harvest the ripe or green seeds, sometimes while hanging upside down. Small insects such as termites, aphids, and gnats are taken during the breeding season.

The parents require live food during their breeding period, fruit flies and mini mealworms being the aviculturists choice, they will take a wide variety of live food types and especially like small spiders. Soaked and germinated seed is taken in large amounts and fed to the chicks, grated cuttlefish bone and possibly some iodised minerals (pigeon minerals) are a prerequisite too.

Foxtail millet, millet, canary grass seed, njger, other small seeds, crumbled boiled egg (whole egg with shell), grit and cuttlebone.

They like to look for food on the ground.


Breeding Cages

3 foot cage at least 2 comers of the cage should be thickly planted but the centre of the cage should be left open to give the birds the opportunity to forage.








Hole Diameter


Finch wicker basket nests are often utilized, but most of my pairs constructed free standing nests on the bottom of the cage. These were typical waxbill nests, consisting of a large main nest and the smaller "cock nest" on top of it. The male takes great pride in his creation, adding to it both while the hen is incubating and after the eggs have hatched.

The usual preference for nesting sites seems to be below one metre high, and nests are usually of their own construction hidden in gorse or conifer branches.

Nesting Material

They use fine grasses, twine, paper and feathers for nesting material.

This species prefers to nest close to or directly on the ground in tangled clumps of tall grass. They will collect the surrounding grass stems together, especially old seed heads (panicles), helping to camouflage the structure. Fine white feathers line the interior.

Breeding Period

One peculiarity about Orange Cheeks is that they do not brood their young at night for very long. Most hens stop at around 4 days and a few even less than that. For the most part, the young seem able to keep themselves warm. But if the adults are nesting in an outdoor aviary, and if it becomes cool and wet, the young will not survive. Young Orange Cheeks are incredibly tiny when they first fledge but they develop very quickly and are generally self sufficient within a few weeks.

Orange Cheeks are easy to feed but should have a varied diet. Egg food makes a good substitute for live food for non-breeding birds but live food is essential for the rearing of young. Seeding grasses are greatly relished and are also used as nesting material and for courtship displays. Make sure that they are collected from an unsprayed source.

Breeding can occur at any time of year but is usually in spring when it is starting to get warmer.


3-6 tiny white eggs.


Orange Cheeks are extremely light sitters and will leave their eggs at the slightest disturbance, especially at the beginning of incubation. It is important to keep activity in the bird room at a minimum at this time or the clutch may be abandoned.


12-14 days. / 11-12 days


16-22 days. / 14-18 days.


Are very prolific and will rear several broods in succession.



Breeding Life


Sexual Maturity

They appear to reach sexual maturity at a fairly early age.





Health Problems





Colour Mutations