Cordon Bleu

Fluttering against the cage bars is a WHITE-HEADED NUN from the Netherlands Indies and the Malay Peninsula. Perched on the upper branches are the BROWN-BREASTED NUN (left) and the BLACK-HEADED NUN. To the lower branches cling the THREE-COLORED NUN (full face) from India and Ceylon, the CUTTHROAT FINCH (left center), and the lovely CORDON BLEU (blue underparts). In the water splash the tiny ZEBRA WAXBILL (above) and the COMMON WAXBILL (left). The long-lived BRONZE NUN rests on the pool’s brink.

By Alexander Wetmore
Originally appeared in the December 1938 issue of the National Geographic Magazine

This Web version COPYRIGHT 2004

The brightly colored, shiny bill gives the common name of “waxbill” to a group of small weavers found in Africa that are kept universally in aviaries.

Among the more pleasing species is the cordon bleu (Uraeginthus bengalus), another bird of Africa that is a great favorite in aviaries (Color Plate VII). It is sometimes called the “red-cheeked.” or “crimson-eared” waxbill, from the red cheek patch of the male, a mark that is absent in the female. There is a closely related species (Uraeginthus angolensis) of the southern half of Africa in which the male also lacks the red mark.

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