Essex-Kent Cage Bird Society Logo 

Breeding Gold-breasted Waxbills


Email Us


Our Annual Shows





Care Sheets:





Bird Articles

Written by Lainey McClaflin
Originally published in The NFSS Bulletin, Vol. 13 No. 6. November-December 1996

Although the Gold-breasted Waxbill is the tiniest finch in captivity, it is by no means the most delicate. Gold-breasts are generally very healthy, and are able to hold their own among much larger and more dominant finches. We keep our Gold-breasts in aviaries with all our other finches, both when they are breeding and when they are resting. They always manage to get enough to eat and drink, and can almost always defend their own nesting sites successfully.

Our Gold-breasts tend to eat a little of everything, bit do not seem to have any strong preferences. They like sprouted seeds, as well as spray millet, but they also eat the other food we give them, including Lafeber granules, eggfood, fruits, vegetables and worms. Baby Gold-breasts particularly enjoy the Lafeber granules, as their tiny beaks have trouble cracking seeds. Gold-breasts like to take baths every day, but the young are so small they can easily drown if the bath water is too deep.

While breeding, our Gold-breasts do best in aviaries between 4’x3’x3’ and 6’x3’x3’, but I think larger aviaries would work just as well. They particularly like to find secluded nest sites surrounded by grasses, branches and artificial foliage. Our Gold-breasts nest high, but I have heard that they will also nest low. They choose small wicker baskets and small tube nests most often, but some build their own nests in branches, and some prefer large, half-open, wooden nest boxes.

Fertility is high among our Gold-breasts, and five chicks per clutch is common. From these large clutches, we will sometimes lose one or two chicks before they finish their first moult. It is particularly important to make sure the fledglings are eating well and are warm enough until they get their first colouring.

On a few occasions we have had problems with competition for nest sites between Blue-capped Cordon-bleus and Gold-breasts in a mixed breeding aviary. Sometimes these two species get along fine, raising their young side by side. But once in a while, we have had our Blue-caps take over the Gold-breast nests, dumping out either the Gold-breast eggs or chicks, and then using the nest as their own.

Banding Gold-breast chicks can be challenging, as most bands fall off their minute legs. Size “A” closed bands sometimes stay on if you put them on just after the chicks fledge. It is also possible to use open aluminium bands if you crush them down to size before putting them on. Gold-breasts’ legs break easily, so it pays to be extra careful when banding them. It is also important to keep an eye on Gold-breasts’ claws, as these can quickly become long and curly, making it difficult for the birds to perch.

For many years importers had been bringing in Gold-breasts from the wilds of Africa in enormous numbers. Now, suddenly, the U.S. has passed legislation to prevent further imports of this species. The Gold-breast needs all our attention and breeding efforts if we want to enjoy its small brilliance in years to come.

Back to main page

Last updated: February 12, 2006