Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus bengalus)


French: Cordonbleu à joues rouges German: Schmetterlingsastrild Spanish: Azulito carirrojo

Fringilla bengalus


, 1766,



Occasionally hybridizes with U. angolensis in S Tanzania (Songea, Mikindani). Proposed race littoralis (described from Mombasa, in Kenya) treated as a synonym of brunneigularis. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • U. b. bengalus (Linnaeus, 1766) – S Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Ghana E to S Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, S to W Cameroon, Central African Republic, NE DRCongo, Rwanda and Kenya (W of Rift Valley, S to L Victoria).
  • U. b. brunneigularis Mearns, 1911 – S Somalia and Kenya (from L Baringo E to coast) S to NE Tanzania (S to North Pare Mts and Tanga).
  • U. b. ugogensis Reichenow, 1911 – S Kenya (Mara) and Tanzania (from Serengeti and Mt Kilimanjaro S to Rukwa, Usanga Flats and Iringa).
  • U. b. katangae Vincent, 1934 – S & SE DRCongo (S Kasai, Katanga), NE Angola and N Zambia.
  • Introduced in Hawaiian Is.

    Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; 8·9-11 g (nominate). Male nominate race has crown to back and upperwing light grey-brown to mid-brown, primary P9 narrow near tip on inner web, rump,... read more


    Distance contact call, given when separated from mate, when disturbed and when in flight, a thin... read more


    Thornbush, bushy grassland and sahelian and N guinean woodlands; often found in village areas with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small grass seeds, also termites (Isoptera), moth larvae (Lepidoptera). Feeds on the ground in cultivation, edges of thickets and grassy... read more


    Breeds in late rains and early dry season (mainly Sept–Dec) in Senegal, Apr–Jan (mainly Jul–Oct, May and Jul–Sept)... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to very common in most of range, and locally abundant. Generally widespread. Very widely kept in captivity.

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2018). Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus bengalus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 March 2018).