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Target Species challenge welcomes surge in declining orange-cheeked

Orange-cheeked-Waxbill03SPECIAL FOCUS ON breeding the orange-cheeked waxbill (Estrilda melpoda) has resulted in 31 being bred by Waxbill Finch Society (WFS) members in 2016 – compared to just one in 2015.

Last May, the WFS introduced a new Target Species award to be presented to each member who breeds the chosen species for that year. The first species to be nominated was the orange-cheeked waxbill.

“Seven members bred 31 of the Target Species, which is the most bred since 2008,” explained Neil Bickell, WFS breeding returns officer.

“This is fantastic news considering that last year just a solemn one was reported.”

The WFS committee will continue with the orange-cheeked waxbill as a Target Species for 2017, to hopefully boost captive-bred numbers, and has voted for an additional Target Species.

Mr Bickell said: “The choice shortlisted was: black-cheeked waxbill, lavender finch, red-cheeked cordon bleu, black-and-white mannikin, St Helena waxbill, red-eared waxbill and Peters’s twinspot. But the red-cheeked cordon bleu won as its numbers have dropped considerably over the past few years.

“Though 2016 saw the highest numbers [50] being bred for many years, it is a long way short of the 200-plus bred in 2011.”

A first breeding for the society was of nine blackfaced firefinch (Lagonosticta larvata nigricollis), bred by Peter McGough from Whitehaven, Cumbria. In 2016, Mr McGough bought two pairs from breeders in Holland, having waited more than two years.

He explained: “I paired up both in early June and both pairs laid on the same day on July 1. I bred eight young from them (five cocks and three hens).

“It is a delicate species and needs to be kept on its own in pairs. I keep mine in 4ft double breeding cages and at a minimum temperature of 60°F all year round.”

A total of 121 members submitted breeding returns. African silverbills were bred in the highest numbers with 332, followed by 198 blue-capped. Several species having all-time breeding highs included the purple grenadier (53) and blue-billed firefinch (45).

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