DESCRIPTION 4'/2 to 5 inches (11.5 to 12.5cm). Mousey upperparts and abdomen blended with sky blue on face, throat, breast, uppertail coverts and sides. Accented by crimson ear patches and beak with black tip. Tail a duller blue. Eyes brown, legs yellowish-brown. Female lacks the ear patches, appear on young males after about 5 months.
NATURAL DISTRIBUTION Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia and south from eastern Africa to Zambia.
HABITAT Open country and cultivated areas.
DIET Live food (ant eggs, aphids and spiders), especially during breeding season.
SPECIAL NEEDS Towards end of summer, best housed in indoor aviary or large cage. Imported birds must be carefully acclimatized; a warm (77°F/25°C) indoor and roomy aviary or large cage is essential.
CAGE LIFE Lively aviary bird. Prefers to breed in garden aviaries with thick plantings and variety of nest boxes. Builds oven-shaped nests of fine grasses and feathers, but also accepts half-open nest boxes. Lays 4 to 5 white eggs, incubation 11 to 13 days by both partners, fledging 17 days. Breeds all year, but best to allow only two broods, during May and September.