This little cutie is also known as red-cheeked Blue Wax bill and is a resident breeding bird in drier regions of tropical sub-Saharan Africa. It is frequently seen at open dry grassland and savanna habitats as well as around human habitation. Like other members of its genus, the Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu is a very small finch, measuring only 12.5–13 cm (4.9–5.1 in) in length. It weighs 9.9 g (0.35 oz) on average and has a life expectancy of 5-10 years.
The Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu is a granivore, feeding principally on grass seeds, but also on millet and other small seeds. It is also known to feed sporadically on beeswax.
The adult male has uniformly brown upper parts, pale blue breast, flanks and tail and a yellow belly. There is a red patch on each cheek, but this can rarely appear orange or even yellow. The female, which looks like the male except for the red patch on the cheeks, resembles the Blue-capped Cordon-bleu. The Blue-capped is paler, has a longer tail and the bill is pinkish rather than red
The Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu is reported to be “among the most popular exotic finches”. While it has no special housing requirements, its habit of roosting on open branches (rather than in a nest or other protected area) makes it sensitive to low temperatures. During the breeding season, captive males become very aggressive towards each other, and birds disturbed during incubation will typically leave the nest.