Bengalese Finch (Society Finch)
Unknown. Believed to have been developed in
Japan from birds originally bred in China. Bengalese (Lonchura striata domestica
) are unusual,
because they are fertile domesticated hybrids. They are thought to have
been created by crosses involving the white-backed munia (L. striata
Typical finch shape, with stocky bill. Coloration variable, thanks to the creation of a number of colour forms. The chocolate self may be considered the original form.
There are a number of feather variants
established, although most are not well-known outside Japan. The crested
form is widely-kept though - this takes the form of a full circular
crest. There is no lethal factor associate with this mutation, so
crested to crested pairings can be carried out, although it is dominant
so that a percentage of chicks bred from crested x non-crested pairings
will still be crested in appearance. There is a much rarer frilled form,
called the chiyoda
, which can be combined with the crested mutation to
create the chiyoda
bonton. Other mutations, with a frill behind the
neck rather than on the chest for example, and sometimes with a crested
appearance have also been created in Japan.
Alongside the chocolate, a fawn
variant has been well-known in the West for many years. An albino
version was the first example of the Bengalese to be seen in Europe,
being exhibited at London Zoo in 1860. Such birds can be distinguished
from dark-eyed whites by virtue of their red eyes. Another pale colour
is the creamino, which varies from a creamy shade to white.
Chestnut Bengalese have become more common over recent years, again
showing some variability in depth of colour, which can range from a pale
milk coffee shade to a true chestnut. Fawns and greys are also now
being bred. Grey, as with pied can be introduced to all the colours
other than pure white.
One of the newer colours which originated during the 1980s in Japan
is the so-called pearl, which has a slightly silvery appearance just
like a pearl. Dilute forms of Bengalese are widely-kept, with their
coloration being less intense than in the equivalent normal form. In
the case of the clearwing, so the wings themselves are paler in colour
than the head. There is also growing interest in creating composite
variants, such as clearwing grey fawns.
It is better to acquire a small group of
four or more at the outset, to be sure of having a breeding pair. Young
birds will be mature within a year.
Highly social by nature, and
will thrive in colonies, which is why in the US especially, these birds
are better-known as society finches. Can also be housed with other small
finches and softbills, even diamond doves (Geopelia cuneata),
but avoid larger species such as Java sparrows (Padda oryzivora)
which may bully them.
Ideal choice for newcomer to the hobby,
the intending exhibitor, or, increasingly, those interested in genetics
and establishing new varieties. Can be housed and bred either indoors
in spacious flight cages, in birdrooms or outdoor aviaries. Also used as
foster parents to hatch and rear the chicks of Australian finches such
as Gouldians (Chloebia gouldiae).
If kept indoors on a permanent basis, then
bathing facilities must be offered. An aviary for these finches should
be sheltered, and may need to be provided certainly with artificial
lighting, to increase the opportunity for feeding during the dark days
of winter, while heating too may be beneficial. Not destructive or
A typical foreign finch seed mix with suit
Bengalese well, augmented with a vitamin and mineral supplement.
Greenfood such as chickweed should be supplied regularly, along with a
soft food which is likely to be eaten in increasing quantities when
chicks are being reared.
A small finch nest box or nesting basket
will be used for this purpose, with the cock revealing his identity at
this stage by singing and displaying in front of an intended mate. It
can be worthwhile ringing cock birds at this stage using split celluloid
rings, which simply clip over the leg, so they can be recognised
throughout the year.
A typical clutch is likely to be
comprised of five or six eggs, with incubation taking approximately two
weeks. Fledging usually occurs when the chicks are just over three weeks
old. They can then be transferred elsewhere once they are feeding on
their own, about two weeks later, by which stage the adult birds may be
nesting again. They can rear two or three clutches in a season.
Be sure to provide a good choice of
nesting sites, preferably at the same height in a communal aviary, to
reduce the risk of any squabbling during this period.
Can be seven or eight years.