The Java Sparrow (Rice Bird)

Java (Rice Bird) Sparrow8,10,11,12,13,21,23
Padda oryzivora (Lonchura oryzivora)
Hardiness:Hardy when acclimatized
Reproduction:Prolific and relatively easy to breed
Singing ability:Excellent
Compatibility:Passive, but too large to mix well with other passive species
[Compatibility Chart]
Size:5.5" (14-15 cm)
Weight:Around 20 grams
Approx. cost:$20-$30 (US) per bird (special mutations may cost more)

Other common names

Java Finch, Java Sparrow, Paradise Sparrow, Ricebird, Rice Bird, Paddy Rice Bird, Rice Munia, Paddy Bird, Temple Bird, Java Temple Bird



Area of distribution

Indonesia, Greater Sundas, Java, Bali, and introduced to many other locations.


Calm but intimidating in stature. This bird is not aggressive but in mixed collections its size may intimidate the more passive species, thus making the Java Sparrow a more suitable companion for the more aggressive finches.

Physical descriptions

About 5 ½" (14-15 cm) long from beak to tail. Head, chin, rump, and tail are black. Back, wings, and chest are a pearl grey. The cheeks are white and the belly is a pink-grey. The beak (which is quite large), legs, and eye ring are pink to red in color. Several mutations exist, including White, Pied, Fawn, Cream, and Silver (dark and light). Juveniles are neutral gray above and light buff below, with some grey streaking on the breast; the beak is horn-colored, but gradually lightens and becomes pink at its base.


Only the cock birds perform a song and dance routine. When in breeding condition, the cock's beak is slightly larger and deeper red than the hen's, and, more reliably, the eye rings may appear more swollen and deeper red.


The male may begin his song by clicking his bill, then will begin to slowly rattle notes, increasing in speed and ending in a drawn out whine. Songs vary among individuals.


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Normal Javas:

Java Sparrow  Java Sparrows

Java Sparrow
Photo by Alan L.

Java Sparrows
Photo by Alan L.

Java Chicks:

Java Sparrow chick  Java Sparrow chicks

Hand Feeding Java Chicks: Photos by Deanna

Java chicks - Photo by Deanna

Java chicks - Photo by Deanna

Java chicks - Photo by Deanna

Hand Tame Pied Java:

Hand Tame Java Sparrow

Favorite foods

Parakeet mix (for its larger seed such as white proso millet), oats, green food, egg food, livefood (mealworms), paddy rice.

Natural habitat

Grasslands, open woodlands, tree savanna, beach forest, cultivated land (areas which grow rice), and mangroves of Java and Bali, although these birds have now been introduced to many other areas.


In the wild, the java sparrow is an open-country finch which is highly social. Outside of the breeding season, flocks of java sparrows move together in search of food, gathering in rice paddies. In captivity, they are gregarious, long-lived, and adore bathing. They often clump together on perches and allopreen. Some Java finches housed with doves will roost or rest beside, beneath, or on top of the doves. Populations of wild Java Sparrows are in decline as they are hunted (both for a food source and in order to protect the rice fields) and trapped for the pet trade.

Special considerations

These birds are illegal to keep in some states, so check with your local fish and game officials before purchasing any. Java Sparrows have reportedly hybridized with Bengalese (L. striata), African Silverbills (L. cantans), Scaly-breasted Munias (L. punctulata), Cut-throats (Amadina fasciata), and Red-headed Finches (A. erythrocephala), so take care not to allow cross breeding to occur if housing these species together.

Breeding season

In the wild, javas breed after the rainy season comes to an end.

Breeding tips

These birds do best housed in groups, either with other javas or other large finches such as weavers and munias (small finches such as waxbills are often intimidated by the javas large size). A larger cage or flight is best, at least 4' long. These birds breed best in a colony-type situation where the birds readily stimulate each other to breed. A male will carry a piece of straw prior to performing the courtship display to a hen. He will often bow before her, click his bill, and hop on the perch toward the hen while remaining bowed. Some males may not sing during the courtship display. Receptive females bow and occasionally hop a few times before soliciting copulation with a crouched posture and quivering tail. Bill fencing may occur after mating takes place. Provide parakeet-sized nest boxes, and coarse building material such as coconut fiber and dried grass. Pairs may build a bulky spheroid nest of grass and fiber with a side entrance; some pairs will line the inside of the nest with feathers. Both birds will incubate the eggs during the day, but only the female incubates at night. Young hatch naked with dark skin. Provide plenty of egg food and even mealworms for rearing purposes. After fledging, the young will return to the nest to roost at night until they are weaned.

Life Cycle

Clutch size:4-6 eggs
Hatch date:After 14 days of incubation
Fledge date:At 21-30 days of age
Wean date:About 50 days of age
First Molt:Three months of age

Related Article(s)

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Java Sparrows

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