The Society (Bengalese) Finch
|Lonchura striata domestica|
|Singing ability:||Somewhat pleasant|
|Compatibility:||Passive, mixes well with other passive species|
|Size:||4" (10 cm)|
|Approx. cost:||$5-$75 (US) per bird, depending on mutation|
Other common names
Bengalese finch, Bengalee, Society Finch
Gregarious, peaceful, calm.
Because this is a sexually monomorphic species, hens and cocks are visually indistinguishable. The "normal" form is considered the chocolate self: the beak is usually two-toned (dark grey on top, silver below), the feathers directly surrounding the beak and throat are nearly black but quickly blend to a deep chocolate colored brown which covers the rest of the bird with the exception of the chest and belly area which are covered in a scallop design of offwhite and chocolate feathers; the rump blends into a black-brown tail. Many color mutations exist in this bird, the most common being a mottled pied, where white feathers are randomly strewn throughout the normal coloring of the bird. Other common mutations include fawn (self and pied) - a light brown colored bird, chestnut (self and pied) - a richer medium-brown colored bird, white, crested (where the head feathers on the very top of the bird's head seem to grow longer and in all sorts of directions), albino, dilute, ino, pearl, and more. Several varieties have been created from cross breeding the Bengalese to the Black Mannikin (L. sygia
), though some of these "new varieties" do not exhibit the same parenting skills that make the Society Finch popular as foster parents
Cocks have a squeaky song and perform a courtship dance (where they fluff up their feathers and hop while singing). A rare hen may sing, but this is usually the exception and not the rule. The contact calls differ between sexes (the female has an "r" sound in her call which the male lacks), but sexing birds by this method requires an experienced listener.
The Bengalese song tends to be a squeaky warble or rattle of notes. Songs vary among individual males and may sound more like the song of the male who raised them (even if fostered by a different species).
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Crested society finches in various colors: chocolate pied, white, and fawn pied.
Crested (chocolate pied) & non-crested (fawn pied) societies huddled in a nest.
Society Finch Nests
Millet, greens, egg food
The society finch is a domestic species, and is not found naturally in the wild. It is most likely a domesticated form of L. striata swinhoei
, the Chinese race of the Striated (or "White-backed") Munia. Another theory is that the Society Finch resulted in China as a man-made cross (fertile hybrid
) between L. acuticauda
and L. striata
. Regardless of their origin, these finches have been selectively bred for centuries in Asia, producing relatively undemanding birds which will breed in small cages and exhibit strong parenting instincts. Interestingly, crossing the Bengalese and other munias tend to result in fertile hybrids
(F2 generation) which are reluctant to breed and whose offspring may actually require Bengalese foster parents
Being a very social bird, society finches will often preen, cuddle, and sleep beside other munias or social finches. Although providing a nest is not required, these birds prefer to roost in a nest box or basket at night. In accordance with their highly social nature, society finches will often cram into the same nest to sleep at night; it is not unusual to see eight to ten birds (as many as will fit) stuffed into a single nest for sleeping. Society finches have such a strong drive to breed that it is sometimes possible (though not guaranteed) to convince a male-male pair or a female-female pair to accept brooding responsibilities if given a ready-made nest with another species' eggs in it.
with other Lonchura
spp., as well as parson finches and some other species outside of the Lonchura
genus (to list a few: cut-throats [Amadina amadina
], red-faced parrotfinches [Erythrura psittacea
], red-cheeked cordon bleus [Uraeginthus bengala
], and several Poephila
spp). Therefore, be careful to avoid cross breeding your society finches. Because they are easy to cage breed and make excellent parents, society finches are the most popular choice for foster parents
, and will often even raise several different species of finches in the same clutch. Bengalese finches appear to be shorter-lived than most other small birds, with an average life span of about 4 years.
This domesticated species will breed year-round.
Because these birds are so social, they often prefer socializing over breeding. If you attempt to colony breed society finches (or breed birds housed in a mixed flight of society finches with other munias), the hens will tend to all share the same nest for egg laying, and all of the birds will cram into the nest for sleeping at night. This greatly hinders breeding efforts. Therefore, for best breeding results, place each male-female pair in its own cage. Society finches are not picky about what type of nest or nesting material you provide, so a nest box or basket or box with coconut fiber nesting material should suffice. Both parents will incubate the eggs and both will roost in the nest at night. Chicks hatch naked and are fed by both parents. They are brooded until they are about 10 days old. When fostering chicks which are normally fed a high protein (insectivore) diet, make sure to select a pair of society finches which will consume a variety of protein rich soft foods (such as egg food
) or which will feed mealworms
to the chicks to ensure that the young are receiving an adequate diet for their development. If transferring chicks into a bengalese nest, make sure that the nest contains similarly sized young (similar size is more important than similar age) to decrease the risk of smaller chicks being out-competed by larger chicks during feedings.
|Clutch size:||3-9 eggs (4-6 most common)|
|Incubation:||Done by both parents, begins after the 3rd egg is laid.|
|Hatch date:||After 16 days of incubation|
|Fledge date:||At 19-25 days of age|
|Wean date:||About 4 weeks of age|
|First molt:||About 3 months of age|
|Sexual maturity:||About 3 months of age|
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Society (Bengalese) Finches