July 10, 2011, The 5th anniversary of the Bali Starling conservation project on Nusa Penida released 100 Java Sparrows (Padda oryzivora). Attendees at the event included: national and international press and TV media; leaders and members from all 41 Nusa Penida villages; Indonesian government officials; the Director of Humane Society International (Australia); and many Balinese and overseas visitors

 Here we have three of my finches eggs all laid in April 2008. Above is the Spice Bird egg 16mm, below is the African Cutthroat egg 18mm, and far below is the Java Sparrow egg 22mm. Amazing all these finches have eggs different sizes but they are all white.
 This is the first of two Java Chicks out of five that hatched in June 2008.

Common names for the Java Sparrow

Java Sparrow, Paradise Sparrow, Java Finch, Java Rice Finch,  Paddy Rice bird, Rice Munia,

Java Temple Bird, Temple Bird, Paddy Finch, Java Rice Bird, Java Paddy Finch, Paddy Bird,

Rice Finch, Rice Bird.

French name:

Padda de Java

German name:


Spanish name:

Gorrion de Java

Local Indonesian names:

Glathik - Javanese

Jelantik - Balinese

Galatik - Sundanese

Gelatik - Central Java

Scientific classification (Taxonamy)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes (perching birds)

Family: Estrildidae

Genus: Padda

Species: Padda Oryzivora (also the Binomial name)

There is talk of changing this name to Lonchura oryzivora.

Domain: Eukaryota

Superorder: Passerimorp


In this chapter I would like to explain the reason for the threats and decline of the Java Sparrow. The species is hunted both as a food source and in order to protect the rice fields and is also trapped for the pet trade. The decline of the Java is also because of the habitat loss, the harvesting of the crops, pest control by farmers, land pollution and competitors.

The main factor for the decline of the Java Sparrow is the human exploitation as a cage bird. The popularity of this finch as a cage bird has resulted in a rapid decline in its population. Intense trapping activity has made this species qualify as a Vulnerable threatened species.

However the role of pesticides has now become a greater issue killing thousands of java’s and is much worst than first thought. Excessive use of pesticides on rice fields commenced in the 1960’s and coincided with a decline in several bird species associated with this habitat. It was also thought that the pesticides affected the health and well being of the farmers.

For what be hundreds of years, Java Sparrows have been caught in considerable numbers for sale at local bird markets and for the international trade. In the street markets they could be found for sale in small chicken-netting baskets. In the past street vendors have sold thousands of these birds. They are mainly hunted in their roosts and caught in large numbers. Apart from ending up in cage and aviaries, hundreds were also traded for food consumption purposes by the Chinese.

Between 1970-1975 the total number of birds exported from Indonesia were over two million and 83% of these birds were Java Sparrows. In 1975 this reduced to 55%. Apparently their is an old newspaper report of a Chinese businessman releasing 6,000 Java Sparrows on Singapore on the occasion of his daughters wedding in 1993. The birds on this occasion were wild caught from Java.

The species is an attractive bird, easy to keep and rapidly tamed, so much that sometimes escaped or released birds will return to their cages.

In the 1970’s there was a ban placed on importing Java Sparrows into the United States of America, Wild Java can be found in Hawaii but are considered to be a agricultural pest. The species is restricted from being kept in some parts of the US in fear that it could destroy crops if released or escape from captivity. Prior to the importation ban in early 1970, the Java Sparrow was one of the most popular cage birds in the USA. Only the Canary and the Zebra finch were more popular. In 1970 wild caught Java Sparrows were sold in America for only $ 1.70 each (86 pence GBP), which made it impossible to sell any captive breed Java’s because of the commanded prices which was many times more than the wild caught birds.

In 1988 the java Sparrow was classed as declining but of lower risk and of least concern but only six years later in 1994 the species was classed as fast declining and very vulnerable.

Since 1993 Indonesia has become a net importer of rice and their has been intense pressure to increase yields, and on both Java and Bali the Java Sparrows are heavily persecuted with adult birds being shot and nests and nestlings being destroyed by the local farmers.

The competitiveness of the relatively new arrival to Indonesia, the Eurasian Tree Sparrow, is thought to have a result on the declining of the Java Sparrow. Both species use the same habitat and eat the same diet. The Tree Sparrow is very common and dominant.

A proposal to convert woodlands on the former Malang Agricultural Academy site into luxury housing has been widely opposed by local people who are using the Java Sparrow, which breeds there, as a symbol of resistance. The Malang Academy sits in East Java, Indonesia. Only 2.8% of the entire forested area in Malang is still intact, the rest has now been cleared mainly for industry and housing.

The threat of lost of the Java Sparrow in the wild has resulted in this species being placed on the IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red list of threatened species. The Java Sparrow has been placed on Appendix 11 of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species and measures are now being taken to preserve and protect the species.

The Java Sparrow is now rare in its original range. The species is a lowland bird and is best described as a woodland edge bird that can also be found in mangroves, grassy areas, tree savannah and beach forest. Also known to be found in fruit plantations and river basins. The species are rarely found over 260 feet. When the species roost at night they keep very close together making physical contact. This makes them an easy bird to net and catch.

Possession of the Java Sparrow in parts of the USA is restricted because of the threat of crop destruction if released or escaped.

Where does the Java Sparrow come from? Originally from native Java and Bali in Indonesia. It is now rare in these ares but can be found in places such as China, Singapore, Borneo, Brunei, Japan, Hong Kong, Christmas Island and Tanzania.

In the Atlantic regions it can be found in St Helena, Florida, Puerto Rico, Fiji and Hawaii.

The Java Sparrow was introduced to countries such as Comoro Islands, Seychelles, India, Australia, New Zealand, Senegal, Egypt, South Africa and Venezuela but later died out from them all.

The Java Sparrow is a beautiful bird that loves to eat and will only be found now where the food is easy obtainable. Harvesting crops, Building residential and business accommodation and cutting back food sources has helped the Java Sparrow become endangered.


Head, nape & chin are black. White cheek patches outlined in black. The primary flight feathers and upper tail converts are also black. A blue-gray covers the birds mantle, back, chest and rump. The belly is a pink colour and under the tail coverts are white. Beak is red-pink colour and so is the legs and eye circles. The belly of a young bird is cinnamon, pale brown colour and it’s head is a dark grey colour. The beak looks impressive and you would have thought they could do some serious damage but they are really harmless.

. Both sexes are almost identical. 5” - 7” inches in length. The average Java Sparrow weighs around 20 - 25 grams. The Java is a small passerine bird as is classed as a estrildid finch.

Hardy when acclimatized and relatively easy to breed. Java’s are calm but intimidating in stature. Not aggressive but may intimidate the more passive species. They normally get along with smaller finches in a aviary setting. The ones that they bicker with are themselves. If your Java’s are colony kept you will hear alot of bill squabbling noises, but they rarely do this with other finches.

The Java Sparrow is classified as a manikin and is from the same classification as Waxbills like the Silverbills, Spice Bird and Cut-throats. It has a lifespan of approximately 7 - 9 years but can be longer when kept in captivity.

Sexing your Java Sparrows.

Sexing a java Sparrow is the hardest part of owning one. Young birds are especially hard to sex. I believe their are four ways to identify the gender of the species.

1) Only the Cock bird will sing. Young male birds will attempt to sing at about 4 - 8 weeks after they have fledge. I use plastic split rings to identify my birds. One on the left leg the same colour for all chicks from the same nest. I put a different colour on each of their right legs to give them their own identity. This makes it easier to identify your cockbirds from your hens and also help to keep apart any brother and sister from breeding. I find any type of singing usually indicates a cockbird. The hen makes a noise but is more of a clicking sound.

2) The beak is another good way to sex your Java’s. A mature male will have a swollen area at the base of the beak. The hen’s beak will be narrower and longer in comparison to the cock bird. The cock’s beak is wider and has more of a blunt tip. A side profile of a males beak reveals that where the beak joins the head, the base of the beak is larger and has a pronounce higher profile or ridge. The profile appears to be swollen and bulging at it’s base. By contrast the females beak is slim, less red, and more of a pink colour.

3) The eye-ring is another way to identify the sexes. The male in breeding condition will have a much darker ring around its eye.

4) the cock bird will have a darker head colour then the hen bird. This is much easier to see on a lighter mutation. Also the head of a cock bird is more prominent then the hen.

The call of a Java Sparrow is a chip, and the song is a rapid series of call notes’ chipchipchipchip. Both sexes chirp and call frequently, but only the cock bird will sing.

Breeding your Java Sparrows.

Breeding extends from February to August with the main focus in April and May. Fledglings are very common in June till August. The nest resembles a untidy, loosely built construction. In the wild nest will be at least 2 - 4 metres apart and Can be found in bushes, treetops, palms and also found in buildings under the eaves. In recent years the species has been found breeding in holes in slots between temple stones and coastal cliffs. In the past java Sparrows have been found to use old nest sites belonging to barbets, woodpeckers and eagles. They have also been known to nest in crevices in limestone caves.

4 to 8 eggs is the usual standard but have been known to lay as many as thirteen. My record is seven fledglings from the nest. The Java Sparrow is not a migrating bird and will only move on in search of food. It’s is recommended that when breeding you should use a 5” x 8” nest box. I actually only use standard 5” x 5” open fronted boxes and have never had a problem but apparently the Java prefers the larger nest boxes. My Java Sparrows use coconut fibre and shredded paper to line their nest boxes and some java’s will tear paper from the floor of the breeding cage and use it in the nest box. I also put a handful of sawdust in the nest box before they start to build. This gives the eggs more support from the birds that are lazy nest builders. It's also important that you treat your nestboxes with mite powder to eradicate any insect presence in the boxes. I treat my nestboxes before the Java's take up home in them?

In the wild the Java will breed after the rainy season comes to an end. This is when their is a abundance of food sources available.

During courtship a Male will carry a piece of straw in it’s beak prior to performing the courtship display to a hen. He will often bow before her, click his bill, and hop on the perch towards the hen while remaining bowed. Some males will 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. In the morning the pair will sit side by side and preen each other.

It is important that the hen is at least twelve months old before she start breeding. At twelve months she will be physically fit, been through the moult and old enough to have learned how to look after her chicks. Young birds will produce smaller clutches of eggs and their will be a good chance they will be clear eggs. A young hen is also prone to egg-binding. If not treated a hen that is egg-bound will die. It is recommended that a Cock bird should be 10 months or older when breeding. It is also said that at four years old you should stop your Java’s from breeding but i think if your birds are happy and willing to breed why not give them the chance.

Your Java Sparrows should be fit and in good condition if you want to breed with them. The cock should be singing his head off. Both cock and hen should be lively, jumping from perch to perch. Beak colour will be brighter and larger.


The eggs will take 14- 18 days to hatch and the chicks will fledge after a further 31 days. They will be independent 14 days after they have fledge. The eggs are white and are 20mm long and 12mm wide. The hen usually lays one egg a day and this is usually in the morning. Provide a birdbath for your breeding pair this will bring the necessary moisture required into your nest box for the eggs to incubate correctly. Java’s can starve their eggs of air if they both sit to tight on the eggs and will kill the embryos inside the egg. I find it best to leave infertile eggs in the box along with the chicks. This stops the chicks from getting squashed.

When the chicks have hatched the will be able to live on their own egg for the first few hours before the parents start to feed them.

The Hen will incubate the eggs at night but the pair will share the deed during the day. It’s recommended that your Java’s are only allowed three clutches per year. I find that the breeding season only allows for three clutches anyway and this allows your birds much needed time for exercise and conditioning.

At three - five months old the Java Sparrow can look very ugly because they will be going through the moult. That is when they exchange their young feathers for adult feathers. When the Java Sparrow’s reach between 6-7 months old they will be in full Adult feathers. This is indeed an exciting time, you have now watched your youngsters grow into adults.


18 days Incubation (Sitting on the eggs)

Eggs should now hatch if fertile.

31 days from hatch date the Java’s will fledge (Leave the nest).

14 days after leaving the nest the Java should be independent, feeding themselves.

At this stage you can separate the youngsters from their parents.

When 3-5 months old they go through the moult.

When 6-7 months old they will be adults.


Try hard not to pick up any eggs from the nest boxes. The only time you need to touch them is to see if they are fertile. If all the eggs are infertile you will need to discard them. This way the Hen will start laying again. If the pair lays lots of eggs, for example 13 - 17 you may have two hens paired together. Usually the eggs need to be ten days old before you check them. If the egg has red veins and an all over look of red about it, then it will be fertile.


In captivity

My Java Sparrows receive the following food daily.

Foreign Finch mix, Mixed Canary seed, Millet spray, Standard Grit mixed with freshly crushed baked eggshells, Pigeon mineral pecks and Oyster shell. I also sometimes add charcoal and black minerals.

When they are feeding their youngsters I keep them topped up with egg food. I also give them greens including Chickweed, dandelions, lettuce, apple, carrot, peas & sweet corn. I also feed my Java’s on 50/50 Budgie mix, this is made up of mainly millet and they love it. I also give them Paddy Rice which also goes down well. On the odd occasion I give my Java’s mealworms but they are not a great fan of them. I also give them daily bathing water, which when breeding will use till it’s all gone. I also give them drinking water in fountains. I add calcium to the water about three times a week. I use Calcijet which is diluted 2mm into 2 litres of water. This lasts forever but you must remember to keep it out of the sun.

In the wild

The Java Sparrow in the wild will mainly eat rice from the fields, this is because it is in abundance in Java & Bali. The word given to the Java Sparrow is Oryzivora which means rice-eater. In the wild the Java bird keeps in flocks and mass movements have been seen in their search for food. This species sometimes take small seeds of grasses and flowering plants for which it has earned a pest status. Rice is sometimes only harvested once a year and the species has to survive on other seeds. In the wild they have also been noted eating insects and bamboo seeds.


Original (Grey):

This is the colour that we all know and love. It’s the same colour as the Wild Java.

White Java:

Pure white Javas are lovely looking birds. I only have one of this type which was from a normal grey pair which must be split.

Pied Java:

Occurs in two distinct forms, Mottled Pieds and Saddleback Pieds.

Fawn Java:

I have bred many of this colour. A really nice looking bird. Also sometimes known as cinnamon.

Silver Java:

A pale-grey appearance. I have bred many this colour from pairs of normal Javas that are split with silver. These always do well on the show bench.

Pastel Java:

Overall body colour is muted, appearance is a diluted colour.

Cream Java;

Pastel together with a Fawn will produce very pale creams.

Opal Isabel Java:

Silver with a Fawn will produce this Mutation. The main difference between the Opal Isabel and the Cream is the wings and back colour. Opal Isabel has a pale fawn back and wings  and the Cream Java has a very pale Cream wing and back.


Agate Java:

Rare, not a lot known about them. I have seen some which once belonged to Tony Gladwin before he gave up the hobby. Very striking and lovely looking birds.

Red Eyed White Java:

This Java is really a Cinnamon white which accounts for the red eyes. I am now the proud owner of one red eyed white Java, bred from a pair of white Java's.

Black Headed Java:

Another rare type of Java. Again never seen by myself but I know some people keep them. The head is completely black with no white markings around the head and chin.

If you know of any more mutations please e-mail and I will update this page. Many thanks.


Steve Downes (Norwichfinchman)

All the above mutations are recognised forms in the UK. Further information can be found on the Java Sparrow Society UK Website. I understand that different parts of the World uses different terminology for types of mutations.

 Below is one of my Java Chicks coming out of it's egg. What an amazing site! May 2008.

 The top picture is the  new shape nestboxes that hang from the wire on the roof of my avairies. They are used alot by my Java Sparrows. They are easy to guard and their is no perch at the entrance which alot of other species look for in their nest boxes. The nest boxes make use of the extra space in the flights and the Java Sparrows love them. They cost around £5 each and you can get them cheaper at the big bird sales around the UK. 

Second picture is one of my Fawns on the left looking at the camera and the opel Isabel cock who has turned his back on the camera.

Third picture is my beautiful Silver Java that won best in the show at Norfolk FBA. (5th Oct 08).

Fourth picture is my breeding pair of Java's. Cock Isabel on the right and Fawn hen on the left.

Fifth picture is of my breeding pair of fawns. Cock bird on the right and hen bird on the left. Notice the different in the sexes: Cock has the darker coloured head and the darker red lower beak. The Cocks beak is also raised higher above the eye line. 

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