Lonchura oryzivora

Written by on November 19, 2010 in Indonesia Bird with 0 Comments

Lonchura oryzivora, Java Sparrow, Gelatik Jawa


Java Sparrows are large, full-bodied finches. Measuring over 5-1/2″ long. They have impressive beaks that look like they could do some serious damage, however, they are harmless. Males and females are nearly identical in appearance. There are a number of ways to distinguish between the sexes. Like most members of the Lonchura family, the males sing and perform a little dance. The dance is not much to see and many don’t think much about th song, but I find it a pleasant, tropical sounding song. Unlike most mannikins, you can actually hear it for some distance. Waiting for them to sing can be a test of patience however.

A better way to sex Javas is with a couple of visual clues. These differences are better seen in a large group of birds rather than looking at one pair. On a male in breeding condition, the culmen (the top of the beak, especially where it meets the head) has an apparent swelling. A definite ridge will form and the color will turn a deeper red on the males. It is said that the eye ring turns a richer red as well, but I find the beak easier to see.

Despite their large size and formidable beak, Javas are peaceful birds. They will get along well with smaller finches in a mixed aviary setting. The ones they will bicker with are themselves. Get a group of them together and there will be a lot of bill fencing and squabbling noises, but they rarely do this with other finches. I have never kept them with the smallest of waxbills, but I don’t think they would cause them any harm either. I also kept them with the little Rufous-Back Mannikin and that pugnacious little bird held his own against the Javas.

The Java Sparrows diet begins with a basic parakeet seed mix. You can use a standard finch mix, but these often contain a number of smaller millets that the Javas will ignore until the last large white millet is gone. You can also offer them just plain White Prosso and any other seeds in a separate dish. Javas will often seek out the oats in a Parakeet mix and will sift through the seed until they find it all. In a gravity feeder, this means they will drain the entire supply and scatter the seed looking for the oats. It is best to offer them and they will eagerly take egg food (Roy’s egg food mix), gamebird crumbles and green food. I have never seen them eat live food, but suppose they could be enticed to if you really insist (but why feed livefood if you don’t have to). Calcium can be provided in the form of crushed egg shell, crushed oyster shells or cuttlebone, but they are not normally enthusiastic about the cuttlebone. Despite their name, they really don’t eat a lot of Rice. I have offered them Paddy Rice like I do all my Mannikins and Munia, but they are not as enthusiastic about this seed as some of the other Lonchura. They do like the Paddy Rice in a sprouted form.

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