(Lonchura domestica) Pictures
The Bengalese are totally unique to aviculture, since it does not occur in the wild, and its origins have been researched and debated. Any possible involvement of the Silverbill (Lonchura malabarica) in the ancestry of the Bengalese Finch was discounted by Dr Desmond Morris. Most opinion now agrees that Bengalese are derived from the Striated Mannikin ( Lonchura striata ). Since Bengalese were probably developed in China, it seems likely that the sub-species known as L. s. swinhoei, occurring in China itself, and possibly L. s. subsquamicoelis, were both involved in its early development. The first Bengalese were seen in Japan about 1700, and introduced to Europe as recently as 1860.

A typical foreign finch diet suits these birds well, although they will often show a preference for millet sprays. While greenfood is popular, Bengalese tend not to consume large amounts of livefood.

Bengalese are hardy birds which live well on a colony basis, and can be kept alongside other small finches in a mixed aviary.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to sex Bengalese by sight out of the breeding season, unless the cock gives voice to the characteristic song. Housing two birds within sight of each other can precipitate this behavior, but may not necessarily be indicative of two hens if there is no response from either individual. Once identified, it is worth ringing birds of known sex using split celluloid bands. Bengalese will breed satisfactorily either in cages or aviaries, and are mature by nine months of age. Their white eggs can number up to eight in a clutch, although four or five is average. The incubation period is about 12 days and the chicks fledge within about three weeks. Pairs are likely to prove prolific, but should be restricted to a maximum of three clutches per year. Various color mutations have been established. Bengalese have also been hybridised with other Lonchura species. In combination with the Bronze-winged Mannikin, they have given rise to predominantly black hybrids. The hen lays from 3 to 8 eggs.

Bengalese make an ideal introduction to the hobby of breeding finches, and they are usually keen to nest, and make very reliable parents. It is for this reason that they have become so widely used as foster parents for the young of Australian finches, particularly the rarer varieties. Many breeders specialize in Bengalese for exhibition purposes however, and standards are established for these birds. Unlike budgerigars for example, Bengalese are normally exhibited in pairs, with several classes for the various colors and the crested form. It is vital in this instance that the birds correspond as closely as possible to each other, in terms of appearance. This applies especially for those birds with pied markings. Because of their social natures, Bengalese are also known as Society Finches, especially in the United States.


E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca



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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.