Society Finches (Lonchura striata domestica)
Society Finches (Lonchura striata domestica) are often called Bengalese finches. Like zebra finches, society finches are good pet birds for beginners. For information about their housing and basic care requirements please see the article on Keeping and Caring for Small Finches.
Society finches come in different color patterns:
- dark brown mottled with white (often referred to as chocolate pied)
- light brown mottled with white (often referred to as fawn pied) like the bird in the top photo
Also like zebra finches, society finches belong to the family Estrildidae and the order Passeriformes. However, unlike zebra finches, society finches do not exist in the wild. Society finches are a man-made creation. It is believed that society finches are the domesticated form of the white backed munia Lonchura striata (also known as white backed mannikin, white rumped munia, and white rumped mannikin).
Below you'll find two photos. The photo on the left is of a dark brown pied society finch. Compare this to the photo on the right of a white rumped munia, to which society finches are closely related.
Society finches are small birds, reaching an adult size of approximately 4-4.5 inches (10-11.4 cm).
Society finches are peaceful birds that can be successfully housed with other small, peaceful finches. They are very social birds and will sometimes form friendships with other closely related finch species. You must always keep at least two society finches because they don't thrive as solitary birds.
Sexing Your Society Finches
Unfortunately, sexing society finches is next to impossible. Males and females look identical (at least to us humans). It is said that males sing more, and of course only the females lay eggs.
The Society Finch Song
I find the song of society finches to be pleasant and their song is not very loud. Watch the You Tube video below to hear the society finch song. The brown and white bird in the video is a society finch, but I suspect that the white bird is actually a zebra finch.
A Few Notes About the Above Video
Notice the nest in the video. This is the appropriate type of nest to be used with society finches (and also for zebra finches). They are inexpensive (approximately four US dollars) and are sold at most pet stores.
Another point I'd like to bring up from the video is the perch spacing. Notice in the video how the finches are able to hop from one perch to another without flying. This isn't what you want. The perches need to spaced far enough apart so that your finches are forced to fly from one perch to another. This is how they get their flying exercise, which is very best for their good health.
Although the society finches in the video do look healthy, another thing to point out from the video is that this isn't the proper sized cage for finches. Finches need a flight cage that is longer than it is tall. Their cage needs to be approximately 30 inches (76.2 cm) long. Unless you are planning on giving them lots of out of cage time then they must have a large enough cage so that they can fly in their cage.
Breeding Society Finches
Like zebra finches, society finches are nest sleepers as opposed to perch sleepers. I have a cage that houses two society finches and I sometimes find them sleeping in their food dish because I don't have a nest in their cage.
The reason I don't have a nest in their cage is because I don't want them to attempt to breed yet because they are too young. Trying to breed finches that are too young causes problems. It may cause egg binding in a young female and also because young finches often don't make good parents. Never attempt to breed finches that are younger than nine months old and a year old is probably even better.
Because society finches are not sexually dimorphic you may not even be sure you have a male female pair. You could keep them in a small group if you have the room and let them pair themselves off. Just be sure you have the room - never overcrowd your bird cage.
When you are ready to try to breed your society finches you should get them a nest and some nesting material. They like an enclosed nest with a small opening - the kind that was shown in the video.
If you have a male/female pair and provide them with a nest they will usually lay about 4-5 eggs, which will hatch in about 2 weeks.
Feeding Society Finches
Feed them a high quality food for finches and canaries. Pellets are best for them, but many finches won't accept pellets after they've gotten used to an all seed diet.
In addition to their regular feed, give them fresh fruits and veggies each day. Many finches are reluctant to try new foods, but if you keep offering them fresh food eventually they may try it.
They especially like dark, leafy greens, such as spinach and romaine lettuce, apples, oranges, berries, and matchstick or grated carrots. Be sure to feed them only small amounts of these new foods, especially in the beginning. Remove all uneaten fruits and vegetables within 8 hours (and 4 hours is even better).
Many pet birds suffer from malnutrition because they aren't given a varied diet. Society finches that are well fed and well cared for can live 10 or more years.