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Meet the Java Sparrow – Something Different for Finch Enthusiasts

Rice BirdI’ve always viewed the Java Sparrow, Padda oryzivora, (a/k/a Java Rice Bird, Java Finch) as something of a “stepping stone” between the small, typical finches and the larger, less common softbills.  Indeed, the moniker “sparrow” fits it well – despite being a true finch, its relatively large size (5 ½ inches), stout build and thick bill lend it a distinctly “un-finch-like” appearance.

Range and Status

Native to Bali, Java and neighboring Indonesian Islands, the popularity of these attractive birds has resulted in widespread introductions – Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar, Australia and St. Helena’s are only a few of the far-flung locations that support feral populations.

Unfortunately, cultivated rice is a favorite food, an so the “Rice Bird” has been hunted to near extinction in parts of its native range, and is listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN and included on Appendix II of CITES.

Java Sparrows as Pets

Java Sparrows are not bred as often as most finches, but are well established in captivity and, in my opinion, deserving of much more attention.  The beautiful blue-gray body feathers are nicely set off by a jet black head and tail and white cheeks, and they are very hardy and rather “steady” in demeanor.  White, pied, brown and other color morphs are readily available as well.

Despite their formidable bills, Java Sparrows are not overly aggressive; they are gregarious by nature and breeding groups do well in large outdoor aviaries.  Smaller birds are also usually well-tolerated.  Single pairs have nested in large indoor cages.

Feeding Java Sparrows presents no problems, as they do very well on Finch Seed Mixes supplemented with some rice and frequent feedings of sprouts and greens.



Further Reading and Video

You can read more about Java Sparrows and see a video of them in the wild here.

Java Sparrow image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Jason L. Buberel



  1. avatar

    I love Java Finches. I moved to Nevada and have not been to locate any in my area. Do you know of any breeders in the Southwest area of the US? Any help you can give, I really would appreciate.

  2. avatar

    Hello JoAnn, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. Your best option would be to check the classifieds of the National Finch and Softbill Society; I don’t see any listed now, but breeders offering less common birds such as troupials, tanangers, etc. should be able to direct you, as it’s a fairly small specialty.

    Check also the breeders listed by the American Federation of Aviculture and the Avicultural Society of America.

    Good luck and please let me know how you do.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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