Species group: Mannikins and Munias
Other common names: Bengalese Finch; Japanese Mövchen Finches
Scientific name: Lonchura domestica
The Society Finch is a hardy, agreeable finch that has been domesticated for hundreds of years. Easy to feed, eager to breed, and available in a range of color mutations or even sporting a crest, the Society Finch is the number one or number two most popular pet finch in the world. They're active and fun to watch, and if you decide to raise more valuable finches later, you may even be able to use your Society Finch pairs as foster parents.
The full story of the Society Finch has been lost down through the centuries, but DNA studies suggest that one of its most important ancestors was the White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata.). Some historians have suggested that there were other Lonchura species that were also bred into the mix to create the adaptable domesticated species. Most people believe that the original Society Finches were created in China and then imported into Japan around 1700. They arrived in Europe much later, and Europe's first Society Finches may have been a pure white pair first put on display at the London Zoo in 1860.
As a domesticated finch, there is no natural form to describe, but the basic Society Finch is a small, perky mannikin with a heavy-looking seed-cracking bill. They may be all dark chocolate, all white, or any number of brown and white color combinations in between. Many are two-toned brown and white birds.
12 grams (0.4 oz.)
10 - 13 centimeters (4 - 5 in.)
5 - 8 years
Behavior / temperament:
Their great personality makes these little brown, tan, and white birds worth a second or third look. They can be used to create a colony breeding aviary, or they can fill in a mixed-species aviary. They are active and nosy, and you need to keep an eye on things to make sure they aren't bothering more sensitive species, but they're easy-going and not trying to harm the other birds. They just want to be into everyone's business.
Only the males sing and display, to impress the females. Watch for this behavior, as you can't sex these birds based on their plumage. To keep them strong, don't breed crested birds to other crested birds, and don't breed pure white birds to pure white birds. If crests or white birds do pair up, give them artificial eggs to sit on, or let them foster another pair's eggs, instead of allowing them to hatch out weak or blind babies.
It is a very rare Society Finch indeed that would want to fly to or be handled by a human. For the most part, they are curious about us and enjoy watching us from their territory, but they do not want our hands or fingers poking into their cage.
Society Finches exercise by flying rather than hopping or climbing, and they are happiest flying in their own territory, although a few rare birds have learned to fly to their owners. Many so-called finch cages are only suitable to serve as hospital or temporary homes for birds awaiting sale. The permanent home of a pair of Society Finches should be 36” in length, 24” in width, and 18” in height, with ½” bar spacing. A larger flight would not be excessive. A variety of perches, swings, and even toys will keep them busy and allow them to provide you with endless action and entertainment. They love bathing, so have a bath available, or you may find them trying to splash in the drinking water.
It's possible to house Society Finches in colonies or aviaries, and if you decide to provide a very large flight, you may wish to add more pairs. As a rule of thumb, always remember that finches can't count above six. Therefore, if you want to prevent a pecking order from developing in a flock, you can have one pair of birds in the flight, or you can have three pairs or more in the flock, but if you have between 3 and 5 birds, then the finches at the bottom of the pecking order could be harassed, injured, or even killed. Society Finches are very curious and will look into other birds' nests, causing more sensitive birds to give up their breeding attempt, so you should not house them with rare species.
Domesticated to suit human convenience for hundreds of years, the Society Finch is remarkably easy to feed, although you should never expect this bird to subsist on dry seed alone. However, the backbone of the diet will be a small seed mix, so obtain the best quality you can afford. They love many varieties of millet, including spray millet. The seed should be fresh enough to sprout, and you should test it by sprouting it regularly. You should also supply a small chopped salad containing such items as chopped romaine, grated carrot, fresh sprouts, chopped apple or grapes, and other dark greens such as chickweed or dandelion. This species does not demand live insects, one of the reasons they're considered an “easy” finch, but they should certainly be offered eggfood throughout courtship and breeding. All finches should have access to grit, as well as cuttlebone or another source of calcium.
Written by Elaine Radford
good parents, good beginner bird, social nature, endless entertainment, great starter finch
sudden loud noises, solitary life, heart failure, relatively plain plumage, egg binding
little birds, crested, busy little finches, inexpensive finch breed, noncrested society finches
Inexpensive and delightful to watch
I had finches growing up, but was never really much of a bird person. While working in a large pet store a few years ago, however, we had some Society Finch eggs get overlooked during routine cage cleaning, and out hatched 9 babies. Ill equipped to care for them, and not allowed to keep them in the cage with the parents, my manager was at a loss as he wasn't about to cull them. So, being the big softie for animals in distress, I took a crash course in hand feeding and took them in.
Each bird needed to be fed every 2 hours for the first week or so--I forget exactly how long that lasted! But they ate voraciously and were growing well. At about week 3, one clutch began to develop issues keeping food down. My vet wasn't sure what there was to be done about it; each of the five birds in that clutch died within a week. The other clutch, which I kept separate from from the time that I got them, thrived with no issues. Feeding them was a delight. They identified me as their 'mom', and would flock to me eagerly and land on my hands and arms when it was time to eat.
Once they became weaned adults they did become hand shy. However, they would flock to the front of their cage to greet me when I came in to the room, and would peep and call at me when I talked to them. Overall it was a very rewarding experience.
I did eventually give them away to a friend with an aviary; they are living there happily to this day!.
From amandarenee007 Jun 22 2015 10:26PM
Super sweet, sociable finches
If you’re looking for an easy to keep, agreeable finch then society finches are it. They were one of the first types of finches I kept and one that I continued to keep for quite a while even after I’d mostly switched to more exotic species.
Society finches are incredibly peaceful birds that nearly never fight. Even when they do squabble it’s hard to call it fighting. As their name suggests, they’re very social birds and should always be kept with other society finches.
When they’re resting during the day, they tend to sit closely on the perches and at night all pile on top of each other into nests. It doesn’t matter how many nests you provide, they prefer to share.
These birds do breed very easily and tend to be fairly good parents. I had to hand feed one batch of babies, but only because they’d fledged too early and the first time parents didn’t recognize their own babies outside of the nest. Those babies that we did hand raise were some of the sweetest little finches I’ve ever met.
Society finches can be hand tamed when kept in small cages. They don’t fly as much as a lot of other species and while they still look the happiest in an aviary, they are better suited to smaller cages than most other finches.
Society finches mix well with most other species of finch in an aviary situation. Their habits and appearance are different enough from most more aggressive species that feistier birds tend to ignore the society finches even if they’re being territorial with their own kind. The only problem can occur if the societies try to share a nest with a less sociable bird, but they seem to get the message not to do that fairly quickly.
The male and females are the same color, which does make them harder to sort out if you either don’t want to breed them or are trying to separate out breeding pairs. The easiest way to tell them apart is by watching for the male’s mating display.
When they sing, they look and sound like little animatronic birds. It’s maybe not the most impressive courtship dance, but it is incredibly cute.
Society finches are adaptable, affordable birds that are easy and enjoyable finches to keep..
From gardenfairy Sep 13 2014 12:32AM
I was about 20 years old, renting a room from an older lady, going to college, working and really missed having a pet. My landlady agreed that I could have a bird or fish as long as I kept it in my room. We had a canary when I was a kid, never had success with goldfish, so I decided a bird would be the way to go. I did no research and I didn't have much money to spend. I was out garage sale shopping one day and came across a woman who was selling these cute little birds. She had a big enclosure in her back yard of a whole bunch of finches. She picked out a pair of finches for me, sold me an almost new cage, gave me a few pointers and I was off. At first it was great fun to have these little birds chirping away...but that's about all they did. They ate, pooped (everywhere) & chirped - a lot. I quickly learned why you cover the little guys at night...to quiet them down! I couldn't really handle them, play with them or do much of anything with them. Cleaning the cage was a pain - and it wasn't only the cage - it was the wall, the floor and wherever the bird seed, poop & feathers flew. One day in the fall, after the weather grew cooler, I came home to find both birds on the bottom of the cage - feet up. No idea why - other than maybe it got too cool for them? While I was a bit surprised and even a little sad - I certainly wasn't broken up. I don't recall even naming the poor birds, so I must not have been too attached. My advice? Do your research, don't be hasty and do your best to avoid making a bad decision like I did..
From debzkorner Jun 12 2015 4:15PM