Animals : Birds

Java sparrow

Java sparrows are small members of the waxbill family. They are attractive, which makes them popular as pets. They are mostly grey with a pale pink belly fading to white just above the tail. Their head and tail are black with contrasting white cheeks and they have a large bright pink beak.

Males perform a complex courtship dance involving bowing, jumping and singing. Breeding takes place at the end of the rainy season, which varies across the range. The nest of the Java sparrow is a mass of grass and leaves. They have been known to use open roof spaces and cavities to build the nest in. Chicks hatch after around 14 days and leave the nest when they reach just over a month old.

The diet of the Java sparrow is mostly seeds. They tend to forage in large flocks and eat fallen cereal crops such as rice. They will occasionally supplement their diet with insects.

Although native to Java and Bali, this species has been introduced to Malaysia, Fiji, the Caribbean and the United States due to escapes from domestic aviaries. Population numbers of the native Java sparrow have declined in recent years leading to them being classed as Vulnerable. The biggest threat comes from trapping for the bird pet trade. Their flocking behaviour makes them particularly susceptible to mass trapping. Even in areas where they have been introduced, large flocks are still caught for sale. Some farmers consider them an agricultural pest as the birds eat fallen rice grain and so they shoot the birds or destroy their nests.

  • Java sparrow
  • Java sparrow
  • Java sparrow

Key Facts

  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable
  • Distribution: Indonesia
  • Habitat: Grassland
  • Diet: Insects, Seeds
  • Height: 15cm
  • Weight: 20 - 30g
  • No. of young: 3 - 7
  • Life Span: 3 years