Thursday, December 29, 2011

One More Loss


I just lost the last chick.

Not sure what happened there........well back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Show Quality Bengalese

Here in Sydney we have some very good exhibition quality Bengalese and in particular a breeder here Les who is a member of the NSW Finch Exhibitors Society that I am a member of has excellent stock. Below is an image of a pied Bengalese that I picked up in a pair off Les a few months ago and I have to say that although they are not Selfs, after keeping them for a while I have a great appreciation for the shape an form of these Show Bengos. They are a much larger finch than my selfs, but above all the shape or what is called "Type" amongst the Exhibitors and Judges is particularly impressive. You can see that the head here is quite large and the body has a fairly solid look but the shape of the bird actually has very nice lines. The wings on this Hen always come together on her back into a single point for each wing and also the two wing tips always rest tip to tip. I have not owned a Bengalese Finch that displays such nice form before.

You can see in the image to the right here the considerable size differences between my nice Chocolate Self and this Show Pied. I would say that the size of this Bengo would be similar to that of a Diamond Sparrow. When you pick one of these guys up, you really know you have a bird in your hand, a lot of bulk and muscle, defiantly not a delicate little Waxbill.
I would like to show bengalese in the future but I believe that I will have to develop size and type into my Selfs if I am going to compete here in Sydney. Unfortunately the selfs just have not had the following as I have already commented about here on the blog.
It all takes time.


Chocolate Clearwing

 I have altered an image to try and show what a Chocolate Clearwing might look like if there was one.

Looks pretty cool.

Two Lost

Unfortunately today my nesting pair of Bengos threw out two of the three young, I'm  not sure why but from talking to some friends, it is not necessarily uncommon. This could be these birds first attempt at breeding I'm not sure but it can take finches a few go's to get it right sometimes.

Well hopefully the one left will be OK.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Clearwing 2

As mentioned before, there are still remnants of the Clearwing mutation (or Pastel as it has been called) in Australia. They are a recessive trait and traditionally they occur in Ginger and Dilute Ginger Bengalese Finches.

As seen above the Mutation can vary into other colours

Especially here we see a fairly dark Red/Brown (Ginger) and personally think it has quite a striking appearance with the heavier contrast

I am curious as to whether the Clearwing Mutation can occur in the darker birds like the Chestnut and Chocolate. I will be keeping an eye out for any images to share.

Not a Stubborn Hen Anymore

Well my pair of Light Chestnut  and Chocolate Bengalese Finches now have three one day old chicks.

Sooo Tiny  :-)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Grey Self Bengalese 2

The Grey Self Bengalese is named according to the parent bird that is underlying in the colour such as Chocolate, Chestnut and Ginger. The Grey mutation for these colours simply does not have the Red/Brown element present in the feathers.

 Chocolate Grey (Black Grey) Self

Chestnut Grey Self

Ginger Grey (Red/Brown Grey) Self

Heres a few more pics of some Grey Self Bengos from overseas

Dilute Ginger Grey Self

Chocolate Grey (Black Grey) Self

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Clearwing 1

One of the Bengalese Self Mutations that has been present in Australia in recent years is what was called the "Pastel" in Queensland and overseas is called the "Clearwing".

Here is an excerpt from the proposed Qld BBS standard regarding this colour...

Pastel (Dilute Fawn)
Head, neck upper breast and tail dilute red brown. Cheeks, mantle and wing coverts cream. Wing flights off-white. The lower breast and underparts white without flecks
Beak - upper and lower mandible horn
Legs - horn coloured

Unfortunately due to the decline in breeders of the Self Bengalese in recent years, this colour has also suffered in numbers. Through my friend Tim, I am only aware of one breeder in Queensland that keeps some and they are actually slightly pied also, but at least there is hope to re-establish the Clearwing colour in the future.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chestnut Young

Here is a picture of two of the young chestnuts on the right and their mother on the left. They are going well in the holding cage and I think they are beginning to moult.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Proven Wrong

Well, funnily enough, despite my groaning about my "Stubborn Hen", two days ago I discovered an egg in the nest!! So there you go, not so "Stubborn" after all! Yay! I'm looking forward to seeing how many she lays.

Also yesterday I moved the 3 young Chestnuts and their Father into the holding cage and and have moved my Light Chestnut Cockbird in with the Chestnut Hen.

See how they go together.....

Cheers All

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The weather has been gloomy, dark and wet for a week..... so the hopes of my stubborn hen getting excited have now been squashed...


Friday, December 2, 2011


I have been a member of the Aussie Finch Forum for the last few months and I find it to be an extremely helpful online community of Finch enthusiasts (Finchos). The Forum is well established and quite large with an excellent variety of topics (its easy to get lost, there is so much good stuff) with plenty of people that hare happy to support and answer questions. There are regular members of the forum with large number of posts one of the Moderators I have noticed has 8000+ posts to their name!!!!. There is even a For Sale and Wanted sign up and have fun!

I was browsing through last night and looking through some of the reviews for Bird Sales that happen across the country and I stumbled upon a picture of a pair of birds that were being sold at the Cessnock Bird sale this year in May. They were Labled as White Bellied Munias and were priced at $30 for the pair (seen below).

In my opinion these look like Chocolate Self Bengalese. From my experience so far I have never heard of the White Bellied Munia being kept in Australian Aviculture. And have never seen any Australian pictures that look like the White Bellied Munia (Right). You can see how much lower the brown breast line comes down when compared to the scolloped breast of the Bengalese. Do not get the name of this finch confused with the White Rumped Munia that is Lonchura striata (Bengalese), the White Bellied Munia is called Lonchura leucogastra.

There is also a chance that the finches from this bird sale were Javan Munias,  however the Javan Munia (Lonchura leucogastroides) is fairly rare finch in Australia and can be priced up to $150pr. You can see that a pure, wild Javan Munia (left) has a significantly defined line separating the  dark brown/black breast and a white/cream underbody.
The Lonchura in the top photo show quite a dirty looking underbody (the picture quality makes it hard to see any Bengalese markings) and a blended line between the brown breast and the underbody which generally affirm the opinion that these are Bengos. Also the Javan Munia is a fairly petite and small finch and the Finches in the top picture look fairly well sized.

The names for some of the Lonchura family in Australia can be used quite loosely sometimes and I have seen Bengalese sold as "Mannikin Finches" and Mutated Javan Munias sold as "Munia Finches"

It all makes for good discussion but I think that there is a high chance that the owner of these Finches in the top picture had knowledge of the Bengalese origins being from the White Rumped Munia and wanted to give these nice looking little guys a little more value by labeling them with their natural undomesticated wild name. It's just that they had gotten the name a little bit wrong...... not that hard to do I think, White Bellied, White Rumped.........tomaeto, tomarto.

In any case if they are Bengos then it good to see some Selfs floating around out there!!

Cheers All!

My Stubborn Hen

I have tried my light Chestnut pair together for a while, trying to be patient and there just was no real activity noticeable, they would roost in their light nest but made no attempt to build anything decent.
I have had to try and accept that this light chestnut Hen is either too old or possibly a Cock. I found it hard to accept that it is a Cock because after my many hours of watching my finches I have never seen this little guy Sing so I would like to hold the opinion that it is a Hen. I had given up though and was considering moving her on in the future because she seems a bit rough and feather plucks some of the others while in the holding cage.

I had put the two light chestnuts down in the holding cage for a while and recently I have noticed that this Hen, my stubborn Hen was very active and was clinging to the top wire of the holding cage all the time. I had to assume that it wanted to get back into the breeding cage and to the nest there. I have been trying to breed with this Hen for the last two months since getting her and had no success. I considered that we are now well at the end of Spring and getting into Summer and the weather is definitely fining up and getting lighter and warmer I have noticed a lot more seeding grasses around lately and had started feeding the seed to my young Chestnuts. I have tried a slightly new approach to this Hen and given it another shot in the ring!

I have paired it up with my best Chocolate Cockbird (right), introduced some very good nesting material and every day, twice a day if possible, put a good bunch of some local seeding grasses (above) in the cage with the pair so I can try and encourage the natural atmosphere of a Spring breeding season. I guess that the key here is that the natural weather conditions have become better now and possibly this stubborn Hen of mine just might be moving into breeding condition.

I have been doing this for a week and to my delight this pair of Self Bengos is making an excellent nest. We are not there yet but it is looking more positive now.....

3 Fledged Chestnuts

Well my young Chestnuts have fledged and are looking very nice and healthy. There is definitely a difference in colour between the two darker and one lighter chicks.... I wonder how they will colour up?

One thing is for sure they look like all self and no white (pied) markings....good stuff!

Once they are feeding themselves I will move the Cock and the young down into the holding cage and pair the Hen with a different Cock, probably one of my Chocolates. See if we can do it all over again!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Misguided Belief to Dispel.3

The White Rumped Munia
(Lonchura striata
By Mark Shipway

As I indicated before, the hybrid myth has been perpetuated up until now probably because the White Rumped Munia remains a relatively unknown species in aviculture. I have observed two of the nine races of the White Rumped Munia in the wild and one in captivity. In the wild in Sumatra (race sumatrensis), their nests are abundant in the hill park next to the centre of Bukitinggi town, Central Sumatra. I was there in June 2000 when a large earthquake hit late at night after which, having been shaken off their perch, several Munias were flying around the town, disorientated, colliding with house windows and balconies. (Samui Island and near Chiang Mai, both in Thailand (race subsquamicollis
for avid birdwatchers, try looking in the road side vegetation back from the main tourist beach on Samui) and Vietnam (probably race subsquamicollis or swinhoei), you can see them at close quaters, packed in unsanitary conditions in the Hanoi bird markets together with Australian grassfinches imported from China.

Restall (1996) suggests that the western races (india, Nepal, Myanma) have more sharply contrasted colouring and those to the South (Malay Peninsula and Sumatra) are more spotted and marked whilst those from the East (Taiwan, China and Indo-China) are paler and more fawn and tawny. Restall (1996) reports that they are threatened in Singapore and Hong Kong.

I have also bred hundreds of Bengalese and see none of their characteristics, which cannot be said to come directly from the White Rumped Munia and its races directly or be explained by selective breeding.

  Photo Courtesy of Jim Warburton
(Author of the Just Bengalese Website)

I have found that sexing the White Rumped Munia, like the Bengalese, is a simple matter, in that apart from the males song, his distance call is generally higher pitched  and a variable in tone ("d-d-dri") whilst the female's call is a simple low monotone("d-d-droot"). Scientific research has now confirmed these differences (Okanoya K, Kimura T, Journal of Comparative Psychology 107:4) 386 - 394 DEC 1996). This is particularly helpful when viewing the birds at a distance. At closer quarters, the width of the lower mandible may, additionally, be used, but is best used as a guide only.

To be continued....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Euro Red/Brown

I have never been particularly attracted to the Fawn or Ginger Pied Bengalese, mainly because the Fawn in Australia generally is a mild tan coloured Finch and does not have the same colouring and marking definition of the darker Bengos. This being said, I have not really personally seen many Ginger Selfs and I am looking forward to that.

On that note I have come across a few photos recently of the Euro Ginger or Red/Brown that I think are very impressive. The Euro Red/Brown  has very well presented and defined underbelly markings that have been established overseas through hybridizing and careful selective breeding over many years.

Also the degree of RED in this Bengo I just love and it is my opinion that the Red/Brown is the most "bright" or "colourful" of all the Bengalese mutations, where by nature the humble Bengo is a brown Finch.

Monday, November 21, 2011

3 Young Chestnuts

So, I am happy to say that I have three healthy Chestnut young. Two are dark Chestnut and the youngest one shown on the right is a few shades lighter.

This photo was taken a week ago and I think that they will venture out of the nest in another week.
I bought some egg and biscuit and still the adult Bengos are not very interested in it. They readily eat and feed with the sprouted seed that I give them and since it is spring I have been feeding them green seeding grasses that I collect from around the local area.

The pair of light/dilute chestnuts in the other cabinet still do not show much sign of settling down to nest but for the time being I will continue to also feed the sprouted seed and seeding grasses to encourage the spring breeding instinct. I am still reserving the opinion that the finch that I think is the Hen is too old for breeding or is in fact a Cockbird.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Misguided Belief to Dispel.2

Genetic Principals of Domestication
By Mark Shipway

The idea that domesticated breeds such as the Bengalese have hybrid histories was shared by domestic animal breeders before Charles Darwin's time. The view probably started with Linnaeus, who named the Bengalese in 1766. We are all familiar with Darwin's work.................or are we? In the chapter entitled "Variation Under Domestication" from "On the Origin of Species" he says:

"One circumstance which has struck me much; namely, that all the breeders of various domestic animals ..... are firmly convinced that the several breeds to which each has attended, are decended from so many aboriginally  distinct species"

He goes on to at length to disprove this conviction and  concludes:

"When in any country several domestic breeds have once been established , their occasional with the aid of selection, has no doubt, largely aided in the formation of new sub breeds [such as the Euro Bengalese]; but this has been greatly exaggerated ...   I am convinced that the accumulative action of selection, whether applied methodically and more quickly, or unconsciously and more slowly, but more effectively, is by far the predominant power."

Put another way, by implication, before Darwin's time it was assumed that because not all the characteristics of a domesticated breed matched those of a wild species, it was assumed the former must be the result of crossing of several  species (this is the basis upon the Bengalese hybrid myth was developed).  Darwin questioned this assumption. According to theory, differences between the  White Rumped Munia and the Bengalese can be better accounted for as being the result of selective breeding of one species by the Chinese or Japanese over a long period rather than hybridisation between two or more species. As you no doubt are aware, Darwin's views largely reshaped those of the evolutionists and geneticists in his time and have formed the basis for for modern evolutionary science.

Of course the fact that a Bengalese may be piebald, fawn, chestnut, chocolate dilute, fawn dilute, chestnut dilute, crested, frill, grey, pearl, ino or white is attributable to a mutation and is a separate issue to the one about the ancestry of the finch. Throughout this article I am referring to the natural chocolate or wild form. The piebald effect is caused by one of two separate mutations, one of which now predominates the breed and has a complex genetic make-up which has been described as "penetrance".  (As a side note, the fact that selfs have traditionally been so uncommon in Australia is that, as far as I am aware, we never benefited from an import of wild White Rumped Munias which Europe received from Asia from the 1950's and 60's).

to be continued....

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Misguided Belief to Dispel.1

A Misguided Belief to Dispel
By Mark Shipway
March 2003 

Few Aviculturalists are unaware of the espoused fostering abilities of the Bengalese (Lonchura domestica - this scientific name mat now be inappropriate) and the contribution it has made to aviculture. Despite this contribution, it rarely raises any interest in avicultural literature in Australia. This article draws the readers attention to the irony that this common bird is probably the most misunderstood finch in Australian aviculture today. It's time to do justice for the bird which has done so much for us in the past and will, no doubt, into the future.
With the escalating interest in the Bengalese in recent years in the U.S., Japan and Europe, it has now been accepted that the Bengalese, like the domesticated breeds of the Jungle Fowl, Rock Dove and various duck species such as the Mullard, is merely the domesticated form of a wild species,  in its case the White Rumped Munia (Lonchura striata)(Right Picture). Consequently, you will often read its scientific name as L. striata or L. striata domestica The long held avicultural opinion that the Bengalese is a hybrid with unknown ancestry is a misguided belief probably sourced from the early avicultural pioneers' unfamiliarity with the genetic principals of domestication and sustained by our lack of knowledge of the species from which the finch is derived. It appears that ornithologists and European and American Munia specialists have now accepted these developments, but in many ways, this view has not been espoused by the general avicultural community.

In modern times, rightly or wrongly, the hybrid belief may have been exploited so as to justify hybridising the pure Bengalese with other species to produce new types, or in Australia's case, to improve or create Self Bengalese. In 1999 I attended Londons National Bengalese Fanciers Association annual show and noticed that a majority of the finches present were a new, recently imported strain from Continental Europe which was the result of hybridisation and backcrossing with the Black Munia (Lonchura stygia) from Southern Irian Jaya or as by one breeder, the White Headed Munia (Lonchura maja). This "type" is aptly named by the Americans as the "Euro" Society (Bengalese) and is obviously not available in Australia. They are effectively F3 and F4 generation birds with fixated imported characteristics. 

My view on the origin of the Bengalese developed independently of views overseas but was confirmed by my subsequent research into these views. I have set out the evidence below chich convinced me about the origin of the pure Bengalese.

to be continued..... 

Mark Shipway

A key figure in the development of the Self Bengalese in Australia was the late Mark Shipway. My Selfs that I have now are from my friend James in Queensland and James bred his birds with Mark in years past so it would be safe to say that my Selfs could be descendants of Mark's Bengalese. Mark was  from what I understand a driving force in starting the Bengalese Breeders Society and was undoubtedly very passionate about cultivating interest in the pure Self Bengalese. He was a prolific writer and I have come across an article that he wrote that was published in 2003. I have been careful to try and gain some permission to use his writings in my blog and since James was very close to Mark, I mentioned this to him and he was happy to endorse my use of Mark's text and he was confident that relevant family members would also approve. However if any relevant family members that read this have any objection to my quoting of Mark Shipway's articles then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Above: White Rumped Munia         

This begins a series of posts that will quote an article of Mark Shipway's called "A Misguided Belief to Dispel" you will be able to search for it in future in the topic section on the left under "Mark Shipway"

I hope you get as much out of reading this as I certainly do.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grey Self Bengalese 1

There is a colour that we do not and have not had any reference to having in Australia, and that is the Grey mutation of the Bengalese Finch. The Grey mutation has only the black pigments out of the two Bengalese colour factors Black and Red/Brown. So hence the appropriate name the Grey. I look forward to seeing such a bird in the flesh one day in Australia.

3 Baby Chestnuts

My Chestnuts have hatched 3 young on the weekend and are sitting nice and tight on the nest. I have been trying to feed them the Paswell soft food mix but for some reason, they wont touch it even when its mixed with greens and sprouted seed. This soft food is supposed to have the highest protein levels when compared to egg and biscuit but when watching my other birds also they have not seemed as keen on this as the egg and biscuit that I have used before. I have just started giving the chestnuts the sprouted seed on its own and they love it. The sprouted seed that I have was bought pre-made and frozen from Rob at Ace Colony Aviaries. I have seen him making it and he takes special care to include the anti bacterial agents to avoid any fouling.   I will probably try the egg and biscuit again in the future.

In my other breeding cage things haven't been going so well. The only other hen that I have which is the light or dilute chestnut has not been displaying as being very broody. I have tried her with a couple of different cock birds with not much success, to the point that I have wondered if it is a hen at all! I had been trying some nesting material in this time that I had found myself and I have now decided that it is a bit too stiff and stick-like and could  be a reason for the reluctance.

Tim had told me previously that it is good practice to give Bengalese seed mixed with a small amount of cod liver oil to bring the Finches into "Breeding Condition". I have since read that the Vitamin D that is in cod liver oil helps the finch absorb more calcium which is important for egg shell strength. I guess that this will trigger something in the hen that tells her that "she is ready"....well I've put this theory to the test and I have paired the two Dilute Chestnuts together and have been feeding this to them for a couple of days. Also today I popped over to Ace Colony Aviaries and picked up some coconut fiber nesting material.

We will see!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Bengo Colours

Here is a comprehensive list from overseas of the Bengo colours represented on a poster.

This list is from overseas and a large amount of the colours are not available in Australia or the status is unknown. The Bengos that are known to be in Australia are highlighted Red  

Self chocolate 1 (Pictured is the Euro Self)  
Self chestnut 2  
Self-fawn 3  
Chocolate dilute 4  (in the past but presently unknown)  
Chestnut dilute 5  
Fawn dilute 6   (in the past but presently unknown) 
Chestnut clearwing 7  
Fawn clearwing 8  
Self black-grey 9  
Self chestnut-grey 10  
Black-grey dilute 11  
Chestnut-grey dilute 12  
Chestnut clearwing 13  
Self fawn-grey 14  
Fawn grey dilute 15  
Fawn grey clearwing 16  
Cream ino 17  
Grey ino 18  
Self-white 19  
Albino 20  
Marked-whitehead 21  
Marked-with-eyering 22  
Marked-with-cap 23  
Fawn-marked-with-cap 24  
Chocolate-and-white 25  
Chestnut-and-white 26  
Chocolate crested 27  
Fawn crested 28  
White crested 29
Selfblack-grey frill 30

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chestnut Self Bengo.2

Dilute Chestnuts.
I have seen a few random examples of pied Chestnuts through my travels so the (Dark) Self Chestnut was not a huge surprise. However I was not aware of the Light Chestnut until recently when I have been in touch with the Bengalese Finch enthusiasts from Qld. You can see one of my Light Chestnut Bengos in the picture to the left.

The Bengalese Finch book descibes this colouring of my Bengo as a "Dilute Chestnut" (right picture).

I have been told that the Dilute Chestnuts or "Silvers" (as they were called) that were relatively common in Queensland around ten years ago resembled a bird like the Bengalese Mannikin pictured to the left.

From what I can gather, both examples are in fact "Dilute Chestnuts" however they have varied degrees of this Diluted factor.

I  suspect that this level of dilution (bottom left picture) could be achieved through selective breeding for dilution through numerous generations. Through my current contacts I do not know of any breeders that keep the Silver Bengo, so to develop this colour through selective breeding would surely be a formidable project to undertake in the future.