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.....