In Australia, the Pied or Variegated Bengo is a finch that is quite a common inhabitant of any Pet Shop, Bird Dealer or Finch breeder, however to come across a Self Bengo usually would be a rare event indeed and you would be safe to find that many of these proprietors have rarely or have never seen them. This is a shame since the natural colours and markings of the Bengo are quite striking and reflect the origins of this finch. It is clear that in Australia we have only had pied Bengalese from when they were first imported and it has been since then that Australia closed its borders to any new finch imports so the Euro Self has not been available to Australians. It has been only by a dedicated few that the pied Bengo has been selectively bred until all traces of the white pied markings have been removed to reveal the natural pure form of this lovely finch.
The common belief amongst Finchos is that the Bengalese Mannikin has no true natural ancestry and simply stems from fertile hybrids of the Lonchura family that were bred domestically hundreds of years ago.
In more recent years it has become widely accepted that the Bengalese Mannikin is a domesticated form of the White Rumped Munia (Lonchura striata) shown to the left and the Bengo has been since named Lonchura striata domestica. The various colour mutations of the Bengo can be easily explained by the selective breeding of this domesticated Finch. We see this truth in our own aviaries, the Gouldian and its multitude of colour mutations is a prime example. To know more, please read this excellent article about the origins of the Self Bengalese by Mark Shipway.

For many years there has been a quest to breed the Self via hybridization with various Munias, Nuns and Mannikins, especially overseas and the Euro Self (shown right) is a tribute to that, however these practices were performed with the licence that the Bengalese was already a hybrid and it would seem now that this was not true after all.
From these previous statements it can be speculated that in Australia the blood line of the Bengalese is relatively more pure to the finches origins than these Bengalese such as the Euro. You could say that our Aussie Bengo is more White Rumped Munia than Bengalese Mannikin when compared to those like the Euro Self.
This is by no means any declaration of war and I think that the Euro Self is a spectacular Finch and because of the vast population of fanciers overseas we continue to see amazing mutations being produced such as the Pearl but for our little crew here Australia we have few options but to embrace the Aussie Bengo that we have and through selective breeding we can improve the Type, Size, Colour and Markings of this Finch as time goes on.

It is my view that keeping the Self Bengo and encouraging others to do so is helping to establish a strain of Finch that is traditionally rare in Australia and is the pure form of an often forgotten Finch in Aviculture.

Above: An Australian Self

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