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Animals & Attractions

Java Sparrow

We are currently home to a small flock of Java sparrows.

Where it can be found At Edinburgh Zoo

Our Java sparrows can be found in our Brilliant Birds exhibit.

In the Wild

The Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora) is native to Java and Bali in Indonesia, although there are some populations in Australia, Mexico and North America.

Their bodies are made up of pearly-grey plumage, turning pinkish on the front and white towards the tail. They have a black head with white cheeks and large, bright pink bill. This striking plumage has meant they are one of the few globally threatened species that have expanded in range as they have been introduced all over the world as a result of the cage-bird trade.
<br/ > The song of the Java sparrow begins with single notes, like a bell, before developing into a continuous trilling and clucking, mixed with high-pitched and deeper notes.

The Java sparrow typically inhabits open woodland, often near farmed areas, and can also be found in mangroves, grasslands and villages. They are highly sociable birds and have been witnessed in flock of hundreds of individuals. They typically roost in groups within tall trees, shrubs, reeds and sugarcane crops.

Their diet is similar to other members of the finch family, they will eat small seeds, grasses, insects and flowering plants. However as a result of the rice-farming industry in Asia, they have adapted and this now makes up the main part of their diet. In fact part of the scientific species name 'oryzivora' means ‘rice-eater’.

In the wild these birds will build a nest out of dried grass normally under the roofs of buildings or in bushes or treetops. They will lay a clutch of three or four eggs normally between February to August, with most eggs laid in April or May.

Populations of the Java sparrow have declined rapidly due to the demand for the cage-bird trade. Even in areas where it was introduced as a result of escapes the populations are now decreasing due to trapping. As these birds are highly social and found in large groups this makes it easier for bird catchers. In addition to this, declines may be a result of heavy pesticide use in the 1960s, since they frequent agricultural land. They have also been seen a pest species and have been shot and nest destroyed by farmers. Recently they have started to face competition from the tree sparrow within its range and habitat loss from the invasion by the alang-alang grass.

The Java sparrow is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored. Captive breeding programmes are now taking place which should help to relieve pressure on wild populations, with conservation efforts trying to ensure that the entire cage-bird market demand is met by captive bred birds rather than wild caught.

Find out more


Not Endangered NE
Data Deficient DD
Least Concern LC
Near Threatened NT
Vulnerable VU
Endangered EN
Critically Endangered CR
Extinct in the wild EW
Extinct EX


For more info on classifications visit


Relative to a smartphone Relative to a smartphone


Population is decreasing, IUCN May 2012


  • Grasslands



Folivore Folivore
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