Java Sparrow Lonchura oryzivora
BirdLife is reviewing the status of this species for the 2018 Red List.
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Justification of Red List Category
The popularity of this finch as a cage-bird has resulted in intense trapping activity, which is inferred to be causing rapid declines in the population. Unless stringent regulations are enforced, these declines are likely to continue, and as such it is listed as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.2,500-9,999 individuals (Population estimate derived from analysis of recent records and surveys detailed in BirdLife International 2001). This estimate equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals. The subpopulation structure is uncertain, but there is thought to be more than one subpopulation within the native range and the largest subpopulation is assumed to number more than 1,000 mature individuals until better information is available.

Trend justification
A rapid and on-going population decline is inferred on the basis of trapping pressure for the international cage-bird trade.

Distribution and population

This species is a native endemic of the islands of Java, Bali, and probably Madura, Indonesia, although it has been widely introduced, with feral populations now established in many parts of the world. It was formerly widespread and abundant in its native range, but numbers have crashed disastrously. It can now be difficult to find, particularly on Java (N. Brickle in litt. 2012); a recent survey looked at 64 former locations and located only 109 individuals at 17 sites (Muchtar and Nurwatha 2001). The majority of documented recent records derive from east Java and Bali. Feral populations (in Indonesia at least) have also apparently declined precipitously. Information from elsewhere is insufficient to estimate its status as a feral species, and all conservation efforts should focus on its original native range.


It is usually a lowland species, chiefly found below 500 m but occurring locally up to 1,500 m. It has been recorded in many habitats, including towns and villages (where it was formerly one of the most common species), cultivated land (particularly rice-growing areas), grassland, open woodland, tree savanna, beach forest and even mangroves. It is gregarious, especially outside the breeding season. Post-breeding flocks appear to make substantial short-distance movements in response to local food supplies.


Trapping for the domestic and international cage-bird trade has probably been occurring for centuries, peaking in the 1960s and 1970s, and is the main cause of the decline. Its flocking tendency, particularly at roost sites, renders it especially susceptible to mass trapping. Ironically, even feral populations, originally introduced through trade, have subsequently been decimated for the same reason. Historically, it was regarded as a rice crop-pest, and consequently persecuted. Hunting for local consumption, possibly increased use of pesticides, and competition with the ecologically similar Tree Sparrow Passer montanus, are additional threats.

Conservation actions

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. An embargo was placed on the capture quota for Java and Bali in 1995.  The species is bred widely in captivity but is heavily trapped, almost to extinction within the natural range.  It occurs in only a very few protected areas, with recent records from only four: Cikepuh Wildlife Reserve, Baluran and Meru Betiri National Parks on Java, and Bali Barat National Park on Bali.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Investigate the relative importance of current threats (excessive trade, persecution, pesticides, competition). Promote strict enforcement of trade restrictions in wild birds, and devise means of meeting market demands from captive breeding. Develop and initiate programmes to protect remaining populations.


14-15 cm. Contrastingly patterned, open-country finch. Pearl-grey, becoming pinkish on belly and whitish towards vent, with a black head and conspicuous white cheeks. Black rump and tail. Massive pink bill. Voice Song begins with bell-like single notes, accelerating into a continuous trilling and clucking interspersed with high-pitched and deeper notes, sometimes ending with a drawn-out whistle. Also short, hard tup, chirrups and trills.


Text account compilers
Symes, A., Khwaja, N., Taylor, J., Gilroy, J., Benstead, P., Martin, R

Brickle, N., van Balen, B., Chng, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2018) Species factsheet: Lonchura oryzivora. Downloaded from on 21/09/2018. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2018) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/09/2018.