From: Ronald J Simpson
Subject: Java Sparrow Info #2
JAVA SPARROW (Padda oryzivora) compiled by S. van Balen
Java Sparrow Padda oryzivora (L.)
Loxia oryzivora Linnaeus, 1758
Fringilla oryzivora (L.) in Horsfield 1821
Munia orycivora (sic!; in Bartels 1906)
gelatik belong (Gedangan, Central Java)
2. DISTRIBUTION SUMMARY
Established in many parts of the world (K. Islam 1997), but only really
wild in Java and Bali (Chasen 1935). Madura should be included in its
native range but was not because no collections had been made until the
1970s. Sometimes Sumatra (Robinson in Kuroda 1933), Bawean (Clements et al.
1993) are included in its native range. Van Marle and Voous (1988) state
that the species was undoubtedly introduced to Sumatra.
(1846) mentioned the species as having been introduced to Bawean by the
first representative of the Dutch colonial administration on the island,
Mr. H. Frederiks in 1802. Vorderman (1892) did not list the species after
his visit, but wrote that it was imported as a cage-bird from Surabaya from
time to time. Hoogerwerf (1966-1967) therefore believes that the species
has been repeatedly introduced with varying success, and was perhaps
settled by the time he was on the island in 1954.
Recorded from all parts in Java, though Kuroda (1930, 1933) reported that
it was less numerous in West than Central and East Java where it was often
seen in flocks of considerable size.
Changes in range:
Perhaps the only Red Data Book bird that has enormously expanded its range,
but nearly disappeared from its natural range of Java and Bali.
Nature of distribution:
Open woodlands in the lowlands, especially in rice-growing areas, though
not found everywhere there.
Extent of habitat occurrence:
Difficult to calculate.
Area of habitat occupancy:
3. POPULATION SUMMARY
3.1 Population estimate.
Still widespread and numbers may be considerable, but numbers crashed
enormously as can seen from the ration of former and recent records.
3.2 Population trends.
Formerly very common on Bali where flocks of several hundreds were once
reported (Stresemann 1913) or everywhere common (Plessen 1926), but
apparently greatly declined, and now uncommon in the north-west, locally
common in south-east of the island (Ash 1982). Bartels (unpubl.) saw it
disappearing from a number of rice-fields in West Java in the years before
1929. Van Heurn (read from label in 1919 in ZMA) reported it as scarce in
Bogor, and extremely abundant in Banten.
Kuroda (1930) reports the species as less common in West Java (Jakarta and
Sukabumi), but very common in Central (Semarang) and East Java (near
Gresik, Surabaya, etc.). Used to be common in Jakarta's outskirts from
where it disappeared; there are no recent reports of extremely large roosts
and the overall impression when local people throughout Java, Madura and
Bali are asked about Java Sparrow, is that the species used to be common or
very common, but hardly any are seen nowadays. Similar impressions are
heard from visiting birdwatchers who only observe them in Baluran and/or
Bali Barat National Park's, if not failing to see the birds at all
(Richards and Richards 1988; B. King pers.comm., Tobias and Phelps 1994,
On Java exclusively inhabiting the cultivated areas (Bernstein 1860), up to
260 ft (Bartels unpubl.). Not noticed in the mountains (Whitehead 1893). On
Bali open woodland and tree savanna, mangroves, beach forest, secondary
growth in cultivation, occasionally to mid altitudes 830 m (Ash 1982; B.
van Helvoort 1987); occasional up to 1,500 m in West Java (Stresemann
The Java Sparrow was not common in Jakarta city, but abundant in the
outskirts, especially in and around rice fields, but also grassy areas near
fish ponds and even, but in very small numbers in the mangroves (Hoogerwerf
and R.H. Siccama 1938), and also remote grassy areas without rice (Bartels
Large communal roosts of hundreds of birds in 'alang-alang' woodlands
(Vorderman 1882-1885), in large Ficus benjamina fig trees (Koningsberger
1901-1909; Hivernon 1920), Tamarindus indica tamarind trees in Surabaya
(Bartels unpubl.) and other large densely leaved trees (Hoogerwerf and R.H.
Siccama 1938) in suburban Jakarta have been reported. Largest
concentrations of roosts are observed in Jakarta in between breeding
seasons, i.e., July-August and March-April (Hoogerwerf and R.H. Siccama
1938). Bartels (unpubl.) pointed to a much greater shyness of birds
inhabiting areas remote from human settlements than of those found in
villages and cities.
4.2 Food and feeding.
Rice appears to form its major source of food and huge flocks used to
become an agricultural pest (Hivernon 1920) when the species was more
common in Java. Grass seeds, including those of bamboo are take in areas
where there are riceless seasons (Bartels unpubl.), and food reported by
Sody (in Becking 1989) includes: insects, and seeds of Andropogon sorghum,
Bambusa blumeana, Lantana camara and Passiflora spp.
In the rainy season in Java, when the paddies are flooded, they forage in
bushes in pairs and small groups in search of various seeds, fruits and
insects. When the rice is ripening they frequent the paddies in large
numbers, afflicting much damage. Also after the harvest they find enough
food on wastelands, during which time they are at a maximum weight
(Bernstein 1861). Between March and August the large and straggling swarms
are mainly juvenile birds (Hoogerwerf and R.H. Siccama 1938). Forms small
troops in August  in Bogor (van Heurn, as read from label in ZMA).
Usually the untidy hay nest is constructed on balks under roofs of
buildings in towns and villages (Kuroda 1933; Stresemann 1913). Out in the
open land the loosely built constructions are found in bushes, in tree-tops
and especially palms, where they built the nests in the leaf folds or e.g.,
amongst epiphytes/parasites on the stems of Arenga palms (Bernstein 1861).
Where Tree Sparrows are scarce or absent, the nest are built on and under
roofs (Koningsberger 1901-1909). Nesting in presumed woodpecker (Ash 1982)
and barbet holes (Bartels unpubl.), and presumably in limestone caves,
where they have been observed (Kuroda 1933; S. van Balen pers.obs.);
Coomans de Ruiter (1948) found them in Sulawesi mostly breeding in open
nests, but also holes in Samanea saman trees ("Regenboom").
Two egg clutches found in April in Bali (Stresemann 1913), fledglings in
June (Kuroda 1933; Ash 1982). Most clutches on Java were between 3 and 4,
sometimes 5 or 6, and once even 15 eggs, but these were supposed to have
come from two birds (Hoogerwerf and H.R. Siccama 1937-1939).Sody (1930),
Bouma (1936), Hoogerwerf (1949) and Hellebrekers and Hoogerwerf (1967)
combined give the following data:
ProvinceJFMAMJJASWest Java..21616952.Central Java...2.....East
Bartels (unpubl.) reports that, despite considerable damage done to the
rice fields, the birds are not shot, but chasen off the fields, though they
are locally hunted for consumption.Vorderman (1885) already reported
hundreds for birds throughout the year being sold by street venters. Apart
>from ending up in cages and aviaries, hundreds are hunted at their roosts
(Hivernon 1920), and also traded, for culinary purposes, especially by the
Chinese citizens (Hoogerwerf and H.R. Siccama 1938). Whilst being captured
and offered for sale in considerable numbers at local bird markets (e.g.,
van Helvoort 1981, van Balen 1984; Basuni and Setiyani 1989) and for the
international trade (Nash 1993), it appears that the species has become
extremely scarce in the wild on Java.
Many sources mention the ecological similarity between this species and the
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus, and Koningsberger (1901-1909) report
the predominance of the Java Sparrow somewhere at Surabaya, entirely
adopting the Tree Sparrow's way of life, where the latter is scarce or
absent. The Tree Sparrow is a relatively recent arrival, and where the
appearance of Tree Sparrow concurs with the disappearance of Java Sparrows
(e.g., Pelabuhan Ratu) mutual exclusion is suggested of these ecologically
very similar species.
Intensive use of pesticides in Java's rice fields may have also impacted
negatively on the population.
5.2 Action taken.
Stop on capture quota for Java and Bali for 1995; the species occurs in
only very few reserves:
Mt. Karang holds Java Hawk-eagle and Java Sparrow used to occur here. No
proposals for a reserve exist for this protection forest.
Cikepuh holds Green Peafowl, Java Sparrow. This is a ca. 8,000 ha wildlife
Baluran, Bali Barat, Meru Betiri holds Lesser Adjutant, Green Peafowl, Java
Sparrow. This national park of 25,000 ha is mainly wooded savannah with a
central 1,250 m mountain.
5.3 Action proposed.
Stop capturing in the wild; extension programmes to protect the birds
around houses, stimulate captive breeding amongst private aviculturists,
etc. Field studies into the causes of the species' decline (excessive
capturing, pesticides, competition with Tree Sparrow).
Suwung holds Java Sparrows and is a coastal area with mudflats, mangroves
and adjacent rice fields. There are plans to preserve as it forms an
important foraging and roosting for waders, waterbirds (V. Mason in litt.)
and perhaps Java Sparrows.