As the name implies, the Java finch is native to the Indonesian islands, including Java, Bali, and Bawean. They can also be found in Sri Lanka, Hawaii, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. In Java, this finch is a vulnerable species.
The Java Finch is found in large flocks in savannas and grasslands across the islands of Indonesia, Hawaii, Sri Lanka, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica. They are fond of agricultural areas, especially rice paddies, and they are often considered to be a pest species by farmers. They can be damaging to crops, which is why it is illegal to own them in many areas where they are non-native. An introduced population of Java Finches in a non-native environment would be detrimental to the local ecosystem. Although they have been introduced in many areas, they are still considered an endangered species.
These birds have been kept as pets in Asia since at least the 17th century, with the Ming Dynasty being credited with first keeping and popularizing the bird. In the 1960s, these birds were introduced into the pet trade in the United States, where they rapidly rose to popularity. The import of Java Finches was eventually banned, and it is still illegal to own them in California, Hawaii, Georgia, Florida, and a few other states due to their threat to agriculture and the native ecosystem. Most pet Java Finches kept today are captive-bred.
Although social, Java Finches prefer the company of other Java Finches to that of humans. Some people do successfully bond with their bird, but these birds can be quite timid when it comes to being handled by people. They are peaceful birds that can often get lonely without avian friends. They are happiest in small flocks, and it isn’t recommended to keep them singly as this can lead to stress and a shortened life expectancy for the bird.
Some male Java Finches have been known to show aggression toward other males, but they otherwise are content to peacefully coexist with other birds. Some people even find success keeping Java Finches with other types of songbirds, like Canaries and some other types of Finches.
Java Finches are highly prized for their gentle song. They make a high-pitched “chip-chip” song that can be quite soothing. When males are attempting to woo a female, they may create drum-like noises by clicking their beak. These beak noises are done to accompany the male’s song, almost as if he is creating his own percussion to the song.
At a home feeding station, these Java birds engage in raucous party as they come and go and often eating in groups and not without a little territorial squabble. The audio-visual slide show below is from about a one-hour period of their feeding Java Jamboree.