Java Sparrow – observation on numbers and calls

posted in: Miscellaneous, Vocalisation | 0

“The fate of feral populations of Java Sparrows (Lonchura oryzivora) in Peninsular Malaysia have fluctuated over time; see Wells 2007 for details (below). It has been assumed that wild populations have been supplemented by released captives at Buddhist temples. In my region I have seen populations alter over time as feeding habitats have been overtaken by housing or other development. There has been an established, breeding, colony at one limestone area, ‘protected’ by the presence of the religious activities there and another at an overgrown Chinese graveyard. If anyone had asked me a few weeks ago I would have estimated total numbers of Java Sparrows in my city Ipoh at 20-30.

“However, in the past 2 weeks I have seen ‘sizable’ numbers at 4 different locations in the city. They are far enough away from each other to be sure that there is no overlap. Three are located near limestone hills and one in a Chinese graveyard where I have seen them nesting in holes and crevices in trees. Most had juveniles or immature birds making up ~ one third of the flock; suggesting recent breeding. The numbers at these sites were: 45-50, 20-30 (some hidden in bamboo), 15 and 12. These are much larger numbers than I am used to but there is no doubt, as there were two other observers with me. These are conservative numbers from me and real numbers are higher. A current conservative estimate of the numbers in my city are a minimum of 92-107 birds. Image shows and adult feeding on grain from wild grass/rushes.

Update on numbers

“I recently reported on the numbers of feral populations of Java Sparrows in my locality. I had increased counts from 30 to closer to 90 (numbers have fluctuated over time; see Wells 2007 for details). While out cycling with my wife we had come across a large group. This was ~1.5km from the nearest limestone hills, their common breeding location. I initially had conservative estimates (with my wife) of 45-50. I went back to get images to determine better numbers. They gather here because someone is feeding them grain. How they found this location, so far from their usual sites is a surprise. Using images I counted at least 102 at this site alone. Considering the three other site counts of: 20-30, 15 and 12, the total in the city now exceed 150. Above is a composite of 2 images to show the main group (other on the ground and nearby trees). Below is a small selection of those feeding on the ground.”

Calls of the Java Sparrows
“The calls of the Java Sparrows are not easy to record. I recently invested in a shotgun mic to help improve call recording. They make a soft chattering calls interspersed with some louder notes. A shot edited audio recording with waveform and sonogram are shown below.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
24th & 29th November 2018

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Secondary growth at city fringe

Wells, D.R., 2007. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. 800 pp.


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