T he Society Finch, or Bengalese Finch as it is called in some countries, is neither rare nor difficult to breed. It can't carry a tune and, while it may be charming and comical, it is not an avicultural beauty. Its main claim to fame is its controversial ability to incubate and rear the young of other finch species.
Whether the desired result is a clutch of Society Finches or the fostered young of another species, the Society Finch is usually up to the challenge.
Society Finches seem to enjoy their assigned duties of incubation and rearing, but they cannot be expected to perform them without good lighting (16 hours daily), a moderate temperature (around 75°F.), and an excellent diet.
In addition to their seed, they need a soft food supplement at least once a day. This not only adds vitamins, minerals, and protein to their diet, it gives the parent birds a food that is easily regurgitated to feed the nestlings. The soft food content can vary depending upon the nutritional requirements of the nestlings.
Possible soft food contents are many but may include: commercial dried egg food, petamine, cooked rice or small pasta, chopped greens, grated carrot, cooked lentils, and a vitamin/mineral supplement.
After two or three clutches in a breeding cage, Society breeders can be transferred to a flight cage for a well deserved rest.
Breeding Society Finches may be
relatively easy but an advancement to a standard of perfection is important with any bird that can produce a large number of young in such a short period of time. Bird exhibitions in the U.S. and around the world give bird breeders a comparative method of quality control.
Fostering the young of other species of Estrildids under Societies has been a subject of controversy for years. This controversy need not continue. modem fostering methods were perfected in several European countries in the 1970s, to the point that almost all of the Australian finches coming from Europe to the U.S. during that time were the result of fostering under Societies.
American breeders used those imported fostered finches (whether they knew it or not) to produce the domestically bred Australian finches available today.
Natural vagaries and variations in parenting behavior and unmet requirements for individual species can cause parenting failures more often than does fostering.
The Society Finch is an integral part of aviculture. U.S. breeders can and will continue to advance finch aviculture with the help of this bird and its never-ending contributions to both novice and experienced aviculturists.
Finch aviculture would be decades behind its present state but for the willing hard work performed by this plain and simple little bird-the Society Finch.