DTI001 20_12_17 

Bengalese Finches
British Birds
Game Birds
Love Birds
Raptors and Owls

Where’s the Bengalese from?

Not a trick question – the origins of this favourite hardbill are controversial. Tony Edwards brings us up to date

White-headed nun: has been crossed with Bengalese by Continental breeders

THE name “Bengalese finch” is widely known throughout the world of aviculture. It is not known where this particular name came from, but one thing is pretty certain – the Bengal region of India plays no part in the bird’s origin! In the USA it is called the society finch, a name I like since it beautifully describes the nature of this friendly little bird.
By contrast, in many European languages “Japanese” appears in the name, which describes the origin of the first birds imported into Europe in the mid-1800s.
The ancestors of the Bengalese are definitely Lonchura species, referred to usually as munias or mannikins, terms which are interchangeable. (Note: you do need to be careful with the spelling – “manakins” (Pipridae) are a totally different family found in the American tropics.)
Silverbills from Africa and Asia are also in Lonchura. It is commonly accepted that “munia” is used for Asian species, and “mannikin” for African species and those from other areas. “Nun” is also sometimes used, and I have also seen “reed sparrow” used as a translation for various species!

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